“Hungary would like to become a net contributor”, Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár (pictured) said at a conference in Brussels on Monday about the next EU budget, 444.hu reports.
Minister Overseeing the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár attended the EU’s Shaping Our Future: Designing the Next Multiannual Financial Framework conference in Brussels to communicate the Hungarian government’s standpoint regarding the next EU budget. Breaking with the growing EU skepticism of his party and government, Lázár said at the conference that a stronger EU is desirable and Hungary is ready to pay more into the common budget.
Little money, little soccer; big money, big soccer
“We would like to become net contributors, however, unfortunately, we are not yet,” Lázár started his speech. He also urged the EU to be “aggressive and brave” when planning the next budget. “We are ready to pay more, we are ready to raise our contribution to 1.2 percent GNI pro rata,” Lázár said.
According to him, the EU should spend more on increasing the Union’s security and competitiveness. “We want a stronger Europe,” Lázár presented as the Hungarian government’s standpoint. He also noted that EU grants are a win-win situation as a huge amount of the grants eventually go to companies based in net contributor countries. Regarding a bigger EU budget, Lázár cited a quote that is attributed to Hungarian soccer player Ferenc Puskás: “Little money, little soccer; big money, big soccer.”
Despite Prime Minister Viktor Orbán referring to Brexit last year as the first victory of the revolution of national sovereignty, Lázár said that after Brexit “it would deliver an important political message, that given there will be less of us in the EU, there should be an opportunity to be more of us in the future.” Therefore Hungary suggested that the EU should consider allocating funds from the next budget to prepare for membership of the West Balkan states.
Fading memories of an evil EU
In March 2016, Lázár claimed that if the profit made by foreign companies in Hungary is taken into account, “we are in fact, net contributors.” He added that if all costs are taken into account, “actually we don’t get anything” from the EU. In an interview the same year, Lázár’s deputy, undersecretary Nándor Csepreghy, went further and claimed that because of the tax and customs revenue lost as a result of Hungary’s EU memberships, Hungary is actually losing money by being a member. In a June 2016 government info press conference, Lázár went so far as to claim that if there were a vote about Hungary’s EU membership, he would not be able to wholeheartedly vote for remaining in the EU.
In a December 2017 radio interview, Orbán claimed that “the Hungarian economy can be operated without EU funds” and contended that Hungary’s economic policy is flexible, and even if Hungary were not to receive EU funds “there would be growth, even then we would be successful.”
Higher contribution, more EU funds
The logic behind the usual Fidesz double-talk is that despite all the EU bashing and “Let’s stop Brussels” campaigns, Orbán and members of his party are very well aware of the fact that Hungary is, in fact, a huge net recipient of EU funds. The formula is simple: the higher the contribution paid by the EU Member States is, the more funds Hungary and other Eastern European Member States will be entitled to receive in the form of fiscal transfers.