Other available languages: HU
Can I first of all say that it makes me glad to be back here in Hungary, in Budapest this morning - on a working visit as part of my "tour des capitales". And I would also like to thank Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for his hospitality. It reminds me of the days of the successful Hungarian EU Presidency. Later today I will also meet with the President of the Hungarian National Assembly and the President of Hungary.
During our meeting this morning, the Prime Minister and I discussed a number of current issues. Allow me to highlight a few of them here.
Firstly and most importantly, we discussed the economic and social situation in Europe. As I have said before - and others like me - I believe that 2012 marked a turning point in the crisis in the euro zone - and that the worst is now hopefully behind us. But we should not become complacent - neither in Member States nor at the level of the European Union and the euro zone. There is no real alternative to keep up reforming our economies. There is no way back for any of our Member States.
We must continue to move, gradually yet relentlessly, towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union. For this to happen, the European Council has set out a number of priorities for the months to come. Most importantly, rapid progress should be made towards a banking union that will help restore normal lending conditions to our economies. This is indispensable to strengthen growth and employment on a lasting basis. In this context, we also discussed the concerns of non-euro Member States like Hungary interested to participate in the banking union. I made it clear that the concerns of non-euro Member States are fully legitimate. And those concerns are taken into account in the ongoing legislative work.
Likewise, all Member States must continue the important and necessary work of reforming their own economies to increase their competitiveness and to consolidate - in a sustainable manner - their public finances. This is not an end in itself, but our best strategy to revive economic growth and job creation, and ensure high levels of welfare to the citizens of the Union.
We also discussed the important deal on the Union's budget for the next seven years, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework. It was a good and important agreement for Hungary. And it was a good and important agreement for the Union as whole. The 27 EU Heads of State and Government assumed their responsibility and reconciled their 27 national interests with that of the overall interest of the Union. We agreed on a budget that does not only reflect the economic constraints in Member States - but also shows the way forward in reorienting the budget towards more jobs, especially for young unemployed, and growth. It is now for the European Parliament to assume its responsibility. I reiterate that it was a good result for Hungary.
As regards the legal proceedings launched last year by the Commission, I understand that substantial progress has been achieved. I encourage the Hungarian government to continue working constructively with the Commission to clarify all outstanding issues.
Finally, we also discussed a number of other topics like energy and the Eastern Partnership. All issues that will be on the agenda of upcoming meetings of the European Council. I also thank the Prime Minister for his excellent cooperation in the European Council.