Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will meet in London next week with British Prime Minister Theresa May, reports MTI. The meeting between May and Orbán comes amid concern in a number of EU governments that the UK is seeking to divide and conquer in Brexit negotiations.
May is seeking to introduce a work permit scheme for EU nationals, while also trying to establish trade deals with EU member states. The UK's exit from the bloc would include the country's exclusion from the European single-market, with potentially disastrous consequences for Britain's economy. A deal with Hungary could be a step toward developing a trading bloc in post-Brexit Europe.
Hungary already does a lot of business with the UK. Hungary's foreign minister Péter Szijjártó was in London two weeks ago to sign a memorandum on the establishment of the British-Hungarian Business Council. The councilʼs 10 founding members include Tesco, British Telecom, and BP. The 771 UK companies in Hungary employ some 49,000 people. Once the UK leaves the EU, it will be Hungary's largest non-EU trading partner, according to a senior Hungarian official.
Orbán was one of very few EU leaders to praise May at last month's EU summit. He is unlikely to oppose her plans to introduce limitations on EU citizens' rights to move to and work in Britain, as he would like to keep workers in Hungary. More than 5 percent of the population has left the country since joining the EU in 2004, and nearly twice the number of Hungarians are now living in the UK compared to just after the second Orbán government came to power (55,000 in 2011 to 96,000 in 2015.) Unofficial estimates put the number of Hungarians currently residing in the United Kingdom at well over 200,000.
Orbán's visit will fuel accusations from a number of EU and European officials that Britain is building an alliance with Hungary's right-wing leader in an attempt to divide and conquer the EU in Brexit negotiations,
, BuzzFeed News said.
The portal reminded Orbán is viewed as a controversial ally for Britain "because of his government's stance on refugees, an alleged crackdown on freedom of speech, and tensions with other governments and the EU over the balance of powers between Europe's institutions and its member states."
At the EU Council summit in Brussels last month, the Hungarian PM was one of the few leaders to praise May. "She's done excellently. ... She's clear-cut," he said.
Referring to what they perceive as Britain cosying up to Orbán, one senior EU official told BuzzFeed News last month: "Good company May is keeping."
Just last week, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi threatened to veto the EU budget if Hungary keeps refusing to take a fair share of refugees. The Hungarian government responded by saying it did not need Italy's charity.
János Lázár, the Minister heading the Prime Minister's Office, told journalists last Thursday the government takes the view that Hungary is taking its share of the management of the migrant crisis through the protection of its borders. He indicated at the same time that the management of immigrants and the fate of the cohesion funds cannot be connected together today.
Source: MTI, portfolio.hu; BuxxFeed News ; budapestbeacon.com
Last Updated on Friday, 04 November 2016 08:09