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Orbán wonʼt let Brussels interfere with energy prices

The Hungarian government will not allow Brussels to interfere with the decision-making of the authorities over energy prices, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview this morning with state-owned Kossuth Radio, according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

Orbán on the radio today (photo: MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák).

Orbán said that if the right of authorities to determine energy prices were to be taken away, then the governmentʼs scheme to keep utility bills low would be compromised. 

The prime minister insisted that competition in the energy sector did not lead to lower prices due to "all sorts of backroom deals," and that prices would rise instead. The government will defend low utility bills, and while the struggle will be hard "we have every chance of success," Orbán said.

In a recent interview, Minister of National Development Miklós Seszták said the government could mandate further reductions in household energy prices if global energy prices level out or continue to fall, adding that prices are not expected to increase even if global energy prices do.

The government kept retail energy prices mostly frozen under a centrally regulated utilities price regime it introduced shortly after it came to power in 2010, and made a series of sharp price reductions in 2013-2014.

Orbán also noted in the interview that the Hungarian jobless rate has fallen below 5%, meaning that "everyone has access to some kind of work, as a fostered worker in the worst case."

The aim now is to make it more and more worthwhile to take a job in Hungary, and the logic of the government decisions is to give tax reductions to everyone who in turn raises wages, the prime minister said. The tax reductions raise competitiveness while wage rises help improve labor force quality, he added.