The issues and objectives figuring on the EU agenda at the turn of 2010–2011 largely coincide with Hungary’s own aims. Hungary’s development and competitiveness is intertwined with the internal development of the European Union and the evolution of its global competitiveness. Therefore it is the primary objective of the Presidency to strengthen the integration process and to strengthen Europe.
Hungary will assume the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time for the period 1 January to 30 June 2011. This period is unique and non-repeatable. The first rotating Presidency is like a baptism of fire: we can only understand the complex decision-making mechanism of the EU if we have been in the office of the Presidency.
The Presidency presents political, diplomatic, professional and communication tasks at the same time, and judgment on a given Member State is greatly influenced by the success it achieves in performing them. The six months of the Presidency lend Hungary much more visibility within the EU and outside it as an EU Member State, while making the Hungarian public much more aware of the European Union and the benefits and opportunities associated with membership.
The rotating Presidency is a challenge for Hungary because with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon new institutional frameworks have to be run-in and filled with content. It is a great responsibility for Hungary that during the first half of 2011, the EU agenda will include important issues that are critical for the future of the whole European integration process and a range of complex and strategic tasks that have to be completed.
As the last member of the Spanish-Belgian-Hungarian Trio Presidency, Hungary will work to promote the finding of a way out of the economic crisis and to lay the foundations for future development. The EU has experienced many crisis situations and has always come out of them stronger. The Hungarian Presidency also wishes to find a solution for the challenges that will make the EU stronger than ever and that will create a strong Europe in an economic, social, political and institutional sense also.
The agenda of the Hungarian Presidency is fundamentally defined by the need to manage the consequences of the economic crisis and to launch the new forms of cooperation. The EU has to be better prepared for eventual future crisis situations: there is a need to institute a permanent crisis management mechanism, to improve economic coordination and to introduce stricter controls of financial discipline. However, there is also life after the crisis. We now have to see what kind of long-term measures could increase the global competitiveness of the EU. The Europe 2020 strategy provides a firm foundation to increase employment, strengthen regional and social cohesion and to improve the innovation abilities of businesses, so that Europe can emerge new and strong from the current shock.
The Hungarian Presidency will concentrate on four main areas: growth and employment for preserving European social achievements, strengthening Europe, a Union closer to its citizens, and enlargement and neighbourhood policy. This political agenda is centred on the human factor. The Presidency will focus on the citizens – human beings who form the basis of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in all cases from economic affairs and common policies to the issue of enlargement. Europe can only become strong and great through its people and their creative potential.