The Visegrád countries have nothing to fear on account of questions raised or intended to be raised in the context of the rule of law. A number of audits conducted in recent years clearly prove that Hungary satisfies all European requirements, Szabolcs Takács, Minister of State for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office said in Brussels on Thursday.

At his press conference held in connection with the multiannual financial framework for the period beyond 2020, the Minister of State underlined that Hungary and the rest of the Visegrád countries are open to discussions regarding the new mechanism proposed by the European Commission – which would protect the EU budget from financial risks attached to deficiencies that may emerge in the Member States in respect of the rule of law – if it is in harmony with the Treaties of the European Union and if it applies to all EU Member States to the same extent and degree.

Also in this respect the application of double standards is not acceptable. This is not fair, and the Visegrád countries reject it, Mr Takács stated.

He stressed that the EU Treaties are binding not only on the Member States, but also on EU institutions, which means that every institution must observe the regulations relating to the rule of law. We cannot allow the proposed regulation to become a politically motivated rule that is only applicable to some countries.

In his view, it would be more democratic if negotiations regarding the new budget were conducted with the new European Parliament to be elected in a year’s time which will perhaps have somewhat different ideas concerning the future of Europe compared with those shared by the incumbent parliament. More and more Member States are raising this issue as the quality and content of the budget are much more important than its swift adoption, and it is also imperative that it should respond to the new challenges, whilst strengthening the roles of conventional policies, he added.

He highlighted that it is important to adopt a thoroughly considered decision because there are disparities in contributions in the system at present. It would not be advantageous if they opted for the implementation of the concept that the Central and Eastern European countries should make a higher contribution to the EU budget pro rata whilst reducing the amounts of their cohesion and agricultural grants, he stressed.

The Minister of State pointed out repeatedly that the grants received from the cohesion funds are not “charitable donations” from the EU or other EU Member States. These grants are funds laid down in the Treaties of the EU which are accessible to all Member States, including net contributor countries, he added.

He said it is in every Member State’s best interest that the budget is adopted once a proposal has been tabled which is in line with the interests of every Member State and the European Union itself. The budget must be able to respond to new challenges, and must ensure that the European Union be safe, competitive and dynamic, he underlined. The V4 are prepared to talk about the new challenges that funds should be allocated to in the new budget, and they are open to looking into and discussing new proposals. They insist, however, that the currently existing national decision-making powers must not be delegated to EU competence, Mr Takács added.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)