On 13 December President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to Budapest and took part at the V4+France Summit meeting. The leaders stressed the importance of dialogue just weeks before France takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU (from 1 January) and, accordingly, discusssed important European issues, including the future of Europe, climate and energy policy -and the importance of nuclear energy in particular-, migration, effective border protection and support for the Western Balkans.
V4 Prime Ministers held a coordination meeting ahead of the V4+France talks. The Hungarian Presidency issued a statement on the most important current matters discussed by the V4 leaders in Budapest, in preparation for the French EU Presidency, namely: climate and energy policy, security and defense, migration and the protection of external borders, competetiveness, resilience and inclusive growth and Common Agricultural Policy.
The four Prime Ministers also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening their cooperation in the field of space research and the peaceful use of outer space by e.g. regular consultations, mapping and sharing test facilities and examining the feasibility of launching joint space projects.
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Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán said at the press conference that the leaders thoroughly and openly discussed some important, current issues, like the question of the rule of law, the Western Balkans, energy, including nuclear energy and the future of the Energy Trading System (ETS). The Summit also provided a unique opportunity to discuss the key objectives of the French EU Presidency.
President of France, Emmanuel Macron mentioned energy as one of the key topics, stating that a more efficient energy policy is an important strategic goal, and that, in the long term, nuclear energy is needed alongside the renewables. Macron stressed that protection of external borders must be improved during the French Presidency, allowing migrants to be returned to their countries of origin if necessary. He also stated that "the rule of law is a very sensitive issue", and that it is vital for the EU, but rather than making spectacular, confrontational statements, he stressed the possibility of agreement, the "search for common ground" and the importance of dialogue.
Prime Minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger said that the EU is our common living space, therefore strengthening partnerships between member states is important, as we are still facing a pandemic crisis. Heger also agreed on the need to make nuclear energy a fundamental part of the EU's goals to reduce carbon emmissions. The Prime Minister stated that climate change is a major challenge that affects the whole world and carbon neutrality is an important objective that must not be compromised, but the safety of citizens must also be taken into account when deciding on the way forward.
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš also emphasized the importance of border protection, noting that in 2015 Hungary was the only one to start protecting the Schengen border, and after six years other countries are building fences as well across Europe. He welcomed the fact that others have now also accepted and adopted the Central European viewpoint on illegal migration. As outgoing Prime Minister, Mr Babiš and his V4 and French counterparts thanked each other for the good cooperation in the past years.
Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki on the situation on the Polish border stressed that Poland defends the eastern border of the EU and NATO and that "We must be able to defend our external borders. We must prevent people from being smuggled and used as human shields". He also spoke out against double standards, saying that the EU is made up of twenty-seven sovereign Member States with equal rights, and that no one should be discriminated because of its size or geographical location.