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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following his meeting with Mr Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary
30 January 2013
Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the Commission today. We have had many meetings in different occasions, but in fact the last formal meeting was here in April last year and indeed much has happened since then. So we dealt with a range of issues on the current EU agenda, and we have also discussed some important issues for Hungary itself.
We discussed, of course, the upcoming European Council on the 7th-8th February where we will deliberate on the European Union budget for the years between 2014 and 2020.
The Prime Minister and I agreed that it is fundamental for the European Union’s future that a good deal is reached at the end of this second round of discussions. Of course, this is an important moment and we have also to keep in mind that at the end we need the consent of the European Parliament. And for the Commission, the European Union's budget is very much part of Europe's overall strategy to deal with the economic crisis. It is a crucial European tool for growth, for investment, for solidarity.
And while the MFF has obviously a strong solidarity side, it is not just money for the most vulnerable regions of Europe. The Multiannual Financial Framework offers even to the strongest Member States a European dimension to their economic growth, their infrastructure and their research, which provides huge benefits also to them.
So that's why I'm saying that all Member States are net beneficiaries of the budget. And we are in a moment where we need to sustain growth. It makes sense, at this moment in the European integration and in the European economic situation, to use what we can do at the European level for added value in terms of investment in growth.
The reality is that further efforts will be needed to bring the different positions together. The Commission will continue to work towards an agreement between the Member States and also between the European institutions. As I said, a final agreement indeed requires the European Parliament's consent.
Prime Minister Orbán and myself also talked about the on-going efforts to enhance the Economic and Monetary Union. We agreed that deeper integration of the Euro area is crucial for the restoration of confidence in the European Union as a whole. All will benefit, not only the members of the euro zone but also those who are not set to adopt the euro in the near future.
Therefore it is also important that the largest possible number of states adhere to the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the next pillars of the banking union. I believe this is the best safeguard against potential shocks.
Regarding the relations between the Commission and Hungary, we have cooperated successfully on those legal issues which had caused some concern to the Commission and where EU law was breached. I am happy to see that step by step, case by case, we are finding solutions.
I would like to acknowledge the swift response of the Hungarian authorities to the judgement of the European Court of Justice on the retirement age of judges. The new draft bill has been submitted to the Commission within the agreed timeframe. We are in the process of analysis and I am confident that, thanks to our close collaboration, we will be able to close the case in the near future.
I think this spirit of cooperation that was agreed between the Prime Minister and myself some time ago has shown results and it is in this spirit of cooperation and confidence that we want to close all the files once we have checked that all the measures have been taken.
The Prime Minister and I also discussed Hungary's efforts to improve the economic situation of Hungary.
We exchanged views on how to ensure that these efforts produce tangible and lasting effects in terms of growth and jobs, but also sustainable public finances that can contribute to investors' confidence and macroeconomic stability.
I welcomed the fiscal consolidation achieved so far and the commitment of the Hungarian government to continue its efforts to keep the deficit well below 3% of GDP. But I also encouraged Prime Minister to pay closer attention to the quality of this adjustment. The Commission will come with an assessment of the recent measures in its winter economic forecasts to be published on 22 February.
I want to thank once again the Prime Minister for his determination. I know that some of these measures are difficult and that the Hungarian citizens feel in some cases the difficulties of these measures, but I think we can all agree that without sound public finances there is not going to be full confidence. Without confidence there is no investment. Without investment – no growth. That is why it is critically important to be determined in correcting the fiscal imbalances for sustainable growth and for a solid basis for growth. That is what all Hungarians, I am sure, expect and what all the Europeans would like to see.
To conclude, let me once more thank the Prime Minister for the very open and friendly exchanges today. I think it was a very good meeting and I hope that we can keep this level of cooperation in the future.
I thank you for your attention.