- Title: BELGIUM: Prime Minister Viktor Orban says an EU treaty change is risky
- Date: 29th October 2010
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 29, 2010) (REUTERS) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN ENTERING NEWS BRIEFING CAMERAMAN SETTING UP CAMERA ORBAN ADDRESSING JOURNALISTS CAMERA CREWS (SOUNDBITE) (English) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN SAYING: "So we should not say to each other or even to the public that to launch any amendment of the treaty could be possible without having a strong and high risk. So it's risky. But I have never seen in my political career, which is anyway quite a long one, any success without taking a risk, which was brave and difficult and complicated issue. So without braveness, without having braveness in your heart, without able it to take a risk, no success. So my answer is that, but at the same time, I would like to urge all my colleagues to clarify exactly prior to launch the process how we will do that. Otherwise, you know, we open it but we will never be able to close it." JOURNALISTS LISTENING / JOURNALIST TAKING NOTES. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HUNGARIAN PRIME MINISTER VIKTOR ORBAN SAYING: "This is the pension reform question which definitely belongs to the central European countries which are not the biggest ones, which are not among the biggest ones in the European Union, so the general climate of this meeting was not at all that the smaller countries would be, or could be or should be neglected. So I think we have a comfortable feeling here." CAMERA CREWS FILMING ORBAN TALKING TO JOURNALISTS
- Embargoed: 13th November 2010 12:00
- Location: Belgium
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: International Relations,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4ZBL419GD6WIH90CTZA4RDH1G
- Story Text: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at the end of a European Union summit on Friday (October 29) that making changes to the treaty would mean taking a risk.
European leaders set in motion at the Brussels summit plans to amend the EU's main treaty to create a permanent system to ward off financial crises, and said that a summit deal on new budget rules would strengthen the euro.
It took more than eight years to negotiate and ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force last December, and most member states were reluctant to reopen it so soon.
"So we should not say to each other or even to the public that to launch any amendment of the treaty could be possible without having a strong and high risk," Orban told journalists.
Germany and France succeeded in overcoming initially fierce hostility to their calls for changes in the EU's Lisbon treaty only after many countries ruled out far-reaching amendments that would have forced them to hold public referendums which would have been likely to fail.
Orban stressed that procedures should be clear as to how the treaty would be changed before starting the process.
"I would like to urge all my colleagues to clarify exactly prior to launch the process how we will do that. Otherwise, you know, we open it but we will never be able to close it."
Hungary will hold the EU presidency for six months from Jan. 1, 2011, succeeding Belgium.
European Union leaders also agreed on Friday to take a closer look at demands from a clutch of states to be granted leeway on budget deficits to reflect costs associated with overhauling their pension systems.
Resolutions from an EU summit went some way to accommodating their demands, though the bloc avoided making firm commitments.
"The general climate of this meeting was not at all that the smaller countries would be, or could be or should be neglected. So I think we have a comfortable feeling here," Orban said.
Nine central and east European countries plus Sweden demanded in August to be allowed to write off the full cost of pension reform from their deficits and public debt, helping them avoid EU disciplinary action over fiscal slippage.
The countries have created or plan to set up private pension funds, to which the state-supported, pay-as-you-go pension systems contribute certain sums. As a result, national budget subsidies to the pension system needs to be higher.
The executive European Commission made a small concession to the demand in September, proposing that pension reformers enjoy a five-year grace period in which their budget gaps can exceed the EU ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product and/or their debt exceed the cap of 60 percent of GDP.
Poland, Slovakia and other countries believe the proposal is inadequate and want the grace period extended.
The summit agreed to continue the debate, but the leaders' statement was carefully hedged to avoid clear promises.
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