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V4+4 ministers for EU development meet in Budapest

Ministers responsible for European Union development funding from the Visegrád Group - Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia - met with their counterparts from Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia in Budapest on Friday, together with European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources Günther  Oettinger, to discuss plans for the EUʼs budget.   

European Commissioner Günther Oettinger (left) and János Lázár, the minister heading the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office (photo: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu).

“There is no insurmountable difference between Hungary’s goals and the European Union’s budget plans; Europe still needs a cohesion policy that balances out the developmental differences between member states,” János Lázár, the minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office, was quoted as saying by official government website kormany.hu following the V4+4 summit in Budapest.

“Hungary would like a post-2020 EU budget that enables a level of development thanks to which Hungary itself may become a net contributor in the following budgetary period,” the minister added.

Lázár noted that with Brexit the number of net contributors to the EU budget will drop by one, even as there will be more tasks to which funds must be allocated.

The minister stressed that Hungary and the region “is not looking for aid or other people’s money,” but is offering cooperation and an investment opportunity. “If the West invests in this region it will be reinforcing the competitiveness of the whole continent,” he noted.

The minister said the participants at the meeting agreed that a strong, competitive and secure Europe is needed, but also more funding to respond to new challenges. 

The representatives of the eight countries are open to the idea of raising their contributions to the EU budget to 1.1% of their gross national income (GNI), added Lázár.  

Oettinger confirmed that the participants at Fridayʼs talks already agree on most of the issues affecting the EU budget. He stressed that common EU goals must not be set aside because of Brexit, and in view of new tasks relating to research, innovation, migration, border protection and security, he said the participants’ consent toward the payment of higher contributions was an important result, kormany.hu reported.

Following the press briefing, Oettinger was received in the Parliament building by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for a working lunch.