Following two days of discussions, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic and three other EU member states from South East Europe signed a joint declaration in Visegrád, Hungary, on cooperation within the field of environmental protection.

The document, signed by Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the Visegrád Four Group countries and Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, deals amongst others with the European Union's package of recommendations regarding the protection of air purity and GMO strategy.

Photo: Csaba Pelsőczy

At the press conference following the signing of the joint declaration, Hungarian Minister of Rural Development Sándor Fazekas stressed that the V4+3 environmental cooperation was both useful and successful, and would be continued. The countries developed their opinion jointly and will act together, he added.

Discretion is also required with regard to the EU's clean air policy package, because it would not be expedient if we were to lose employment or production capacity or find ourselves in a disadvantaged position with regard to competitiveness as a result, the Minister pointed out. It is possible that industrial and agricultural capacities might move to other countries if these regulations become stricter, Mr. Fazekas added.

He also mentioned that if methane emissions are restricted then it would only be possible to farm fewer animals than planned and animal husbandry, especially in the case of new member states, could find itself at a disadvantage.

With regard to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), those present at the meeting agreed that the issue must be kept within the national sphere of authority of individual member states, Mr. Fazekas said, and in the case of Hungary it is a primary national interest that the country should remain GMO-free.