Hungary appreciates French Presidency priorities

For Hungary, a member state who will participate in the next trio presidency, all the present priorities announced by the French EU-Presidency are of high importance and their special treatment is welcome. In regards to the environment, energy and climate issues,[1] at the ministerial meeting on the 3th until 5th of July, all member states – including Hungary – reinforced their earlier commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 2020. Beyond the agreement on principle however, it is rather difficult for most of the new member states to fully comply with the target. On this point, Hungary would not like to slow down the negotiations leading to the final agreement by the end of the year, but would like to draw attention to the efforts Hungary already made between 1990 and 2005. According to Hungarian diplomats, the new member states need longer time and more investments to introduce clean technologies, which should be taken into account when calculating the emission trading system (ETS) quota. From this point of view Hungary does not support the Commission allowing Austria, Luxembourg, Spain and Italy to increase emissions by 2020 even above their Kyoto target. Hungary would also support the formula whereby 20 percent of the gains from ETS could be re-channelled to the new member states – against the 10 percent approach of most of the old members.
 
As far as immigration is concerned,[2] Hungary has always been supporting a joint strategy and financial solidarity at the EU level. Europe is facing on the one hand huge immigration pressures, and on the other hand an increasing need for a larger labour force due to an aging population. Hungary agrees with the French Presidency that these aspects should somehow be reconciled, that is why the Hungarian Minister has also endorsed the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum in Cannes (a document to be finally adopted at the October summit). Hungary is currently presiding over the so-called “Salzburg Forum” (comprising Austria, the “Visegrad Group”[3], Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia) aiming at tightening cooperation in the field of immigration. In the status of acting president, Hungary has also been expressing the views of these states when it lent support for the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. Furthermore, Hungary deems it important that the European labour market be fully liberalised first among the 27 member states, and only thereafter should the European Union widen the entrance vis-à-vis third country job seekers.
 
Regarding security and defence policy, in the Hungarian view,[4] it is time to revise the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) with an outlook towards rendering it more concise, simpler and more focused. The revised ESS should be concentrating on a renewed European Security and Defence Policy marked by the systematic reinforcement of the European Union’s civil and military capacities. It seems that there is an increasing need in the world for crisis management, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions to which the EU should be able to respond via quantitative and qualitative upgrading of its capacities. Thus the new ESS must reflect these reinforced commitments of the European Union.
 
In regards to the EU’s tighter relations with the Mediterranean region, Hungary supports this idea although the new system of relations should be filled with substance during the presidency. Hungary deems it important that the new initiative for enhanced partnership between the European Union and the Mediterranean partners will occur in the EU framework and not outside of it (i.e. embracing only the seaside states).
 
Regarding the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the official Hungarian position has not been made available yet. At the same time, the major interest of Hungary in this respect can be summarised as follows: Hungary is interested in a sustainable CAP which would still be based on the initial fundamental principles of a common market, Community preference and financial solidarity.[5] At the same time, Hungary also acknowledges the importance of sustainable finances supporting the CAP. This is why Budapest would be interested in the following elements of a new reform: further decreasing the regulated agricultural prices, abolishing the quantitative restrictions on production, full decoupling of direct payments accompanied with ‘cautious’ modulation (not endangering the competitiveness of larger farms). Hungary is fundamentally interested in a system that would not go on limiting production but would pave the way for competitive specialisation. In addition, Hungary always supports increased EU assistance to rural development. With cited interests, Hungary is somewhere between the ‘London group’ urging thorough CAP reform (i.e. the UK, the Scandinavian states and the Netherlands) and the ‘traditionalists’ wanting to preserve the present system (e.g. France, Spain or Greece). In fact, Hungary can be flexible enough to contribute to common European compromises with regards to the CAP of the future.
 
Finally, concerning economic growth and employment the improvement of the situation is a must in Hungary, where both GDP growth and employment are among the lowest in the EU-27. In Hungary more and more experts share the view that the EU should have stronger competences under both policy areas pushing the member states towards more dynamic growth coupled with sustainable public finances and accompanied with increasing employments rates.
 
Options for the creation of a European External Action Service
 
Hungary would prefer a European External Action Service (EEAS) effectively coordinating all aspects of the Union’s external relations – be it economic, development-type or foreign and security policy related.[6] The EEAS should be a ‘sui generis’ independent institution, led by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It should be financed by the common budget and should comprise officials/diplomats from the Commission and the Council’s Secretariat General (together 2/3) and from the member states (1/3). While it is regulated by the Lisbon Treaty that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy would be the Vice-President of the Commission and would chair the Foreign Affairs Council, the chairmanships of the approx. 30 working groups under this broad policy area remain to be settled. In this respect the Hungarian view is that working groups like the ones on enlargement, European Neighbourhood Policy, external trade, or development, as well as defence and Petersberg-type missions should be chaired by the presiding country, while the EEAS representative could chair working groups dealing with multilateral relations or human rights.



[1] See: (last access: 28 August 2008).

[2] See an article on this in the Hungarian daily, Népszabadság, available under: (last access: 28 August 2008).

[3] See the web site of the “Visegrad Group” under: (last access: 28 August 2008).

[4] The answers regarding defence and the Mediterranean are based on an interview with a high official of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

[5] The answer is based on an expert report ordered by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 2007, which is available in Hungarian language under: (last access: 28 August 2008).

[6] The answer given here is based on an interview with a high official of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.