Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party believes it should only remain a member of the European People’s Party (EPP) as long as it can help the grouping, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday, adding that the European Parliament election results suggested that the EPP was is in need of help rather than Fidesz.
Gergely Gulyás told a regular press briefing in response to a question that Fidesz would be happy to share its experiences with the EPP so that it could become a political family capable of preserving its own values and have a clear vision of the future, he added.
Decisions affecting the European Union’s strategy for the next five years and officials must serve the purpose of making the bloc successful, he said.
As regards strategy, Hungary has made its position clear that member states should be given enough freedom to formulate their own national economic policy, Gulyás said.
The EU must also declare that there is a dominant culture, which is the Christian one, he said, adding that the EU should protect persecuted Christian communities.
Concerning the upcoming election of senior EU officials, Gulyás said the Visegrád Group countries have coordinated their positions ahead of the EU summit starting in Brussels on Thursday.
The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia support neither the spitzenkandidat system nor the election of Manfred Weber as European Commission president, he said.
Gulyas said it would be wrong to let the European parliamentary groups choose the next EC president, arguing that the spitzenkandidat system went against the Lisbon Treaty and EU law.
He noted that Weber “has made clear that he does not want the support of the party that was given the biggest mandate by Hungarians” in the EP election. Gulyás said the EU needed leaders “who haven’t attacked any of the member states in recent years”.
Gulyás said the V4 had not agreed on a joint candidate to support but there were several whom they would accept.
In response to a question, he said Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, was one of the candidates the V4 would find acceptable.
Gulyás said the V4 would also form a common stance on the EU’s climate strategy for the Brussels summit. He said the goals of the Paris climate accords could not be met without nuclear power.
On another subject, Gulyás said it was key for the EU to open accession talks with the Western Balkan countries within the next five-year cycle. Several of those countries have “done a lot” to advance accession talks “but it looks like the EU is not ready to add new members”, he said.
As regards the case of former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski, who has been granted asylum in Hungary, Gulyás said the Hungarian government had not entered into any contractual relationship with him. Gruevski receives the same amount of help as anyone else given refugee status, Gulyás said. The PM’s Office chief said he had no knowledge of any changes to Gruevski’s refugee status, adding that the decision on whether or not to extradite him will be made by the courts.
Concerning domestic affairs, Gulyás said the slowing European and global economy had not yet shown signs of affecting Hungary’s economy, adding that the government’s action plan was aimed at maintaining current growth or keeping it 2 percentage points above the EU average.
Answering a question about inflation, Gulyás said it may end up being higher than 2.7 percent targeted this year.
Meanwhile, Gulyás said that the finance and interior ministries were scheduled to move from central Pest to the Castle District on the Buda side at the end of the government cycle, in early 2022.
Concerning leaked footage of earlier talks concerning planned changes to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), Gulyás said the government and academny had been in agreement that the academy would not be stripped of its research institutes, but the MTA’s head had “breached that agreement”, therefore the government had reworded its draft of the MTA law.
Answering another question about a Brussels-Budapest Wizz Air flight cancelled on Wednesday, Gulyás said that consumer protection proceedings would follow and the government would “propose imposing the highest fine possible”.
Gulyás also said that MEP-elect László Trocsányi’s mandate as justice minister would terminate on June 30, and it was up to the prime minister to select his successor.