The termination of Great Britain’s EU membership (Brexit) is bad news for the European Union and particularly for Central Europe, and for this reason the expectation of the region’s EU countries with respect to the European Commission and the EU’s institutions responsible is that they do everything possible to achieve an agreement at the Brexit negotiations”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said.

The Minister took part in an informal meeting of foreign ministers from the British Government, the countries of the Visegrád Group (V4), Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, at the invitation of his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt at the British Foreign Office’s residence in Chevening, Southeast England.

At the site of the meeting, Mr. Szijjártó told Hungarian news agency MTI: “The region expects the EU to achieve a Brexit agreement that can be acknowledged as fair by both parties”. “The lack of such an agreement would grossly violate the interests of Central Europe in view of the fact that the region realises an extremely high level of trade turnover with Great Britain and there is a major level of British investment in the region’s economies, in addition to which millions of people from the countries of Central Europe live and work in Great Britain and their rights must also be guaranteed”, he added.

Over the past four and a half years the European Commission has “performed shockingly” and its activities have caused major damage to the European Union, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. According to Mr. Szijjártó, it is enough to recall how fragile previously stable transatlantic relations have become, or the damage caused by the lack of a proper response to the migration crisis, or simply the fact that next year, for the first time in its history, the number of EU member states will be decreasing, not increasing.

“In this situation it is in the clear interests for the Central Europeans for the Brexit negotiations to conclude with the deepest and most comprehensive and wide-ranging free trade agreement possible”, he declared. “If this does not come about then EU trade with Great Britain will continue according to the regulations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which would cause extreme difficulties”, the Minister stressed. “Now that a global trade war is beginning to develop, Europe needs free trade agreements, strategic partnerships and friends, and not Great Britain leaving the European Union without a suitable agreement”, he added.

In reply to a question from MTI with relation to whether the Visegrád Group was planning joint initiatives to maintain and expand relations with Great Britain in the event that there will be no Brexit agreement, Mr. Szijjártó declared: “The EU must remain united during the course of the Brexit negotiations, meaning that until there remains hope that an agreement will be reached we must move forward in the most unified manner possible, but this also represents an expectation and responsibility with relation to Brussels concerning the brokering of a suitable agreement”.

“We hope that we will not have to produce scenarios for a post-Brexit period with no agreement. If this nevertheless occurs, then we will obviously have to talk, but for the moment the consideration of such scenarios would have an adverse effect from the perspective of the negotiations”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed.