The enlargement of the European Union must happen, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the 11th conference of the speakers of south-eastern European countries in Parliament on Friday. Newly integrated European Union member states have always been the ones to bring dynamics, growth, energy and strength to the bloc, he said. “Europe is contemplating the Western Balkans at a difficult time,” Orbán said. “The EU itself cannot decide what it should think of the south-east of Europe; whether it’s an unpleasant task, difficulty, a problem or an opportunity,” he added. “We who joined later have always seen enlargement as an opportunity,” he said. Although some think the EU’s problems were rooted in the integration of post-Soviet states, recent additions to the bloc were the ones to bring dynamics, growth, energy and strength to the economy, he said.
The EU does not need an internal reform to integrate “at least the most prepared south-eastern European countries”, Orbán said and voiced support for a proposal by the European Commission to provide the benefits EU members enjoy to candidates even before they receive full membership. Orbán also supported that the EU should provide aid to those countries between 2024-2027 to boost economic growth. He added that Hungary was ready to contribute extra to the EU budget to that end.