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EU has lost its global role

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi/Prime Minister's Press Office

The European Union is experiencing dramatic moments in its history as due to the exit of Britain, it has lost its global leading role, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stressed at a press conference held after the summit of the Visegrád country group’s (V4) heads of government in Warsaw.

The Hungarian Prime Minister had talks with Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico in Warsaw. Poland has held the V4 Presidency since 1 July.

Prime Minister Szydlo said at the beginning of the press conference that the Warsaw summit served as a preliminary to the informal meeting of the European Council to be held on 15 September in Pozsony (Bratislava) to discuss the situation in the wake of the British referendum that decided in favour of Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit). At the current summit, the heads of government consulted with respect to their joint position, and at the summit to be held in Pozsony they will table a joint proposal regarding Brexit.

Mr Orbán took the view that the Warsaw meeting has created the foundations for the V4 to present a common European programme at the September EU summit to be held in Pozsony. There had been virtually full agreement among the Visegrád countries on fundamental values such as national traditions, Christianity and security also to date, the Prime Minister said, adding: the V4 will seek to represent the vision of this Europe jointly in Pozsony. To this end, they will have to work hard in the next few weeks, „but we have taken the initial steps”, Mr Orbán stressed.

He said in summary: the EU has found itself in a dramatic situation, and has been relegated to a mere regional player because the European Commission (EC) has given the worst possible answers to the issues of migration, and this has in consequence undermined the membership of one of the EU Member States. The Hungarian Prime Minister is of the opinion that it is now necessary to determine what the EU should do in order to become a global player once again.

Mr Orbán further established: the European Union must clarify its position on migration because at present it is not speaking sincerely and with full clarity, and fails to state its goal. The Hungarian position is clear: illegal immigration must be stopped outside European territory, refugee camps must be set up outside Europe and asylum requests must be submitted there, Mr Orbán continued.

The European Commission’s seven-point proposal regarding the reform of the refugee situation is unacceptable, he pointed out. „We do not want to give up our sovereignty and the protection of our borders”, the Hungarian Prime Minister stressed, adding that the EC’s proposals „systematically eliminate these”.

In answer to a question, Mr Orbán also said that there is a clear correlation between migration and the increased threat of terrorism. He added: those who deny this harm the security of European citizens.

Migrants are, in actual fact, victims, but migration is nonetheless a source of danger, the Prime Minister said.

He told the press: on Thursday he asked his Visegrád partners to support the Hungarian border control regime involving depth border guarding, which was introduced at the beginning of July, with further contingents of personnel.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in reply: the Hungarian Government can rely on Slovakia’s assistance in border controls. Cooperation between the two countries in this field has been highly beneficial also to date, Mr Fico pointed out.

The Slovak Prime Minister took the view regarding the increased security risks that are related to the migration crisis and result from immigration that we should finally talk about the threats openly.

Photo: Balázs Szecsődi/Prime Minister's Press Office

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo summed up the common Visegrád position relating to the post-Brexit situation by saying that the European Union’s institutions are at present failing to meet the expectations of the European people, and therefore a new debate should be opened in Europe regarding this in the wake of the referendum resulting in Britain’s exit from the EU.

The V4 will play a highly proactive role in the changes that the EU is facing, and will present proposals which will make the European community stronger, Mrs Szydlo said.

„The EU is a value for the European people which must be preserved, but it must undergo changes as well”, the Polish Prime Minister stressed. She took the view that the outcome of the British referendum creates an opportunity for changing the functioning of the EU in a way that „pays more attention to the decisions of the sovereign national parliaments, and is less concerned with the issues of its own institutional functioning”.

From among the necessary changes, Mrs Szydlo highlighted „stronger surveillance on the part of the Member States over the EU’s decision-making processes”, and mentioned as a negative example the decision adopted by the European Commission on Wednesday, based on which it maintains unchanged its proposal relating to the amendment of the Posting of Workers Directive despite protests from a great many Member States.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said regarding the summit to be held in Pozsony: the Czech Republic expects decisions, in consequence of which the EU becomes more human. The Czech Prime Minister pointed out that three issues are particularly important for Prague, namely: security policy, guaranteed economic growth and the fulfilment of the original roles of EU institutions. „The European Union must play a key role in the debate on the future of Europe, and the EU must control this debate”, the Czech Prime Minister highlighted.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)

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