The Prime Minister told reporters that the Friends of Cohesion group of countries has decided to rename itself the “Budget for an Ambitious Europe Group”, and that its members have accepted the proposition that “if we want an ambitious Europe, we need an ambitious budget”. The group’s member countries have suggested that the financial calculations should be compared to a European Parliament proposal for each of the 27 Member States to contribute a standard rate of 1.3 per cent of GNI to the budget.
Mr. Orbán said that there is no possibility for a compromise between the two positions, and that if there is no agreement on the amount being paid into the budget, then there can be no discussion on how to distribute it.
He said that “At the moment, we are very far from an agreement; there are two positions which are very far from each other, and we will continue discussions at some point in the future.”
In his statement he said that the four contributor countries in question had stated that Mr. Michel’s proposal, which he presented last week, was not a basis for negotiation. They had said that their national parliaments have mandated them not to depart from the 1 per cent figure.
The Prime Minister said that the Hungarian assessment of the situation is that the distance between 1 and 1.3 per cent is too large to be bridged, so there would be no immediate agreement on it.
Mr. Orbán stressed that one thing needs to be clarified: there can be no continuation of the arrangement whereby rich countries pay less than poor countries as a proportion of gross domestic product. He asserted the Hungarian position that it will be impossible to adopt a stable budget unless its foundations are equitable.
“If in Europe we really want to achieve something in terms of border defence, digitalisation, industrial policy, agriculture, cohesion and infrastructure development”, he said, “then we cannot draw the line at 1 per cent, but we must commit to everyone paying in 1.3 per cent.”
The Prime Minister described the meetings in Brussels as difficult, but “very good” negotiations. In this regard he observed that in parallel with financial negotiations the debate was about the future of Europe.
“The debate is about how ambitious we want Europe to be”, he said. “Obviously, if we want to sustain Europe, we need an internal market – the two pillars of which are agricultural support and the Cohesion Fund”.
He noted that the financial figures must therefore be consistent with an overall vision for the future of the European Union, and that ambitious goals cannot be financed with the same amount of money that was available in the budget period leading up to and including 2020. The EU is facing new challenges, he underlined, and new tasks will require additional resources.
In answer to a question, he stated that at this stage in negotiations there had been no mention of the proposal to make payment of EU funds conditional on compliance with “rule of law” criteria. He said that this question might appear on the agenda in the final stages of budget negotiations.