Orbán on von der Leyen: "It was a good decision to keep the ideological guerillas away"
President-elect of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the preparation of the upcoming Commission's work programme. The Commission gave no further details on the meeting, but they have mentioned that Ursula von der Leyen wishes to maintain a close relationship with the leaders of member states.
According to our Commission sources, von der Leyen and Orbán had a so-called "technical meeting." Upon his arrival, Orbán told the journalist of Politico that he hopes that "this European Commission will be different." The President-elect met Orbán in her office, but there was no press conference or press release following their talks, only a protocol photo appearing on Twitter:
Index's information suggests that Ursula von der Leyen laid out her plans and political agenda regarding the cooperation between the next Commission and the Hungarian government, followed by Viktor Orbán doing the same.
It must be noted that these sort of meetings usually do not conclude with an agreement or a decision - they serve only the purpose of the parties disclosing their positions. It's also worth knowing that while it's already decided that Ursula von der Leyen will be heading the European Commission from November, the commissioners' positions are still being shuffled around and the Commission's president-elect has limited powers for the time being - mostly pertaining to gathering information and preparing. But this could affect the portfolio that the Hungarian commissioner-candidate, former Minister of Justice László Trócsányi will get. The previous commissioner of Fidesz, Tibor Navracsics, had maybe the most inconsequential area in the past five years.
Ursula von der Leyen had met several leaders of member states. She had talks with the French president about climate goals, security, and digitalisation, and she sat down with the Spanish prime minister to negotiate about gender equality and the Social Europe program, and she also saw the heads of the Czech, Polish, and Croatian governments.
Mina Andreyeva, the spokesperson of the European Commission informed journalists at her usual afternoon press conference that this meeting can be regarded as preparation for assessing the work programme of the upcoming Commission, and that just like the currently presiding Jean-Claude Juncker, Ursula von der Leyen is in regular contact with heads of member states.
Viktor Orbán refused to talk to Hungarian journalists.
Update at 3:00 PM: Later on, he did end up giving a statement to Hungarian state news channel M1, reiterating what he said in his speech held on Saturday at the Tusványos festival:
"It was a good decision to keep the ideological guerillas away and choose leaders with pragmatic life instincts."
Orbán continued by characterising von der Leyen as "a politician whose thoughts about the future revolve around the same questions as ours." He said these include the future and safety of families and children, but he also mentioned the creation of a joint European army and the development of the defence industry as their common intentions.
"Ursula von der Leyen has a sensitive approach even to touchy subjects such as migration, and she has the ability to think with the head of Eastern Europeans about that," he added according to state newswire MTI. "We will see what happens after this," but there is a higher chance of reaching reasonable solutions than with any candidate that came up before her, Orbán concluded.
Update at 5:10 PM: The President-elect reacted to her meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister on Twitter:
Good talk with PM #Orban about my political guidelines. Agreed on need for fresh start & pragmatic solutions on #migration. Also discussed🇪🇺competitiveness + need to bring EU institutions closer to member states. #ruleoflaw is crucial, applies to all. Strong #defenseunion needed.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) August 1, 2019
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