On 8 March 2018 Szabolcs Takács, Minister of State for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office had talks with Stephan Holthoff-Pförtner, Minister for Federal, European and International Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The parties agreed that if the European Union is unable to protect its external borders, the freedoms offered by the internal market and the free movement of citizens will be in danger. Mr Takács argued in the context of migration that European democracy has cultural traditions of thousands of years, and without respecting these the EU itself is unable to operate effectively.

The Minister of State added modernisation does not mean that we should surrender our past and identity. Mr Takács said there will be no progress in the resolution of the migration crisis as long as Europe remains unable to protect its own external borders. He added that during the negotiations regarding the EU’s budget for the period beyond 2020 more funds will have to be allocated to border protection. The Minister of State drew Mr Holthoff-Pförtner’s attention to the fact that there will likewise be no progress in the resolution of conflicts in a manner that befits the European people as long as larger Member States fail to respect the opinions of their smaller counterparts. Hungary continues to remain open to debates at the appropriate forums, but we shall not accept a solution that poses a threat to our national identity.

Stefan Holthoff-Pförtner said Germany, and in particular North Rhine-Westphalia, has a vested interest in maintaining the future role of cohesion funds with regard to the fact that the projects resulting from those funds have yielded considerable profits for Germany. The Minister added that, in his view, also in the future all regions should have access to cohesion funds and the funds of the common agricultural policy as the more advanced economic regions function as engines that pull the less developed ones behind them. Mr Takács observed that we agree with the Minister in that also in the future cohesion policy will have to play a major role in promoting real economic convergence. He added that the conventional policies which can be regarded as the European Union’s success policies significantly contribute to the convergence of less advanced regions which makes the whole of the EU more competitive.

(Prime Minister's Office)