Hungary’s leader, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of his European counterparts in the Friends of Cohesion group, said that tension had mounted between advocates of various positions on the single budget.
“The debate is about how Europe and members of the EU can be helped one by one out of the crisis Europe is now in,” Orban said. He added that community funds would still be needed for EU members to cope with the crisis.
“In the next seven years Hungary will need at least as much investment and aid as it received during the past seven-year period,” Orban said.
He proposed careful negotiations and arguments drawn from real-world experience to convince members against reducing cohesion funds.
“We will make it clear that the EU cannot exist without shared European development initiatives; Europe does not exist if poorer countries which joined the community later are not helped by their better-off peers,” Orban said. He also noted that the EU’s most successful enterprise ever had been its joint economic development programme, which created several million jobs.
“Reality is our greatest argument and mightiest ally,” the prime minister said. “I have made the bulk of the necessary alliances and when we had to meet a challenge, we made Hungary’s position clear,” he said.
In a joint declaration adopted at the meeting, the group’s 15 members expressed support for a budget in which they want to include a 339 billion euro allocation for cohesion funding, 15.8 billion euros less than in the previous period. Net contributors to the European budget, on the other hand, want to see a reduction between 100-150 billion euros.