What is important for Hungary is to find a suitable person for the position of leader of the European Commission, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said at the Tuesday meeting of Parliament’s European Union Affairs Committee.

At his annual hearing, the Minister highlighted that recently there have been major problems regarding suitability; the management of the migration situation and Brexit both testify to this. The past five years of the European Commission can be summed up as a period of failure, and therefore we need change: rather than a political commission, we need a body which truly proceeds as the guardian of the Treaties, he said.

Mr Gulyás stressed that what is the most important is that such leaders are given positions at the heads of EU institutions who are able to maintain a fair and balanced relationship with every country, and did not previously attack any Member State. It is clear that there is no majority behind the lead candidates, he stated.

The Minister said that though by now the EU could have a budget for the next period of seven years, at present there is no draft which the EU could adopt with any significant degree of probability in the near future. The reason for this is that the earlier proposal was unacceptable for most of the Member States, and they believe that it is better to wait for the establishment of the next European Commission and to cooperate with them, he said.

He added that for Hungary it is secondary when the next budget is adopted, but naturally it would be better if it was adopted sooner, rather than later.

He said it would not have any tragic consequences for Hungary if the budget was only approved in the second half of 2020; at the same time, there are a few crucial issues on which they are not prepared to compromise. These issues include the common agricultural policy, the Cohesion Fund and migration. Additionally, another important criterion is the rejection of any connection between the rule of law and budgetary funds.

He observed that, regarding Brexit, Hungary’s position is clear: everyone must accept the decision of the British people, and the goal is to conduct a series of fair negotiations resulting in a fair agreement.

Mr Gulyás said concerning climate protection that Hungary is among the countries which have recently reduced their carbon dioxide emissions to the greatest extent, and will meet the target it has undertaken to achieve by 2030.

In response to comments made by Bernadett Szél (independent) and Tibor Bana (Jobbik) on the issue of climate protection, he highlighted that the EU has a target for 2030, no one disputes that, and therefore there is no reason for any hurry as to what should happen by 2050. There are common objectives and fundamental principles which no one disputes, and any further goals should be identified on the basis of common sense, he said, adding that without Paks it would, at any rate, be impossible to even achieve the Paris climate targets.

Several Members of Parliament raised the issue of the freedom of academia. The Minister said the transformation of the Academy of Sciences has nothing to do with the freedom of science; it is about the Academy’s network of research institutes. The goal is to make research and development more efficient from more funding, he said.

Lajos Oláh (DK) asked the Minister as to whether Fidesz will remain within the European People’s Party. Mr Gulyás confirmed that, according to their position, it is not Fidesz that is in trouble; it is the People’s Party which will have to decide whether they need Fidesz’s help or not.

Katalin Csöbör (Fidesz) enquired about the date for the approval of the EU budget. According to the Minister, the period of the Croatian or the German EU presidency next year appears to be realistic. Content is, however, more important than timing, he pointed out.

Gábor Riz (Fidesz) asked the Minister to what extent the Treaty of Lisbon could continue to remain applicable. Mr Gulyás said in reply that the Treaty of Lisbon provides an appropriate framework for the satisfactory operation of the EU. Recently, difficulties have emerged more from the fact that the European Commission did not proceed as a guardian of the Treaties.

Hajnalka Juhász (KDNP) asked about the EU’s next strategic agenda. The Minister said the Visegrád countries had many ideas which were incorporated into the plan for the next five years, but there are still a great many things that are missing from the agenda.