Concerning EU funding, the prime minister said Hungary’s balance of profits was negative and 77 percent of this was offset by EU money, so it was right to “speak with sufficient self-awareness” while being upfront with foreign investors and European bureaucrats “rather than speaking softly, because they owe us and we don’t owe them.”
Regarding the EU recovery fund, Orbán insisted child protection law was the reason why Hungary’s EU money had been withheld, adding that the EU’s position was “groundless morally and legally”, though Hungary, he added, was “winning rather than losing the battle”.
Although the recent European court ruling “stipulates that community funds can be tied to political considerations”, the ruling’s justification also suggests that “there must be no connection in general between the rule of law and funding,” Orbán said. “We can only speak of actual cases; they can’t say ‘Hungary has no press freedom so we’re not giving them any money’.”
“We may be right but we have no money,” he said, noting however that the government was pre-financing projects until “the funds arrive before the end of the year, either partially or in full”.
Concerning tax cuts, Orbán said Hungary had the 13th most competitive tax system globally, with the corporate tax the sixth lowest in the world and personal income tax the 9th lowest. “This is what the Hungarian economy hinges on,” he said. Every effort must be made to “protect that tax system, because if it is taken apart, the competitiveness of the Hungarian economy will plummet.”
Orbán said that historically tax centralisation, at 35 percent of GDP, had never been so low, and the tax wedge had fallen from 53.1 percent to 41.2 percent in recent years.
On the subject of wages, the prime minister said: “They may be raised as high as employers and employees agree without increasing unemployment”, and he pledged the government’s continued assistance in this area.
Orbán said education and businesses should be more closely aligned, and it was not good if theory and practice inhabited separate orbits. The overhaul of the university model is costing the central budget 2,700 billion forints, but the funds, he said, “will go towards economic development too”.
“Hungarian universities should match western Europe’s competitive universities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Orbán said the government had “fulfilled every point” of an earlier agreement with the chamber, contributing to the high employment rate. The government will similarly honour another agreement, helping the country keep its GDP growth 2-3 percent above the EU average, he said.
“If in the next ten years we can implement this agreement, by 2030 we could become as developed as the EU average.
We will have defence capabilities, good universities, and a technological advantage compared with others in the region — all combined with good political leadership — so that the country will have a higher overall level of competitiveness within the region and beyond,” the prime minister said.