Hungary does not want a pro-immigration Europe, but a Europe that protects its borders, Szabolcs Takács, Minister of State responsible for developing and coordinating EU policies at the Prime Minister’s Office told the Hungarian news agency MTI on Tuesday in Bucharest where he attended the informal meeting of the EU ministers of EU Member States.

At the meeting, Member States outlined their positions regarding the future of the EU and the EU budget.

Mr Takács said this meeting, too, confirmed that the greatest challenge facing the European Union and so the main topic of the upcoming European parliamentary (EP) elections is immigration. He highlighted that this is not an East-West division; it is the different responses given to immigration that divide Europe.

He added that while Hungarian national interests and so the position represented by the Budapest government are different from the Brussels mainstream, this does not mean an anti-European stance. The Hungarian government stands on the foundations of European values, and is open to every kind of constructive dialogue.

“We would like a Europe which is not pro-immigration, but one which protects its borders; a Europe which does not seek an ever closer union, but one which is ready for enlargement; and a Europe which is not protectionist, but one which supports economic cooperation and the integration of Member States. On the whole, we support a strong Europe of strong nation states, rather than a United States of Europe,” the head of the Hungarian delegation pointed out.

While today pro-immigration forces are in the majority, the Hungarian government hopes that, in the wake of the elections, forces that are opposed to immigration will gain in strength in the EP, and this will also have an impact on sector-specific policies as well as on the legislative proposals that the new European Commission will table. Hungary has a vested interest not in a federal type of EU, but in an EU which duly takes account of the interests of the Member States and the citizens living in those states; an EU which bears both external and internal security in mind, and promotes economic integration.

“Central Europe is the EU’s economic engine: we would like this to be recognised also upon the distribution of funds, and it is important that they should not make politically motivated decisions, but should instead focus on the people’s best interests,” the Minister of State said. He added that he also pointed out in his address that EU funds are not donations, but payments laid down in an agreement, upon the distribution of which the security of the European people and the competitiveness of the internal market must be taken into consideration.

Regarding the EU’s budget, he said the departure of Britain – whose developments they closely monitored at the Bucharest meeting as well – does not automatically have to mean a smaller budget. Mr Takács expressed hope that on Tuesday evening the House of Commons will vote for a soft Brexit which Hungary has supported right from the beginning. He added that, regardless of Britain’s departure, the challenges facing the European Union will remain.

“As far as I see, no agreement will be reached on the budget during this term. We need a new EP, under any circumstances, whose political map will change, and at the end of the year there will also be a new European Commission. It is more democratic if we do not agree on the budget for the period between 2021-2017 with the institutions which are about to conclude their operations, but with the new ones,” the Minister of State responsible for developing and coordinating EU policies at the Prime Minister’s Office said in summary.