Barnier under pressure to strike Brexit deal as EU27 finally realise UK market IS valuable

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Speaking to the Sunday Express, the Hungarian ambassador to the UK Dr Ferenc Kumin made it clear that his country also wants the EU to push for a security and immigration control deal with Britain as a priority. Previously, the EU strategy has been to play down its need for a trade deal claiming that Britain will be hurt more by a no deal outcome. The position was summed up last week by French President Emmanuel Macron who claimed that the UK had “much more to lose” from failing to secure a trade deal.

But Dr Kumin’s comments show that capitals in Europe are beginning to fear the consequences of a no deal on their economies already hit badly by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “We all have a lot to lose on both sides. It’s also the interest of the EU, sometimes it feels like we forget this, to have an agreement.”

He highlighted the impact on car makers who produce around 400,000 vehicles a year in Hungary for big producers including Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Audi, BMW, Skoda, SEAT, Volkswagen, Fiat, Ford, Chevrolet, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault and Opel, many of which end up in the British market.

He said: “We are the producers of many, many automotive products, cars, premium cars which are well considered here in the UK market. We do not want to have any hit to this industry because that will hit immediately the Hungarian economy as a whole. 

“This is just one example but we want to keep the flow of those goods to the UK market.”

With Michel Barnier back in the UK and talks ongoing this weekend, Dr Kumin said he remained optimistic that a deal can still be reached but noted that member states have little influence on the outcome now.

He said: “Of course we see the difficulties. When it comes to fishery, it’s not something that Hungary can directly comment but we try to understand the positions of both sides. We just hope that there is enough wisdom on both sides of the negotiation table to eventually find a solution.”

Dr Kumin also made it clear that Hungary and the Visegrad 4 Eastern European countries including Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia want to see a security deal which continues cooperation on tackling illegal migration.

The hungarian ambassador has been in talks with senior Tory MPs including former security minister Sir John Hayes, chairman of the powerful Common Sense group which is pushing for tougher measures to tackle illegal migration.

Dr Kumin has had to postpone a tour of the facilities used to tackle the illegal crossings from France over the Channel but pointed out that the problem often starts on the border of his own country.

He said: “We look to the UK as an indispensable international security and defence partner for Hungary and the whole of Europe, including in the strict control of migration flows which so often act as a proxy for insidious criminal activity and trafficking.  

“We are confident that this dialogue bilaterally will be as strong or stronger as the UK leaves the EU.  We are in many ways the front line ourselves in this, and value hugely the policy and intelligence of this country.”

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He also warned that with the UK out of the EU, divisions over illegal migration was fuelling organised crime.

“We see a division in European politics, roughly by left and right. The problem is that if you are in any sense supportive or present a kind of invitation to the illegal migration then you feed the human traffickers. We see the emergence of human trafficking as the  most important branch of organised crime. At least in our region.”

He said that Britain should not be in a situation where people coming from France were claiming asylum and he claimed that some charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) may be working with human traffickers to help illegal migrants come in.

The European Court of Justice has also forced Hungary to drop its “transition areas” for holding illegal migrants which were a key measure in protecting the Schengen area in Europe.

He also noted that it is a major security issue with terrorists coming in on the illegal crossings.

“The security issue has always been around. Take for instance the fact that when the Paris bombing took place, we could identify that two of the perpetrators of that terrorist attack came illegally across Hungary. 

“It has always been a reason why the Hungarian government has said take a look at the security. This is a basic function of the state.”

Dr Kumin added: “Human trafficking is a huge, huge industry. No country should support organised crime in any form.”

Sir John said: “We had a meeting with the new ambassador and we hope to organise another one. He is right that there are important issues such as tackling illegal immigration that we should work closely together on.

“Freedom of movement has caused all sorts of problems for a lot of countries.

“I can completely understand why Hungary and other countries want to secure their borders.

“We need a points based capped immigration system to secure borders for all advanced economies.”

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