“There is no insurmountable difference between Hungary’s goals and the European Union’s budget plans; Europe still needs a cohesion policy that balances out the developmental differences between member states”, Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár said following the V4+4 summit in Budapest, at which representatives of eight countries held talks with EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

Following a meeting between representatives of the countries of the Visegrád Group, four other EU member states and the European Commission’s Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther Oettinger, Mr. Lázár declared: “Hungary would like a post-2020 EU budget that enables a level of development thanks to which Hungary itself may become a net contributor in the following budgetary period”.

DownloadPhoto: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

“In view of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, there will be one less contributing country, but despite the reduced income we have more tasks to perform”, he added.

Mr. Lázár indicated that the participants of the meeting also believe that a strong, competitive and safe Europe is needed, but that more money is also required in view of common goals and new challenges. “For this reason, the representatives of the eight countries agreed that an increase in EU contributions may be required, and did not reject the possibility of increasing their contributions to 1.1 percent of their gross national income (GNI)”, he added.

The Minister said reducing bureaucracy was in everyone’s mutual interests, and accordingly called for simpler, cheaper and faster administration and budgetary realisation. He said previous cohesion policy had been successful, but warned that the process of cohesion is not yet over, and encouraged the European Commission to develop an ambitious budget.

DownloadPhoto: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

In reply to a question, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office declared that both contributors and beneficiaries have all profited from cohesion policy, and Central Europe has fulfilled its commitments. He stressed that Hungary and the region is not looking for aid or other people’s money, but is offering cooperation and an investment opportunity. “If the West invests in this region it will be reinforcing the competitiveness of the whole continent”, he added.

Mr. Lázár said that developing areas of countries with remaining growth capacities is of key importance, as is Hungary’s share of agricultural policy subsidies.

Commissioner Oettinger confirmed that the participants of Friday’s meeting already agree on the vast majority of issues relating to the EU budget. He stressed that common EU goals must not be set aside because of Brexit, and in view of new tasks relating to research, innovation, migration, border protection and security, he said the participants’ consent toward the payment of higher contributions was an important result.

The European Commissioner highlighted the fact that increasing Europe’s competiveness and economic strength, solidarity and sustainability are all closely connected to cohesion policy, and similarly to Minister Lázár called for the simplification of regulatory frameworks. “The EU must show that it is also capable of acting, of solidarity and of good governance even during difficult times”, he added.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/kormany.hu

Following the press conference, Günther Oettinger was received in Hungary’s Parliament Building by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for a working lunch.