Orban meets Macron ahead of Hungary's EU Presidency

Orban meets Macron ahead of Hungary's EU Presidency

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has met with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris ahead of Hungary's EU presidency, which begins on 1 July.

The pair's working lunch at the Elysee Palace covered key topics such as support for Ukraine and the European defence industry. The visit took place just before the European Council's appointments of new EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.

The meeting was seen as an opportunity for Macron and Orban to prepare for Hungary's upcoming presidency, during which Orban planned to promote the slogan: 'Let's make Europe Great Again.'

The visit was particularly politically significant, given Orban's recent criticism of Germany's migration policy.

Orban has also been critical of what he saw as political divisions within the EU, especially concerning so-called 'top job' allocations. He claims that some countries were being excluded due to party and political affiliations.

Orban - a harsh critic of von der Leyen

Recently, Orban has expressed his frustration, particularly targeting Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, describing her tenure as "the worst mandate in the history of Europe."

Despite Orban's criticism, von der Leyen is poised to be reappointed on Thursday for another five-year term.

Ukraine is a sticking point for Orban

Orban's discontent has been further fueled by the European Union's aid policy toward Ukraine - leading Budapest to block a substantial €6 billion military support package for Kiev for several months.

Orban's grievances extend to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whom he accuses of failing to adequately protect the Hungarian community living in Ukraine. Specifically, Orban opposes the mobilisation of Ukrainian Hungarians to the front lines. Additionally, he is against sharing European agricultural subsidies with Ukrainian farmers.

Why has he been called the 'Trump of Europe'?

Viktor Orban is also vocally discontented over issues such as the rule of law and immigration. As he takes the helm of the European Union for the next six months, his chosen slogan, "Make Europe Great Again," provocatively echoes former US President Donald Trump.

It is strongly assumed Budapest may take advantage of the presidency to get its specific political messages across.

Despite his critical stance, the Hungarian Prime Minister remains acutely aware of his nation's dependence on the European Union, particularly the €19 billion in subsidies currently withheld by Brussels - and the presence of German automobile factories within Hungary.

No planned meeting with Le Pen

Orban is an ally of the French's National Rally party of Marine Le Pen and Jordan Bardella. However, Le Pen was not scheduled to meet with Orban during his visit.

The two leaders won't have to wait too long to meet, though. They'll rendezvous at upcoming international events, notably the next summits of the European Political Community, which are scheduled to take place in the United Kingdom on 18 July and in Hungary on 7 November.

Additionally, they will address various aspects of the bilateral relationship between their nations.