Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The role of the Hungarian Presidency in the success of Europe 2020 strategy
Mr Prime Minister, the Hungarian government stated that for the European Union, 2011 would be the year of action. What lessons have the EU learned from the crisis and what direction does the Hungarian Presidency of the Council want to give to the concerted action of the member states? Europe stands before its most difficult year in the era since the fall of Communism. This represents serious challenges. However, the Hungarians are a tried and tested people that could master many crises, so I can confirm that it is good news for Europe to have a Hungarian Presidency in this period. In the course of preparation for the Presidency, I conducted an extensive consultation process throughout Europe: I met all fellow prime ministers, but I also had talks with the leaders of countries participating in the Eastern Partnership and with several heads of government of the Balkan region. My experience was that everybody was interested in a strong Europe because it is a source of support and resources for all nations. In this spirit, we will do everything we can to make sure that the community and the "Europe 2020" strategy become successful. Let me call your attention to two particular issues: the formulation of a joint, overall European strategy for the Roma people should be achieved during the Hungarian Presidency; however, we should also provide a European perspective to the countries of the West Balkans in order to stabilise the region. How does the Presidency see the enhanced European economic cooperation and what new instruments do you consider necessary? A transformation of incredible speed and depth is happening throughout the world; Europe must be able to stand in a much stronger global competition than ever before. During the Hungarian Presidency we should point out again that Europe is the birthplace of market economy, and it is able to turn towards new, innovative solutions. People have become insecure as regards Europe’s and their own future. They have a good sense of the risks, but they cannot see a way out. They expect solutions primarily for kick-starting economic growth, the creation of new jobs and the retention of existing ones. Therefore, the whole of Europe will need some serious renewal in the coming period. What do you expect from the preparatory discussions about the review of the Common Agricultural Policy and the cohesion policy and the creation of common energy policy? The future of the Common Agricultural Policy is of particular importance for Europe. No competitiveness of the European Union is feasible without agricultural production that is in line with European traditions and is properly functional. Therefore, it is particularly important that we facilitate the consensus of member states on keeping the Common Agricultural Policy and the directions of its further development. An important matter for our Presidency is that the Union should be able to overcome the crisis of the euro. However, it is also an issue related to the differences in development between each member state of the Union. This very sharply draws attention to the fact that Europe needs to strengthen its cohesion policy. As far as energy policy is concerned: we cannot regard the Union as a strong global player unless it recognises that its eastern part suffers from energy dependency. We must do everything we can to reduce this energy dependency; which means that we must diversify the sources and transport routes of fuel. What added value could the Hungarian Presidency bring to the Union´s policy towards its Eastern neighbours? If the European Union wants to be successful in the global arena, then it must be successful back at home as well. This is why the success of the Eastern Partnership represents a substantial resource which can strengthen our community significantly. The Hungarian EU Presidency in the first half of next year considers the promotion of the Eastern Partnership to be one of its most important objectives in foreign policy; we will even organise an Eastern Partnership Summit in Budapest next May. We think that speeding up and closing the accession talks with Croatia is of strategic importance; while we must leave the European perspective open for Serbia as well. We will also use every effort to support the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Zone. Your Presidency is the last of the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian trio. How do you assess the coordination and cooperation with the Spaniards and the Belgians? János Martonyi, the foreign minister of my government recently had bilateral meetings in Brussels with his Spanish and Belgian colleagues, and he agreed to cooperate very closely with both of them during the time of the Hungarian Presidency as well. We are also in continuous consultation with our Polish friends; and practically we constitute a duo because they will follow us as the President of the Council of the European Union. How will the Hungarian Presidency communicate its activities to EU citizens? Just like before the Presidency, I will visit all the twenty-six member states during the six months of the Presidency again. I will meet fellow prime ministers, and I will speak everywhere in support of the concept of a strong Europe; and I will try to use my own resources as well, to bring the concept of Europe closer to European citizens. I will try to reduce the divide that is so painfully wide between the European spirit and European citizens.
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