Representatives of the V4 Parliaments’ Economics Committees convened in Budapest on 7-8th February 2018. Erik Bánki, the Chairman of the Economics Committee of the Hungarian National Assembly hosted Pavel Štohl, the Vice-Chairman of the Committee on National Economy, Agriculture and Transport of the Senate of the Czech Republic, Martin Kolovratník, the Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic, Jerzy Meysztowicz, the Chairman of the Economy and Development Committee of the Polish Sejm, Andrzej Stanislawek, the Chairman of the Committee on National Economy and Innovativeness of the Polish Senate and Maros Kondrót, the Vice-Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Slovak National Council.
The agenda of the meeting included issues related to the targeted revision of the postings directive, the preparation for the next European Union budgetary and cohesion policy period, as well as related economic policy and economic development plans. The position of the Hungarian government for the first agenda item was introduced by Péter Cseresnyés, State Secretary for Labour Market and Training at the Ministry for National Economy, while the details about the negotiations related to the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) were shared by Szabolcs Takács, State Secretary for EU Affairs at the Prime Minister's Office of Hungary. After outlining the priorities of the Hungarian V4 Presidency in his opening remarks, Erik Bánki highlighted the importance of the single market and the competitiveness of the European Union. He noted: the Visegrád countries are interested in an economically stable European Union and that the competitiveness of the European Union needs to be improved in order to create sustainable economic growth. He also pointed out the importance of an investment environment that is conducive to the creation of jobs and to ensuring and equal access to digital technologies and qualified workforce. He highlighted that Hungary was opposed to the proposed revision of the postings directive, because it was an unwarranted and disproportionate restriction on the freedom to provide services and the competitiveness of our region in the European Union. He added that the application of the postings directive in the transportation sector was the most sensitive issue. Péter Cseresnyés explained that old and new member states have not been able to come to an acceptable compromise on the issue of posted workers. There have been some partial successes with respect to the introduction of a 4-year transitional period before the application of the revised directive. The revision of the postings directive means that there will be new rules for the maximum duration of posting and also for remuneration. With respect to the issue of MFF, Erik Bánki called the attention to the challenges and crises, that the Union has to tackle. Among others he alluded to the fact that new challenges need to be tackled at a time when one of the net contributing member states, the United Kingdom was exiting the Union. At the same time – he warned – it was important to ensure that the financial needs of the new challenges are not fulfilled to the detriment of the traditional policies. Participants of the meeting noted with satisfaction that the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union considers it a priority to preserve the role of the Cohesion Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy. They agreed that policy objectives should be first defined during the planning of the post-2020 MFF, and only after this can the allocation of the necessary funds happen. It was stated that the resource gap created by Brexit needs to be managed, hence the discussions between Member States on sharing the extra burden. Szabolcs Takács emphasized that V4 countries have reached common ground about the main issues of the 2020-2027 budgetary cycle and will represent this jointly at EU fora. He underlined: Hungary firmly rejects the idea of a political conditionality of EU funds, the coupling of Cohesion Policy with compliance with the fundamental principles of the rule of law as well as the linking of EU funds to the mandatory distribution of migrants between the Member States.
As a final act of their constructive talks, the heads of the delegations of V4 Parliaments’ Economics Committees signed a closing statement, which will serve as the basis for the Conclusions to be adopted by the meeting of the Speakers of Parliaments of the V4 countries envisaged for March 2018. At the end of their meeting the heads of delegations met with the representatives of the press.