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Orbán sets terms for supporting EU leaders, strategy

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said respect for economic sovereignty is among the conditions for Hungaryʼs support of incoming European Union leaders and EU strategy, speaking in his regular weekly interview on public radio on Friday, state news wire MTI reported.

The V4 leaders (left to right): Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovakian Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (photo: PMʼs press office)

"Economic sovereignty must be defended and respected by incoming leaders," Orbán said on government-controlled Kossuth Radio, a week ahead of an EU summit that will decide on appointments for the next institutional cycle, as well as the EUʼs strategic agenda for 2019-2024.

"The independence of member statesʼ economic policies must be respected. A uniform economic policy cannot be forced on countries which differ from each other to such an extraordinary degree," Orbán said. "We donʼt want bureaucrats in Brussels to dream up a tax system and force it upon us, or decide what the Hungarian budget should look like," he added.

On Thursday, MTI had cited Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó as saying that Hungary rejects efforts by Brussels to advance "a kind of socialist, utopian economic strategy through tax harmonization and the communitization of taxation." 

Tax harmonization, conducted by unifying member statesʼ tax policies, would set back competitiveness, while making taxation a supranational, rather than a sovereign matter, spreading the burden resulting from the undisciplined fiscal policy of some governments onto other countries, Szijjártó argued. 

Orbán added in the interview Friday that Hungaryʼs support of EU leaders and strategy also depends on a commitment to stopping migration, respect for nations, and the acknowledgement of Europeʼs system of values based on Christian culture.

V4 countries agree common position

On Thursday, MTI cited Orbánʼs press chief Bertalan Havasi as saying that the prime ministers of the Visegrád Group - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia - agreed at a meeting in Budapest to take a common stand on appointments and other issues at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels in the coming week.

Orbán hosted Slovakian Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in his office in the Castle District, said Havasi.

Babiš also informed his counterparts of programs to be launched after the Czech Republic takes over the rotating presidency of the V4 group on July 1.