“We’re at the start of the debate, and the stands are still far apart,” Orbán said. He said European economic policy had been “ruined” in Brussels in recent years, the results of which will soon become apparent. He predicted that growth in the eurozone would stall this year and cautioned that bad economic policy could have an impact outside of the eurozone, such as in central Europe, too. Orbán said that, unlike Hungary, most member states didn’t cut taxes and didn’t support competition, but introduced protectionist measures that did economic damage. Europe’s competitiveness has “declined on a global scale, and that comes with a price”, he added. Member states must agree that regaining competitiveness is of primary importance, and that requires a budget that ensures member states the greatest possible degree of flexibility, he added. The Friends of Cohesion group is a forum of EU member states from the east and the south that aims to prevent a reduction in the EU’s cohesion funds that support the convergence of Europe’s poorer regions.