The European Union will be a strong community if it is made up of strong individual national economies, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said after talks with Leo Varadkar, his Irish counterpart, in Budapest on Thursday.
“If we want to have a strong EU, each of us will have to do our own bit on the home front,” Orban said. Concerning Brexit, Orban assured Varadkar of Hungary’s support for Ireland’s special viewpoints in talks with the EU. The meeting of the two prime ministers also focused on the current situation of the EU, taxation, migration and agricultural policy, as well as Brexit.
On the subject of migration, Orban said that “Hungary is not against any other country but it insists on retaining its own identity, culture and achievements”. He said that Schengen rules must be enforced and the bloc’s external borders kept “protected and closed” in order to keep the internal borders open.
Concerning taxes, Orban said that harmonising taxes at a European level would not be good because “taxation is an important component of competition”. Referring to the EU farm policy, Orban said Hungary would not want to see changes to its main pillars and the farming sector should “receive the same [subsidies] in the future as were granted in previous years”.
Orban also praised Ireland for having resolved its financial difficulties over the past ten years. “Dublin has come a long way and Hungary takes its hat off to that achievement.” Referring to his talks with the Polish prime minister on Wednesday, Orban expressed satisfaction over his “strong start of the year”, having met with two European heads of government in two days.
Varadkar said bilateral relations were strong and that Hungary was an important economic partner. He noted that 12,000 Hungarians currently reside and have jobs in Ireland.
“We both agreed that the European Union would be diminished without the contribution of the British,” he said. The Irish PM expressed appreciation for the Hungarian government’s understanding of the specific Irish points of view with regard to Brexit negotiations, including the Irish-Northern Irish border issue. He said it was in the interest of both countries that after Brexit happens, as close links as possible should be established between the EU and the UK.
Varadkar said Ireland agreed with Hungary that the best way of ensuring stability in the Western Balkans was to take steps towards the EU integration of the former Yugoslav countries and Albania. Hungary and Ireland share the same view on European tax harmonisation as well as on the need to maintain the EU budget and development aid without changes, he said. Ireland, however, does not agree with Hungary on the issue of migration and supports the concept of joint burden-sharing within the EU, he added.