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PM Cameron’s visit to Hungary

January 9th, 2016

Commenting on the meeting of the two prime ministers, a left-wing columnist cautions against hoping that the UK and Hungary are becoming strategic allies in reforming the EU. A conservative commentator dares to believe that Hungary can become an important player in revamping the Union.

After meeting British Prime Minister David Cameron in Budapest on Thursday, Prime Minister Orbán said Hungary supports Mr Cameron’s proposals to strengthen national sovereignty rather than further centralization within the EU. Concerning British proposals to restrict the social rights of citizens from Eastern Europe in Britain, including making welfare benefits conditional on four years of employment, Mr Orbán said that Hungary and the other three Visegrad countries (Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) are open to a deal to prevent the misuse of social benefits, but cannot accept discrimination against their citizens. Hungarians who work in the UK are not ‘migrants’, and they pay more social benefits that they receive, thus they should not be considered as ’parasites’, Mr Orbán said. 

Despite the two prime ministers’ consensus on reversing EU integration, the UK and Hungary have diverging interests, Róbert Friss comments in Népszava. The left-wing commentator thinks that the coalition of the UK and the Visegrád countries can at best be a temporary one. David Cameron is a pragmatic politician who will leave Hungary and other V4 countries to their own devices as soon as his interests so require, Friss contends. Once the UK brokers a deal with the EU, PM Cameron will not bother too much with V4 qualms about welfare discrimination, Friss suspects. He concludes that the crisis of the EU should be resolved by further integration rather than a return to national sovereignty.

PM Cameron’s visit shows that PM Orbán is not a bête noire in the EU, Levente Sitkei writes in Magyar Idők. The pro-government columnist thinks that Hungary and the UK have a joint stake in reforming the EU in order to overcome its current paralysis – illustrated by its controversial and confusing policies in the face of the migration crisis. Sitkei suggests that despite its diminutive size, Hungary can become an important actor in revamping the EU if it becomes a member of powerful coalitions. Thus, efforts by the UK and Hungary to strengthen national sovereignty are not aimed at the destruction of the EU, but rather at its rescue, Sitkei concludes.

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