José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Joint press point of President Barroso with Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary
Brussels, 3 June 2010
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very glad to welcome Prime Minister Viktor Orbán who has chosen to visit the European Commission right after taking up office. The fact that he comes here so soon after his investiture is a good signal of his personal commitment to our common European project.
I have known Prime minister Viktor Orbán for many years now and I know how much he cares for Europe and how much he is ready to put his political energy not only in the service of his country Hungary, but also of our common European project.
I also congratulated Prime Minister Orbán who won the elections of his country with more than a two thirds majority. This is not common in Europe. I think that gives the new Prime Minister and the new government of Hungary a great political authority to achieve what we need in Europe – not only fiscal consolidation, but also structural reforms that are needed for the competitiveness of Europe to keep what we call our social market economy and of course to work for the prosperity of our citizens.
Today we have discussed mainly the upcoming Hungarian Presidency of the Council and the economic situation in Europe and Hungary.
For the first time, in the first half of 2011, Hungary will be at the helm of the European Union. We have a close and constructive cooperation with Hungary on its presidency and I am glad to see that the emerging priorities for that Presidency are fully in line with the Commission's priorities.
Hungary will bear considerable responsibility to help the Union addressing the economic challenges we are facing in a determined and coordinated manner.
Beyond the continued need to re-establish confidence in Europe's economy, the presidency will come at a crucial time to implement our common Europe 2020 strategy. That is why I am particularly grateful for the Hungarian support of this strategy.
The role of the presidency is indispensable, in particular in pursuing the work on the flagship initiatives of Europe 2020 and on the policy recommendations to Member States.
If everything goes as planned it will be during the Hungarian presidency of the Council, in the first half of 2011, that we will have the new governance system of the Europe 2020 strategy in place, which requires much more efforts of coordination between the European institutions and the governments to implement that strategy.
But the current Presidency will come also at a moment where, if everything goes as we expect, we will have a new economic governance in the European Union.
You know that we are now discussing this. The European Commission put forward on 12 May a Communication. There is work going on on that matter, so most likely we will have this new governance in Europe for stronger economic policy coordination during the first semester of 2011. We have proposed a European semester which means a semester where we put together the preparation not only of the Stability and Growth Pact but also of the structural reforms and all the flagship initiatives of our Europe 2020 strategy.
I look forward to a close collaboration between the Presidency and the European Commission at this crucial time.
According to our calendar it should be during the Hungarian presidency that we will present the proposal for the future financial perspectives. Also here we see a lot of things in common between Hungary and the European Commission about what can be important targets for the next financial perspectives. So you see there is a lot of work to do.
On the economy, I am pleased to see that Hungary is determined to reinforce the efforts for fiscal consolidation. As you know there is a program run by the European Union and the IMF for balance of payments support and we believe that some of the turbulences have been avoided.
Regarding the future, there is no room for complacency. Pursuing fiscal consolidation, meeting the agreed deficit targets, continuing structural reforms, all these lines are crucial not only for Hungary, but for all Member States of the European Union and I have encouraged Prime Minister Orbán to do everything that is in his power to address the structural problems of Hungary, to pursue and accelerate if possible fiscal consolidation efforts in his country.
I believe that without serious efforts we will not be able to fully restore confidence in Europe's economy. Without confidence there will be no growth, without growth no employment. The issue of the financial credibility is fundamental and cannot be separated from the rest. Without fiscal consolidation, without financial rigor, there will be no possibility for confidence and for growth.
With far-reaching structural reforms also using the potential of Europe 2020 Hungary can lay the foundations for an economic re-birth and modernization. We had a very deep discussion about these matters.
The leadership of Viktor Orbán comes at a crucial moment also because of the economic situation. This is the right time for Europe, and I hope also for Hungary, to make the structural reforms that have been postponed for so many years in countries of the euro zone, but also outside the euro zone. If we don't use this opportunity I don't see when we will address these issues.
Let me conclude with a note of solidarity: over the last weeks Hungary was exposed to heavy rains and floods: After the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism on 25 May more than 2 million sandbags were offered from Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Croatia. I am truly impressed by the effectiveness of how this European solidarity has been put into effect.
Let me express my sympathy and solidarity with all those affected by the floods and assure you that the Commission continues to do its utmost to help the people in Hungary facing these natural calamities.
I am sure that Hungary will come out stronger of the current situation. I count on Hungary and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to do everything in the European Union and also in the Visegrad countries for our common future in order to reinforce the agenda for a stronger European Union. This is one of the mottos of the future Hungarian presidency, a stronger Union, and I think that this is very important to achieve not only during the first half of next year, but the Hungarian Presidency will be a great opportunity to consolidate this line in Hungary, in the Visegrad countries and in general in the European Union.