Hungary’s Orban urges end to EU deficit procedure

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In a snap visit to Brussels, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday urged EU officials to ease pressure on Budapest and recognize the country’s efforts to cut its excessive deficit.

Orban wants Hungary to be removed from the EU’s excessive deficit procedure, which Budapest is under since it joined the EU in 2004. The procedure forces countries to keep their deficits below 3% of GDP.

‘Hungary has been under the EDP since its accession in the EU. Hungarian authorities and Hungarian people did what they could to get out of this procedure. This requires the budgetary deficit to be below 3% of GDP. This was the case last year, this year and next year. I hope that, with appropriate proofs, Hungary can come out of the EDP this year. It is a very important moral issue for Hungary. Hungary wants to get back amongst the countries that are reliable’, said Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

In February last year, Brussels withheld almost 500 million euros in development funds for Hungary as the country failed to cut its deficit. While the Commission said that the sanctions came as an incentive for Budapest to amend the situation, many suspected it was a punishment linked to the state of democracy in the country.

European Commission’s president Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed Orban’s efforts to reduce the country’s deficit, but he also said that some of the measures taken need to be revisited.

‘I welcome the fiscal consolidation achieved so far and the commitment of the Hungarian government to continue its efforts to keep the deficit well below 3 % of GDP, and encouraged the Hungarian PM to pay closer attention to the quality of this adjustment. The Commission will come with an assessment of the recent measures in its economic forecast to be published on February 22nd’, said EC’s president  José Manuel Barroso.

Late in 2011, Orban asked the IMF for a rescue loan. But the talks were put on hold with none of the institutions committing to anything. Orban’s political party, Fidesz, came to power in 2010. The country has been surrounded by controversy since then.

Orban will visit Russia on Thursday for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

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