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Manfred Weber and Frans Timmermans, the lead candidates of the European People’s Party and the European Socialists, “have failed” in their bids to become the next European Commission president, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday, adding that this was “good news” for Hungary because the Hungarian people did not want to see either of them in charge.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels about the first day of the ongoing European Union summit, Orbán said: “We’ve taken important steps forward.”

The prime minister noted that his Fidesz party had won last month’s European Parliament election with 53 percent of the vote. “This is unparalleled: hardly anyone in Europe has this [level of support],” he said.

Photo by Balázs Szecsődi/PM’s Press Office

Orbán noted that he had pledged to use the mandate given to his party to prevent the EU from choosing leaders who support immigration. He noted that he had also vowed to make sure that the EU would not have a leader who “doesn’t respect Hungary or the central European countries”.

Orbán said he had been successful in keeping these promises because “the Spitzenkandidaten, Mr. Weber and Mr. Timmermans, have fallen.”

They didn’t meet either of the criteria, so their departure is good news for Hungary”

Asked about the possibility that the Visegrad (V4) countries may field an important EU post, Orbán said they stood “a good chance”.

Central Europe: Growing Political Weight?

For every EU position, the V4 has more than two or three candidates,”

Orbán said, adding the V4 would punch with its weight in negotiations.

He said V4 has proposals with “specific names” that would be good for Hungary and central Europe as a whole. He added that names “must be handled with care” since the chances of prospective candidates could be compromised by revealing them publicly.

Mid-week, V4 leaders will meet to “make the final negotiations”, Orbán said. On Sunday evening, the V4 will then make proposals in the interests of central Europe. “We have good candidates; I think they will run.”

Meanwhile, Orbán said Hungary was committed to addressing climate change alongside other countries. “We could [in principle] do this by 2030,” he said, adding that plans to realise climate goals without raising household utility bills existed. In principle, the money was also available, he said, adding that the two aims could be reconciled. But in order to commit to the 2050 target, there would have to be signs of the money being made available. “So let’s start talking about money,” he said.

LMP Accuses Orbán of Hampering Implementation of EU Climate Goals

“If the money is there and if the EU opens up its resources for this, we can upgrade Hungary’s energy network so that families will not have to pay more. We’re open to negotiation,” he said.

Orbán noted a debate on nuclear energy was taking place. The Hungarian position, he said, was clear: “If we want to reach our climate targets, we need nuclear power.” He added that one or two countries were arguing about this but they were in a minority.

Construction of Paks Upgrade Site Buildings Starts

The prime minister said every country had the right to decide on its nuclear power needs. Referring to Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant, he said: “‘Without Paks, there are no low energy bills.”

He said the aim of regulation was to make people better off, not the other way round.

Featured photo by Balázs Szecsődi/PM’s Press Office