The priorities for Hungary during its six-month stint in the European Union presidency chair will be mending Europe’s crisis-hit economy, creating a more joined-up energy policy, promoting enlargement, and securing a modest change to the treaty.
Picking up the presidency baton last week, Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, provided a checklist to measure the effectiveness of the Hungarian presidency.
He declared on 6 January that agreeing new legislation to deal with any future financial crisis was the most important issue, noting that “protecting the euro also means strengthening the European Union”.
During the Hungarian presidency he wants the EU to agree on a law to put in place a new crisis mechanism, which would require “a rapid and limited amendment to the treaty”. EU governments need to take further steps to co-ordinate their economies, he said.
This means launching the “European semester”, a period of peer review by member states of each other’s fiscal and economic policies.
In February, Hungary also hopes for agreements on new energy infrastructure to help ease the flow of gas across borders (see left).
Setting out his aspirations, the prime minister said that Hungary would be 100% successful if legislation on the crisis mechanism was in place, the European semester was started, national governments had submitted ‘Europe 2020’ action plans, there was a decision on missing European energy interconnectors, a European strategy on the Roma had been published, and negotiations were concluded with Croatia on allowing it to join the EU.
Orbán also promised to fight for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area of border-free travel, following recent doubts expressed by France and Germany over whether the two countries were ready.
Although the Hungarians are not expecting formal agreement on extending the Schengen area, they would like “a fixed and clear framework [that] it can be done”, said János Martonyi, the Hungarian foreign minister.
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