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Hungary’s European Union (EU) presidency will focus on seven priority areas, János Bóka, the EU affairs minister, said. Consultations have been held with all EU member states, EU institutions and candidate states, Bóka noted in a video posted on Facebook, adding that more than 250 discussions had taken place, “which is unprecedented in the history of [EU] presidencies”. Hungary’s presidency wants to adopt a new European competitiveness pact to invigorate the bloc’s economic growth, boost its defence industry, and conclude partnership agreements on protecting the external borders and managing the causes of migration, he said. Also, its aim is to advance the enlargement process when it comes to the candidate countries of the Western Balkans, he added. Further, Hungary will launch a strategic debate on the future of cohesion policy “which has proven a success for decades” in strengthening EU competitiveness and ironing out inequalities in the internal market, Bóka said.
Hungary wants a farmer-centric agricultural policy that lays the foundation for competitive agriculture while guaranteeing Europe’s food security and providing farmers with a fair living, he said. Issues related to demographic challenges will be on agenda in all council formations, Bóka, said, declaring: “Let’s make Europe great again!”
Meanwhile, Bóka underlined in an interview to public radio that boosting European competitiveness will be the main focus of Hungary’s EU presidency. Hungary wants to institute a European competitiveness pact within the framework of the European Council during its presidency, putting the issue in the central focus of politics and highlighting areas where constructive decisions can be made, such as streamlining EU legislation, cutting red tape for European businesses and broadening the internal market. The latter may encompass services, IT and Europe’s defence industry, he added.
A proper European capital market which boosts infrastructure and energy links and establishes a European industrial policy aimed at fulfilling key European objectives, such as the green transition, is also a central objective, Bóka said. A European security and defence policy aimed at strengthening the bloc’s peace and security and managing the migration crisis by strengthening Europe’s external borders and bolstering international partnerships will also be promoted under Hungary’s presidency, he said. “There’s a basic need … to properly handle this crisis that has persisted since 2015,” he said.
The presidency comes at a time when the European parliament and commission are in the process of being formed, he noted, adding that Hungary would strive to ensure the smooth operations of European institutions during this period while ensuring that the bloc is able to respond to world events.
The minister said Hungary plans to organise a summit of the EU and Western Balkans in addition to a Gulf cooperation forum. Fully 37 formal council meetings are expected to take place in Brussels and Luxembourg, he said. Politically, Hungary’s presidency “will be successful if, as well as managing the institutional transition, it also shows how it is possible to deliver the change that European citizens expect, based on the outcome of the EP elections…” the minister said.