According to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, the European Union will only be able to gain strength if it accelerates its enlargement programme, member states take steps to improve their competitiveness, free trade agreements are realised more rapidly and a Brexit agreement is successfully brokered that is mutually advantageous to everyone.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade spoke about this at a conference organised by the Századvég Foundation in Budapest on Friday, adding: “A Migration policy that truly protects Europe is also required for the EU to become stronger”.

According to Mr. Szijjártó, a series of mistakes has led to the EU having lost much of its competitiveness. These mistakes include a lack of fundamental reforms, he added.


The Foreign Minister said that the changes that have occurred in recent years within the global economy and global trade have fundamentally reorganised the distribution of economic power, and the EU has been one of the losers of this proves as a result of its diminishing competitiveness.

Mr. Szijjártó spoke about the fact that the EU cannot improve its competitiveness without an enlargement programme, and failure to integrate the Western Balkan region could also have major security policy implications.

Speaking at the “Where is Europe Heading?” conference, the Foreign Minister said Hungary was against EU tax harmonisation because it would strip member states of a major competitiveness factor.


Mr. Szijjártó said he believes that if the EU is not successful in concluding a mutually advantageous agreement with Great Britain on their exit of the Union, then the EU will have to face even more serious problems and competitiveness challenges, adding that the fact that the British are exiting the EU represents a major political and economic loss. “Brexit is the result of previous mistakes, not their cause”, he declared.

The Foreign Minister also drew attention to the fact that there also exists a “nightmare scenario”, according to which if the EU is unable of concluding a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with the British, the once it leaves the EU in March 2019 Great Britain will find it much easier to conclude its own free trade agreements with major countries of the global economy, which would further reduce the EU’S global competitiveness.

Among the mistakes made, Mr. Szijjártó listed the EU’s relationship with Russia, arguing in favour of rational discussions that are free of emotions. One of the most important prerequisites for regaining European competitiveness is civilised and efficient cooperation between the eastern and western half of the continent, he said.


With relation to this, he also mentioned that Hungary is often criticised for its Russia policy, while trade flow between the EU and Russia increased by 32 percent during the first four months of the year, and trade flow between the united States and Russia also increased by a similar ratio.

According to Mr. Szijjártó, the EU’s mistaken migration policy, thanks to which the continent is facing its highest threat of terrorism of all time, has also played a role in reducing Europe’s competitiveness.

The Foreign minister said he thought the best way of correcting these mistakes would be for Europe to return to a culture of “sensible and rational debate”, instead of emotional disputes and stigmatising and talking down to each other.

According to Mr. Szijjártó, debate on the future of Europe is justified and natural in a period of historically significant challenges, and one cannot expect the 28 member states of the European Union to share the exact same opinion. “Democratic and objective debate is required, in which one can count on a strong V4 presence”, he added, indicating however that there is a consensus between member states with regard to the fact that Europe must become strong once again.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)