Viktor Orbán’s press statement following a meeting of the European Council
21 June 2019, Brussels

Katalin Zöldhegyi (Hír TV): Prime Minister, do you think there was any progress at the EU summit on allocating EU leadership positions? And what chance do you think the V4 [the Visegrád 4] has of supplying one of those leaders?

We’ve taken some important steps forward. In Hungary, we – and I – received a great deal of support: 53 per cent. This is unprecedented, and almost no one in Europe has such support. And so we – and I – have made serious commitments. I’ve said that with this level of support I can prevent the selection of European Union leaders who argue in favour of immigration. And I’ve also committed to preventing the selection of a leader in the EU who doesn’t respect Hungary and the Central European countries. These two commitments were successfully fulfilled yesterday, with the two lead candidates – Mr. Weber and Mr. Timmermans – falling by the wayside, because neither of them satisfied these two requirements. Their departure is good news for Hungary.

Katalin Zöldhegyi (Hír TV): Could you tell us if the V4 has a chance of providing someone to occupy a leadership position in the EU?

Yes, we have a good chance of that. The V4 has two or three candidates for each EU position: we have candidates, and we have a good chance of being able to strongly represent the V4 in the negotiations in the week ahead.

Eszter Baraczka (M1): At several times during the night, and in several press conferences, we heard that no one is willing to mention names. Could the Prime Minister just tell us whether the list of known – or unknown – candidates has been shortened, or whether new names have been added? Are there some candidates who are acceptable for Hungary?

The V4 has proposals: these are specific names, and they’re all good for Hungary – and also good for Central Europe. We must be careful about names, because if we speak about names there are some whose chances will be improved, while the chances of others will be damaged. This is the nature of this specialist branch of the business of politics, if I may put it that way: there’s a particular logic to timing, the practice of discretion, and the well-timed breakthrough. What is certain is that this week – sometime in the middle of the week – the V4 leaders will meet for final face-to-face talks. Then we’ll come back here on Sunday, when we’ll see each other again, and on Sunday evening the V4 – hopefully in a strong condition – will seek to represent the interests of Central Europe. The chances are good: we have good candidates, and I think that they will make it.

Eszter Baraczka (M1): There was one other item on the agenda at yesterday’s summit which no one thought would provoke major debate – but in fact it did. It relates to climate issues. The plan was for the European Union to identify highly ambitious targets: for carbon neutrality in the European Union by 2050. This plan failed, with the final text proving to be more restrained. It has been reported that this was because some countries – including Hungary – rejected the original text. What was our objection?

This is indeed true, so these rumours were based in reality. Together with the other countries, Hungary has made commitments to climate targets. We can achieve them by 2030: we have plans for this, we can do this and we have the money to ensure that meeting the climate targets doesn’t result in higher household utility bills. So we’ll be able to meet the targets we’ve set for 2030 in order that our climate improves, but without Hungarian families having to pay more for energy. The proposal was that now we should go further and also make undertakings for 2050. We said that we agree that by 2050 we should achieve a so-called “carbon-neutral, zero-emissions” European energy system. We simply asked where the money for this will come from. We agree with the goal, but we won’t make any commitments until we see where the money is coming from. So let’s start talking about money. We’ll make commitments if there’s money, if the EU makes funds available for this purpose, and if we’re able to modernise the Hungarian energy system without families having to pay more for energy. But for this we’ll need to negotiate for a few months. We are open to this, and we will negotiate.

Eszter Baraczka (M1): At the same time, if I’m not mistaken there’s a sentence in the document which is advantageous for Hungary; it states that each Member State will have the right and competence to design its own energy mix. I think that the inclusion of this is not insignificant, bearing in mind Paks [nuclear power plant].

In connection with climate targets there was also a side debate about the issue of nuclear energy. The Hungarian position is clear: if we want to achieve climate targets, we need nuclear energy. One or two countries dispute this, but they’re in a very small minority. Therefore we’ve resolved this controversy by saying that every country will continue to have the right to decide whether or not they want to use nuclear energy in the future. Hungary wants to do this, because there won’t be low household utility bills without Paks.

Eszter Baraczka (M1): I have one final question in this regard. We heard reports yesterday that in fact it was Angela Merkel who understood the arguments of countries rejecting the 2050 climate targets, and who sided with them. Is this true?

She – and others – understood that we’re not rejecting climate targets. Climate targets are good things, but we can only commit to them if we can see the sources of financing; otherwise we would be imposing unbearable burdens on voters and households in Central Europe – including in Hungary. This means that, going beyond the expression of good intentions, we should only make statements on specific commitments once we see the financial resolution. This is because the purpose of regulations is to make things better for the people, not worse. If the climate is better but people cannot pay their energy bills, then we’re solving one problem by creating an even bigger one. So we need a solution in which we have climate targets and are also able to maintain low household utility bills. This requires money, and we must negotiate and come to an agreement on this.

Thank you very much, Prime Minister. Have a good journey.