PM Viktor Orbán said in his today interview that Brussels “should suspend its policy of raising prices” to shelter households from the effects of the war which could result in bills potentially three to four times their current level.
“Brussels bureaucrats hate this Hungarian proposal,” he said, adding the issue would have to be approached “very carefully”. Sooner or later the EU would have to realise that “the policy of raising prices artificially” should be abandoned, he added.
Orbán said the war had merely accelerated energy price inflation which he blamed on EU policymaking.
The European Commission insists that households should be forced to use less energy to protect the climate, “and that’s why they’re raising energy prices every year…”
At least half the inflation rate is due to rising energy prices, Orbán said, adding that inflation could be kept in check were it not for “Brussels bureaucrats” putting extra costs on energy consumption. On the issue of possible food shortages due to the war in Ukraine, Orbán said the French president and other European leaders had “sounded the alarm” on this matter.
Grain shortages can destabilise not only countries but entire regions and continents,
Orbán noted. With production losses in Ukraine, the knock-on effect would be “millions of migrants” coming to Europe. The Arab spring, he added, “caused by a shortage of grain”, was one of the triggers of the great wave of migration in recent years.
At its current level of technology,
Hungary can supply 17 million people with food,
Orbán said, but if “we did things better”, this could be increased to 20 million. If prices ran away, he said, suddenly buyers would appear offering such high prices for Hungarian produce that they would simply “suck the food supplies out of Hungary”.
He said this was why it had been necessary to introduce restrictions on grain exports, a decision which the EU had taken issue with. The state, he noted, has pre-emption rights on grain if the country’s security situation warranted it.
“We’re not taking anything from anybody; we are not Communists,” Orbán said. “But we will protect our national interest, and if Hungary needs the amount of grain affected by a given contract, then we will step in and buy it at that price.”
Currently, this policy does not align with EU rules, Orbán said, adding however that he believed that those rules would sooner or later have to be changed “as
every country will have to guarantee secure food supply for its own citizens”.