The EU must respect national specificities and national sovereignty, the national identities of Member States “because Europe in itself is a complex continent, and there cannot be a single way of thinking in it,” Justice Minister László Trócsányi stressed at a conference on Thursday in Budapest.

The Minister said that based on the theory of concentric circles, while former colonist countries are committed to their former colonies, Hungary primarily has responsibility towards the Balkans region because “we know it, we are tied to it historically,” and what is happening there also has an impact on Hungary. In his words, it is therefore impossible to implement the quota decision as it fails to take into consideration the cultural and historical traditions of the individual countries.

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In his address, Mr Trócsányi highlighted that the European Union must remain within the powers laid down in the Treaties, the European Commission cannot extend beyond them. He said the balance between institutions must be restored: the European Council identifies political directions and priorities, and the European Commission can only work within those boundaries.

At the forum on the future of the European Union, which was organised by the National University of Public Service, Mr Trócsányi pointed out that in Europe trust is the most important thing. If there is no trust, then we cannot speak of cooperation. Trust must be restored in the European Union, trust vested both in the EU and in the Member States, because it has been shaken.

He stressed that there must be a constructive dialogue in the EU where small, large and medium-sized members are equal, and there is mutual respect.

At the same time, the Minister also said it is impossible to create homogenised regulations extending to every last detail in Europe; distinctions must be made between the individual countries due to their historical and cultural specificities.

The politician further highlighted that the GDP of the European Union’s 28 Member States has fallen from almost 30 per cent of global GDP to 21.8 per cent; research and development expenditures are still well below the target 3 per cent to GDP in the EU average; there is not a single European company among the world’s ten largest businesses and there are only four European companies among the world’s 25 largest businesses. He took the view that competitiveness will be the main issue of European integration which is served best not by over-regulation, but by flexibility.

In answer to a question concerning Brexit, the Minister observed that it is yet to be discussed whether European integration is in any way responsible for Brexit. In his view, it is like a divorce, and he does not believe that only one party or the other is responsible for it.

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He said in response to a question about the European Public Prosecutor’s Office that every EU Member State, including Hungary believes that action must be taken against corruption, but there are already two other organisations – Eurojust and OLAF – whose duty is just that. The Minister said it is an “illness” of European integration that it seeks to create ever further new organisational units. He indicated that the Fundamental Law lays down clearly: prosecution functions are performed by the Hungarian prosecution service.

In her welcome address, Boglárka Koller, Dean of the organiser Faculty of International and European Studies highlighted that in the history of European integration there were several crisis periods when the European unity process “had to replan itself”; this is happening today as well. She took the view that the EU is only able to manage challenges if the old and new Member States are able to represent their interests as equal partners.

András Koltay, Rector of the University said in his welcome speech that on 9 May, the symbolic birthday of the European Union we must remember all at once the origins of the European Union, its value foundations, the historical events and social factors laying the foundations for the process of unification, and the importance of preserving individual and national specificities and the sovereignty of nation states as well as the importance of the autonomy of independent communities.

Integration and independence must exist side by side, equally in a cultural, political and economic sense, he said.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)