The work of the Hungarian Presidency has created an appropriate basis for starting a meaningful negotiation, in the second half of 2011, on the multi-annual financial framework of the European Union, said Minister of State for EU Affairs Enikő Győri, in a conference in Prague, on 6 May 2011.
The aim of the Hungarian Presidency was to conduct orientation debates on the future of the main sectorial policies without prejudice, to the financial aspects as well as to the outcome of the negotiations, Enikő Győri reminded the participants of the conference, held in Prague on the future of the multi-annual financial framework of the EU.
The Minister of State recalled the results accomplished during the Hungarian Presidency. On 21 April, the Council adopted conclusions on the Cohesion Policy. Member States agreed that Cohesion Policy had made a marked contribution to the reduction of territorial disparities within the Union and was an important tool for implementing the EU 2020 Strategy. The 28 February meeting of the Energy Council also adopted important conclusions, and in the Agricultural Council, a great majority of Member States supported the Presidency conclusions, which stated that the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should be maintained as a strong common policy. Enikő Győri indicated that the Presidency plans to adopt in June, conclusions on the Energy Roadmap 2050, also submitted by the Commission.
The Hungarian Minister of State for EU Affairs, also mentioned that the Treaty of Lisbon expanded the powers of the European Parliament (EP), concerning the multi-annual financial framework, therefore, its adoption also called for the EP’s consent. Enikő Győri stated that in close cooperation with the next presidential trio of Poland, Cyprus and Denmark, the Hungarian Presidency seeks to find an appropriate way to apply the new provisions of the treaty in practice, and will start the relevant negotiations with the EP, as soon as it has received authorisation from the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper).
Speaking about the multi-annual financial framework itself, Győri highlighted a fundamental contradiction: on the one hand, the Lisbon Treaty and the Europe 2020 Strategy increased the tasks of the EU and we cannot expect to deal with them successfully, if we do not ensure an acceptable level of financing; on the other hand, Member States must pursue budgetary austerity. Therefore, for Hungary, it is not the overall size of the MFF, which is a priority it is more important that spending at European level can, and must be more effective. She added that Budapest is in favour of maintaining the seven-year budgetary period, as it is sufficiently long to permit medium-term planning in cohesion policy; and other development projects.
Speaking about the expense side of the EU budget, Enikő Győri highlighted that Hungary is interested in maintaining the current two-pillar, strong CAP, as it would be unfair if the EU took away the support from farmers of the new Member States, when they could finally fully receive them. Concerning the cohesion policy, the Minister of State mentioned that it has to cover all regions of the EU, but should not focus on Europe 2020 objectives exclusively: in addition to the so-called thematic concentration, the less prosperous Member States must have an opportunity to address their own special needs in the development programmes.
Győri opined that energy and climate policy objectives should be addressed through the mainstreaming of traditional policies, without establishing special funds. The Minister of State acknowledged the need for increased spending in the area of migration, but she also stressed that spending on external relations should not focus only on the Mediterranean region; it has to take into account the needs of the Western Balkans and the Eastern European regions as well.