Budapest (MTI) – Politicians discussed the future of the European Union and Hungary’s place in it at a conference on Wednesday, with all sides agreeing that the EU could serve as a positive force as long as Hungary is able to enforce its interests within it.
State Secretary Nándor Csepreghy said on behalf of the government that the EU in its current state was pointless, but added that the bloc should confront its demographic and economic challenges so that it can redefine its interests and goals. Prime Minister Viktor Orban is also working to ensure that the EU can be changed from within, he said.
The Socialist Party’s Ágnes Kunhalmi described Csepreghy’s remarks as “dangerous”, arguing that Hungary has only benefited from its EU membership. She said it was encouraging that Euroscepticism had not taken hold in Hungary “despite the government propaganda”. But Kunhalmi said the prime minister based his foreign policy in connection with the EU purely on his domestic political goals, which she said undermined Hungary’s ability to enforce its interests within the bloc.
Tibor Bana of the opposition Jobbik party said the EU could be useful if Hungary can enforce its interests “the right way”. He said that after Britain’s decision to leave the bloc, there is a chance to implement reforms that can give more powers to member states. He said the current European Union was not the kind Hungarians had voted to become members of, citing recent surveys that have indicated that two-thirds of Hungarians oppose further integration.
LMP foreign policy spokesman Péter Ungár said the EU was only useful if its “periphery countries” can close the gap to the “centre countries”. He said the EU was not moving in the right direction in this respect.
Viktor Szigetvári, leader of the Együtt party, which organised the conference, said his party wants to advance EU integration in a way that it does not harm the identities of nation states. He said, as an example, that Brussels should give member states more power to fight corruption.