There is a need for a strategy that focuses on the needs of the European Union, and the real challenge is how to strengthen economic performance and competitiveness, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at an online international conference entitled ‘Europe Uncensored’ held on Wednesday.
The prime minister highlighted that the problem is that in the past few years, during times of crises, the EU has always adopted a tactical approach and has given reactive answers. However, instead of tactics we need strategy and proactive answers, he stated.
He added he hopes that the European People’s Party will be the engine in the development and implementation of a new European strategy.
He stressed that Europe was in retreat; this is supported by facts. Europe is doing worse in terms of its reproduction rate, defence expenditures and importance in the world economy. At the same time, the balance of power has also changed as 30 years ago the French-German axis was dominant, and the United Kingdom carried the flag for the Europe of Nations concept. This guaranteed a state of balance which existed even when the countries of Central Europe joined the EU, he pointed out.
Today, however, France is seriously in debt, Britain has left the EU, and Germany is again the strong member state from which everyone expects a solution whenever difficulties emerge. This is the new power reality in Europe, he observed.
The prime minister recalled that recently there had been three crises in Europe, the financial crisis, the migration crisis and most recently the coronavirus pandemic. Each was handled differently in the two corners of the continent, he added.
He said during the financial crisis, in the West the goal was to create a welfare state, while in Central Europe, and in particular in Hungary, the response was to create a workfare society. As regards the migration crisis, the West sought to solve its demographic problems with immigration, while the people of Central Europe did not want to bring the problems of other civilisations here, he said.
He stressed that it is also a problem that while Europe is unable to solve its own problems, it wants to solve the problems of the world and wants to tell its international partners how to lead their countries.
He said we must put an end to this practice, and must return to the approach that Europe must primarily concentrate on its own internal problems, and once it has done that, only then should it offer advice to others.
According to Orban, there are two different concepts in European debates. One concept is the liberal, left-wing, progressive, semi-Marxist approach which supports multiculturalism and migration, is anti-family policy, is against nations and nation states, and finds Christian social teachings irrelevant, he listed. He added that the other concept is based on Christian culture that we have inherited; this concept is anti-communist, is committed to families, and treats national identity as a value.
The prime minister asked the question of how to keep the EU together, given such differences.
He took the view that this is only possible if the West does not force its own views on Central Europe, if they respect and accept differences. He said it is a basic precondition that Central Europeans should not be told how to live their lives.
Regarding the next multiannual EU budget, he said in the last 30 years it was always a success because while there were many disputes, they always found a compromise which was good for everyone. Also now, we need such a compromise, he underlined.
He said the EU wants to create a Next Generation Fund as well. The name of the fund should be taken literally because indeed next generations will be paying for it as it is a credit facility, he pointed out.
He stressed that Hungary does not like to manage crises with loans, but we must accept this approach in the interest of the countries in trouble. We need a fair and flexible distribution mechanism, and so tough negotiations are expected in the near future, he added.