Balázs Molnár, Deputy State Secretary for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office had talks with Zrinka Ujevic, Assistant Minister for European Affairs and Bilateral Relations on 7 March 2018 in Zagreb. At the meeting the parties reviewed the challenges caused by migration, their proposals regarding the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the most important social and employment policy issues on the agenda of the European Union, Brexit and the status of Western Balkans enlargement.

The parties agreed that the pressure of migration weighing upon the European Union is one of the greatest challenges for the EU. In order to resolve this situation, it is essential to protect the external borders and to manage the root causes of the migration flow. Mr Molnár confirmed that the introduction of the mandatory quotas is unacceptable for Hungary. Our views on the importance of the protection of the external borders are also identical. Zrinka Ujevic pointed out that Croatia is making every effort to join the Schengen Area within the shortest possible time.

In the context of the Posted Workers Directive and its impact on the transport sector, Zrinka Ujevic said that Croatia fully agrees with the position represented by the V4 countries. Reaching a fair agreement for the Croatian transport sector is of the utmost importance. The Croatian party shared Hungary’s concerns regarding the measures which the Austrian government wishes to implement in connection with the indexing of family allowances. Mr Molnár also outlined the Hungarian government’s position related to the European pillar of social rights.

At the meeting the parties confirmed that during the talks on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) it is important for both countries that traditional policies, such as cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy, remain just as important as they are at present as not only the less advanced Member States, but all European countries benefit from these policies. They further agreed that a European Union which is facing ever more challenges needs a higher budget in order to address them. Therefore the size of the next MFF will have to be raised by the EU to above 1% of GNI. Croatia is following these negotiations closely because their conclusion may fall on its EU Presidency due in 2020.

The parties believe it is important that the EU offer the countries of the Western Balkans credible accession prospects. As part of this, the EU should allocate funds within the next Multiannual Financial Framework for the potential candidates, and should raise the allocation of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). The Croatian government looks favourably on the European Commission’s Western Balkans strategy released at the beginning of February, and looks forward to the EU – Western-Balkans summit planned by the Bulgarian Presidency to be held in May. This may be an excellent opportunity for maintaining the dynamism of the accession process. Both parties share the view that the neighbouring countries should help the region in the integration process both through project-based cooperation schemes and expert assistance.

(Prime Minister's Office)