Some companies, which financially support the EU Presidency, also pay solidarity tax, the Minister for Foreign Affairs pointed out yesterday at a short but ceremonial and convivial reception where he thanked the sacrifice companies had made. Indeed, apparently the crisis tax has not deterred companies which seriously think that the Presidency is the whole country’s issue. It was nice to see in the Museum of Ethnography yesterday how numerous they are. They deserve respect. Their generous contributions also play part in the success the Presidency have reached so far.
With two months of the Presidency’s term behind us, perhaps we can afford making a brief review of the results of the “Hungarian term”. Because from now on, the Presidency’s work does not only have a present or a future. Let’s see a non-exclusive, short list of the Hungarian Presidency’s achievements:
Up to this point, the Presidency’s actions related to the Libyan crisis have been very successful. And there is more to it than the Czech Republic expressing thanks to Hungary for evacuating their citizens. (By the way, ten other Member States’ citizens were also on the Malév plane which, despite all difficulties, successfully evacuated the Hungarians trapped in Libya). It is also about the general appreciation of the Hungarian Presidency received from Member States for coordinating the on-site events in Libya, and for quickly activating the EU’s Community Mechanism for Citizen Protection, as well as for the fact that the Hungarian Embassy is still open in Tripoli.
The regulation of the European citizens’ initiative was signed, making it possible for EU citizens to initiate the preparation or amendment of any EU legislation, once one million signatures are collected.
It may be less spectacular than the previous ones but not least important from the perspective of the entire EU, that the tight deadlines of the European Semester, which aims to establish closer co-operation between member state budgets, have been successfully met in the first two months.
The development of the six draft legislations aimed to strengthen economic governance has made good progress, and there is every hope that the Council will reach an agreement in March.
The Presidency successfully facilitated Member States to reach an agreement in the orientation debate on the cohesion policy’s future after 2014, which fundamentally determines the medium and long term outlook of this key community policy.
During the Hungarian Presidency’s term, there was a breakthrough in creating a common energy policy: after 2014, the common European energy market will be created. The Presidency played a major role in the preparations of the European Council meeting in February where this decision was made.
Visa waiver agreement with Brazil.
Reinforced cooperation among 25 Member States for creating a European patent.
Political agreement on the regulation of the marketing and utilisation of biocide products
The regulation on extending bus passengers’ rights was signed
The fact that every candidate country was invited to all informal meetings in Hungary demonstrated our commitment towards EU enlargement, and was warmly welcomed.
The list is much longer than this, but this time it remains subjective and incomplete. Nevertheless, it is evident that the first two months were not at all bad. This does not mean, however, that we can sit back and relax. The most challenging part is yet to come. But the success of the first two months encourages us to keep on working.
I had been following the developments of the European Union as a journalist over the past 16 years, but since the summer of 2010, I lead the Hungarian Foreign Ministry’s EU Presidency Communication Department. Some will say I betrayed my profession. But the way I see it, there are exceptional situations when you just got to descend from the grand stands and join the game. The Hungarian EU Presidency is such a period for me. It is an honour for me to be able to help the work of the Presidency, but I cannot break lose completely from my beloved profession. I will be writing this blog partly for this very reason.
Like the hero of novel by Hungarian humorist Frigyes Karinthy, who dreamed of being simultaneously two cats that were playing with each other.