European Union member states, including Hungary and Poland, are in need of all the funds available “in the current challenging situation”, Fidesz MEP Balázs Hidvéghi said in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
“We ask the [EU’s] Czech presidency to help ensure that all member states, including Hungary and Poland, can access the EU funds they are entitled to as soon as possible,” Hidvéghi told Hungarian reporters after a European parliamentary debate on the priorities of Czechia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union.
This is not only needed because the EU’s eastern member states are currently facing the bloc’s biggest ever refugee crisis and taking in the most refugees, but also because the EU faces the threat of a severe economic and energy crisis, he said.
Czechia is taking over the EU’s rotating presidency in a time of unprecedented economic and security challenges, Hidvéghi said. In times like these, the bloc cannot afford to be internally divided or to be bogged down in “unnecessary debates” that go nowhere and only weaken its unity, he added.
“Having one of the Visegrád Group countries hold the presidency of the Council of the EU for the next six months gives us hope that the region’s interests will be a bigger factor in EU decision making,” Hidvéghi said.
He said Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala had outlined an appealing and realistic programme in his address at the EP plenary. Hidvéghi said the Czech presidency’s focus on energy security gave reason to be optimistic, arguing that energy supply was not an ideological issue but rather a physical one. The EU’s primary responsibility is to protect European people, families and businesses, he said.
Hidvéghi also stressed the importance of preserving Europe’s diversity, saying it should be accepted that the EU is a cooperation of many member states. It must also be accepted that member states cannot be forced to do certain things and that they make decisions at their own pace, favouring a variety of solutions, he added.
The MEP expressed support for Czechia’s position that both nuclear energy and natural gas should be considered environmentally friendly energy sources. If the EU wants to be environmentally conscious and reduce its CO2 emissions, natural gas and nuclear power will have to be part of its energy mix in the coming years, Hidvéghi said.
Concerning the EU’s Article 7 procedure against Hungary, he said the Czech presidency’s approach was similar to Hungary’s, noting that Hungary was prepared for any negotiations and took part in the talks on the basis of mutual respect.