IEP Lunch Debate with H.E. Dr. József Czukor: “Priorities and Objectives of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union”
Ambassador Czukor described the first half of the year 2011 as a time of implementation, following a number of important political decisions, aiming i.e. at the stabilization of the European economy, made in the last months of 2010.
The programme of the Hungarian presidency is based on four pillars: The first pillar tackles economic growth, the creation of jobs and social inclusion while the second pillar promotes a stronger Europe. A Union close and friendly to its citizens as well as responsible enlargement and global commitment complete the programme.
Consolidation of the European economy as well as the euro area have the highest priority to Hungary, Czukor stressed. Six Commission proposals focusing on the creation of a permanent crisis mechanism and a macroeconomic surveillance instrument as well as on stronger fiscal discipline shall be adopted until July 2011 thus leading to an improved economic and political co-ordination of EU Member States. In the framework of the European Platform Against Pov-erty, special attention will be paid to the development of a European strategy on Roma. An-other focus will lie on demographic trends and family policy.
The implementation of the Single Market Act and a better promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises play an important role an this agenda, too.
When talking about the second pillar of the programme, Czukor emphasized the strong devel-opment of Community Policies, namely the Common Agricultural Policy and a European Energy Policy. For the latter, the problems of energy security, efficiency and infrastructure will be discussed under Hungarian Presidency, especially at the first EU Energy Summit on 4 February 2011.
Main points on the agenda for a Europe for the citizens will be the implementation of the Stockholm Programme, the first evaluation of the implementation of the Charter of Funda-mental Rights and a promotion of the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area. Furthermore, cultural diversity shall be promoted as an essential value of the European Community.
Hungary wants to push forward the enlargement process for all candidate countries, meaning in the case of Croatia a closure of accession negotiations. Special attention will be paid to the Eastern Partnership, with the second Eastern Partnership summit in Budapest in May 2011. Concerning the external affairs policy, Czukor described the new function of the Presidency according to the Lisbon Treaty as one of a substitute waiting on the sideline to support the European External Action Service if necessary.
During the following discussion, Czukor responded to questions on various topics, e.g. minor-ity rights, Eastern Partnership, energy infrastructure and cultural policy. He also explained the new role of the Presidency of the Council under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, shifting the focus from external affairs to other policy fields. Finally, Czukor addressed the recent debate on the new Hungarian media law, explaining his understanding of the legislative text.