Schengen must be protected
14. 10. 2017.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called on European Union (EU) institutions to protect and uphold the Schengen Agreement on Friday in Bratislava Castle, where an EU meeting was held on putting an end to the practice of dual food product quality with the participation of the heads of government of the Visegrád Group (V4, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia), representatives of every EU member state, and related EU politicians.

Following discussions at the “Equal Quality Foods for Everyone” event, the Hungarian Prime Minister said Hungary’s standpoint on the future of the EU, which corresponds with the V4 standpoint, can be summarised by stating that if we want to move forward, we shouldn’t begin by stepping backwards. “In contrast, backpedalling from previously realised achievements can be experienced in several areas today, the most obvious example of which is precisely the fate of the Schengen Area”, he stressed.

Photo: Tibor Illyés/MTI

“A few years ago, the situation in Europe was that the external borders were closed and internal borders were open, but in contrast the external borders are now open and the internal borders are closed”, the Prime Minister pointed out, noting that “this is the case despite the fact that one year ago, here in Bratislava, it was declared that one of the most important tasks for heads of government was to return to the Schengen system”. “European institutions must abide by European law and we must return to upholding the Schengen Agreement”.

“It is my firm opinion that EU institutions have failed: neither the Commission, nor the Council, nor the Parliament have protected the Schengen Agreement; this is why we are where we are today”, he added.

“It is my firm belief that this practice should not and cannot continue”, Mr. Orbán said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the Visegrád Group has already issued two documents in which it has put forward its opinion with regard to the future of Europe. He also drew attention to the act that a major conference on the future of Europe and the status of the debate on the issue will be held in Budapest in January.

Photo: Tibor Illyés/MTI

Mr. Orbán said that in his personal opinion there is no such thing as the European people; there are Hungarians, Slovakians, Czechs, Poles and Germans, and a good many other nations. “If we want to reinforce confidence in Europe and Europe’s legitimacy, then we must reinforce its member states”, he said. “The European Commission should be the guardian of the treaties, not the policeman of the EU’s member states”, he declared.

“We expect European institutions to protect the existing achievements of the European Union”, Mr. Orbán said. “This is particularly true for the Commission, which should be the guardian of the treaties, and not the gendarme of the member states”, he stressed. “Today, the Commission of the gendarme of the member states, while it is failing to guard the joint achievements we have already realised. This must be changed”, Mr. Orbán underlined.

In reply to a question concerning the National Consultation on the “Soros plan”, the Prime Minister said that the topic of migration had also cropped up at the meeting, because that is always a subject of discussion.

Photo: Tibor Illyés/MTI

With regard to a question on dual food quality, Mr. Orbán said: “The fact that certain multinational companies want to feed us garbage” is not only unacceptable, but is also in violation of the regulations on the EU’s internal market.

“Protecting the internal market is the duty of the Commission”, he stated, adding that “If the institution fails to act accordingly, then the internal market will have to be protected on a national basis”.

“This means that we will wait a little longer, and if the Commission fails to initiate new legislation of its own accord, then I will be initiating new Hungarian legislation on a national basis”, the Hungarian Prime Minister said.

In addition to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Polish head of government Beata Szydlo and Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, government-level representatives from every EU member state, Czech politician Vera Jourová, the EC’s Commissioner for consumer protection, European Parliament officials responsible for agriculture and the internal market, and representatives from several consumer protection associations, were also invited to attend the meeting.

According to a preliminary statement, the event will provide an opportunity to discuss and search for solutions to the practice of splitting consumers into two groups. It is important to take the necessary action to solve the problem, the statement added.

Photo: Tibor Illyés/MTI

The heads of state of the Visegrád Group drew attention to the dual quality of foods, i.e. the fact that certain multinational companies are distributing lower quality food products in Central and Eastern Europe than they do in Western Europe under the same brand name, at the beginning of this year, declaring the practice to be fraudulent and bear a dangerous political message, and calling on the EU’S relative bodies to take urgent action to investigate the matter.

In addition to the Hungarians, the Czechs, the Slovakians, the Slovenians, the Croatians, the Romanians, the Bulgarians and the Greeks also believe that it is unacceptable that almost a hundred million European citizens only have access to lower quality food products because large food manufacturers are applying a double standard.