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Friends of Cohesion group opposed to EU budget proposal

Hungary has called for a revision of the outgoing European Commission’s budget proposal, describing it as “unfair”.

According to Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, in order to make the budget just and fair, some things must change.

Speaking at a summit of the Friends of Cohesion group in Prague, Mr Orbán said that the EU’s system of rebates must be eliminated.

The Hungarian PM claims that recalculating the amounts each member state pays into the EU budget in relation to its own GDP by also taking into consideration the rebates they receive is completely unfair. Mr Orbán also feels that it is necessary to take account of the fact that a large percentage of the funds received by Central European countries as grants goes back to western member states.

“The poorer a country is, the more money would be taken away from them, while the richer a country is, the less,” said Mr Orbán.

The Friends of Cohesion group jointly declared that the Cohesion Policy represents a key EU investment tool which is important to tackle new challenges, including climate change, industrial transition and demographic challenges. It is therefore vital to safeguard the funding for the Cohesion Policy at the level of the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) in real terms. The significant budget reductions included in the MFF 2021-2027 proposal risk to hinder achieving its objectives.

“Despite this, we are optimistic,” Mr Orbán continued. “Because, luckily for the V4, there are two former finance ministers among the Visegrád prime ministers.”

The Friends of Cohesion group comprises the V4 countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) as well as Estonia, Croatia, Malta, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Italy, Portugal and Greece.