Meeting of the European Affairs Committees of V4 countries, held in Prague, 5-7 September 2021

Delegations of the Committees on European Affairs of V4 countries met in Prague between 5-7 September 2021. The meeting was organised by the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. The delegation from the Committee on European Affairs of the Hungarian National Assembly at the event, which had the Covid situation and the restoration after pandemic, furthermore the "Fit for 55” proposal package on its agenda, included Dr. Richárd Hörcsik, chairman, Zoltán Balczó, Deputy Chairman, and dr. Attila Tilki, Member of the Committee. The meeting was chaired by Ondřej Benešík, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic.

During the discussion of the agenda item focussing on the Covid situation and the restoration after pandemic, Karolína Kottová, Deputy Head of the Permanent Representation of the European Commission in the Czech Republic delivered a keynote speech that touched upon four areas: the impact of the pandemic on health systems, the crisis management, the measures taken to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and the EU’s global role in the fight against Covid. In his contribution, Richárd Hörcsik emphasised the importance of co-operation and mutual assistance among Visegrád countries during the pandemic. Concerning the pandemic’s impact on the economy, he reported that in the period between April and June 2021, GDP growth in Hungary reached 17.9%, which he described as giving cause for optimism. In addition, approaching the 4th wave of the pandemic, he recalled the importance of protecting lives and preserving jobs. Attila Tilki drew attention to the need to monitor the situation in the countries bordering the Visegrád states in order to protect V4 countries. He mentioned that Hungary offered vaccination opportunities in the Subcarpathian region, and not only for ethnic Hungarians. All Heads of Delegation briefed participants on the vaccination situation in their respective countries, and several participants urged the introduction of incentives for accelerating the vaccination process.

The "Fit for 55" proposal package presented by the European Commission on 14 July 2021, which aims to support the fulfilment of the EU's 2030 climate policy goals, was presented by Radek Špicar, Vice-President of the Confederation of the Industry of the Czech Republic. He pointed out that the expected impact of the package was different not only within individual EU countries, but also, for example, at the level of Visegrád countries. He explained that the fight against climate change could only be won if entities issuing the highest levels of emissions from outside the EU also joined. He predicted protracted debates concerning decision-making by the EU, realistically expecting a resolution next year, at the very earliest. Zoltán Balczó acknowledged the EU's leading role regarding the EU’s proposal, but at the same time considered the proposal to install extremely high-capacity, 350 kW chargers for heavy trucks all along the trans-European transport network in the coming years to be particularly exaggerated. He emphasised in particular that compliance with 2050 targets was also mandatory for Member States that had increased their CO2 emissions since 1990. Agreeing with the global challenges of climate policy, he pointed out the need for EU-level climate diplomacy and more intense action. Dr. Richard Hörcsik emphasised the need for balanced EU regulation that respects the energy mix of all member states.

At the end of the meeting, the participants adopted Conclusions, and the proposed amendments submitted by the National Assembly regarding climate policy were approved. The next commission meeting will be hosted by the National Council of Slovakia in the first half of 2022.