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The head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Gergely Gulyás, said it would be wrong to let the European parliamentary groups choose the next European Commission president, arguing that the spitzenkandidat system went against the Lisbon Treaty and EU law. He noted that Manfred Weber “has made clear that he does not want the support of the party that was given the biggest mandate by Hungarians” in the EP election. Gulyás said the EU needed leaders “who haven’t attacked any of the member states in recent years”. Gulyás said the V4 had not agreed on a joint candidate to support but there were several whom they would accept. In response to a question, he said Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, was one of the candidates the V4 would find acceptable. Gulyás said the V4 would also form a common stance on the EU’s climate strategy for the Brussels summit. He said the goals of the Paris climate accords could not be met without nuclear power.
Meanwhile, Gulyás said it was crucial that the EU open accession talks with the Western Balkan countries within the next five-year cycle. Several of those countries have “done a lot” to advance accession talks “but it looks like the EU is not ready to add new members”, he said.
As regards the case of former Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski, who has been granted asylum in Hungary, Gulyás said the Hungarian government had not entered into any contractual relationship with him. Gruevski receives the same amount of help as anyone else given refugee status, Gulyás said. The PM’s Office chief said he had no knowledge of any changes to Gruevski’s refugee status, adding that the decision on whether or not to extradite him will be made by the courts.
Concerning leaked footage of earlier talks concerning planned changes to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), Gulyás said the government and the academy had been in agreement that the academy would not be stripped of its research institutes, but the MTA’s head had “breached that agreement”, therefore the government had reworded its draft of the MTA law.
Answering another question about a Brussels-Budapest Wizz Air flight cancelled on Wednesday, Gulyás said that consumer protection proceedings would follow and the government would “propose imposing the highest fine possible”.