Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is scheduled to meet European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on Tuesday, a Commission spokesman said last Friday.
"Arrangements have been made for a meeting between President Barroso and Prime Minister Orbán on Tuesday," EC spokesman Alejandro Ulzurrun de Asanza y Munoz told the usual daily press conference. "The purpose of this meeting is to have a formal exchange of views on issues which are currently open between Hungary and the EC. At this stage I have no further details on the content of this meeting," he added. The meeting should start at 11:30 CET on Tuesday.
There is still no official date as to when the College (European Commissioners) will publish their opinion on the responses Budapest sent on EU concerns expressed in the infringement proceedings.
Local business daily Világgazdaság reported last Friday that next week the EU executive will address the infringement proceedings it launched against Hungary and is expected to bring an important decision in this matter. The spokesman could not confirm this yet.
Orbán is to hold a presentation in Brussels on Monday and he was expected to meet Barroso then.
According to leaked information, they will discuss not only the infringement proceedings but also Hungary’s Convergence Programme and the latest tax ideas of the cabinet that should be included, such as the financial transaction tax and apparently the telephone/Internet tax as well.
Neither the Economy Ministry, nor Hungary’s telecom companies are willing to comment on a report by local news portal origo.hu about the new levy that would be slapped every telephone call (fixed-line or mobile) and Internet usage. While it is not known at this point what rate the tax will have and whether it will be based on data traffic or duration, the ministry expects HUF 40-50 bn revenues from it, origo said. The ministry told local newswire MTI that it "does not comment speculation in the press", which is obviously not true; it has happened several times in the past. Magyar Telekom, Vodafone, Telenor and Invitel gave the same answer to inquiries.
"There will be a very important meeting on Tuesday between the Commission President Barroso and the Hungarian Prime Minister," Foreign Minister János Martonyi said in a televised interview.
"We expect ... as this is what we are hearing from the Commission, that the decision about this, that the start of the talks with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund will be made by the end of April," he told pro-government TV channel HírTv.
Investors have become increasingly worried as a legal dispute has delayed the talks for months, maintaining the risk of a sell-off in Hungarian markets if the euro zone debt crisis deepens.
Hungary is the most vulnerable to risk aversion among the European Union's emerging market countries due to its debt relative to economic output, which is the highest in central Europe at around 80 percent, and its unorthodox economic policies.
Hopes for a deal on a financial backstop with the IMF and EU have propped up markets since sharp falls in January, after rating agencies downgraded Hungary's debt to "junk" status.
Foreigners' forint-denominated government bond holdings are near a record 4.24 trillion forints, but only high yields approaching 9 percent keep the market stable.
Most analysts in a Reuters poll on Thursday said that an agreement was only likely in the second half of 2012, and possibly only around the end of the year.
Hungary has not yet resolved all differences with the EU over the central bank law which also was criticized by the European Central Bank.
Source: Portfolio.hu, Reuters.com
Last Updated on Sunday, 22 April 2012 21:19