Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on February 16 announced a new climate action plan and spoke about future challenges in his annual state-of-the-nation speech.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual state-of-the-nation speech in Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 16, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
"The government has adopted a climate action plan this
week. On July 1, illegal landfills will be eradicated and polluters will be
punished. Disposable plastics are banned, allowing metal and glass bottles to
be reused. We will protect the Danube and the Tisza rivers from
pollution," Orban said.
Under the climate action plan, 10 trees
will be planted for every newborn in Hungary and by 2030 the proportion of the
country's forest area will be increased to 27 percent.
Under the plan, the Hungarian government
will support the production and purchase of cheap electric vehicles and by 2022
new buses in public transport will all be electric.
Orban said his government would expect
multinational companies to adopt environmentally friendly solutions. The
government will support the transition of small- and medium-sized businesses to
go green with HUF32 billion (US$103 million) over the next two years.
Orban also spoke about his concerns for
the future: "In the years ahead, we have cause for concern. I see the
coming of dangerous years, even in 2020 -- climate crisis, demographic decline
and sinister shadows threatening the European economy."
"The European economy and the
eurozone have come to a standstill, and as 85 percent of Hungarian goods go to
the EU, their problem is also ours," Orban warned.
Internationally, he said:
"Competition will never cease to exist in the world, but Europe seems to
want to stay out of it, to restrict competition within the (European) Union in
terms of taxation, employment and services."
"If we do not want Europe to be pushed off
the track, competition between Member States must be established so that they
can compete with each other," he added.
A recent comment by Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra - "We are driving through the mist and we don’t know what the next phase looks like” - might cause confusion but it accurately reflects the reality of economies in the Eurozone. Recognising the imminent risk, the only monetary union in the world has yet to agree on measures to respond to the "economic shock” caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) to help launch a stimulus package in the trillions of dollars to keep businesses, workers and households afloat in face of the coronavirus. By the end of this year, the cost of this pandemic is likely to be measured in the trillions of dollars, Guterres told G20 leaders in a letter dated March 23.
With surging confirmed COVID-19 cases, European nations adopted a raft of further measures on Sunday (March 22) to peg back the contagion, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has put herself in quarantine after a doctor she met Friday tested positive.
Over 100,000 people across Europe had tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Thursday (March 19) evening, prompting European governments to unleash more anti-virus measures.
Numbers for both new deaths and new cures from Italy's coronavirus outbreak released Wednesday (March 18) are the highest on record, as health officials scramble to find enough doctors to confront the outbreak's spread.
The World Bank has earmarked a US$100-million fast-track loan to help the Philippines fight COVID-19, the Philippine Department of Finance said. The Philippines now has 193 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 14 deaths. Four patients have recovered from the viral disease.