On 1st January 2011 Hungary has for the first time in its history officially assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The half-year presidency, which is widely recognised by Hungarians as an important and historical development, comes at a time of serious economic problems not only for the country itself, but for the entire European Union.
In an exclusive interview for the Council website, Mr Victor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, confirmed this by admitting that "Europe stands before its most difficult year in the era since the fall of Communism". Acknowledging the seriousness of the challenges ahead, Mr Orbán reiterated his commitment to making Europe stronger and more effective through continuous and successful implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy.
The Presidency priorities adopted by the Hungarian government include four main themes. The first theme – Growth and employment for preserving the European social model – aims at improving the situation of small and medium enterprises, and focuses on the importance of demography and family policy for employment and economic growth. The second theme – Stronger Europe – focuses on strengthening internal EU policies concerning food, energy and water resources. Within this theme, the Hungarian government intends to continue with the review of the Common Agricultural Policy, facilitate the works on the definition of the common energy policy, and start a discussion on the new European water management policy. Implementation of the Strategy for the Danube Region will also become an important element of the Hungarian presidency. In the third theme – Citizen friendly Union – the presidency highlights those EU policies which have direct influence on the everyday lives of EU citizens. The objectives of this theme will be achieved through further implementation of the Stockholm Programme, admitting Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area, and promoting cultural diversity in the EU. Finally, within the fourth theme – Enlargement and neighbourhood policy – the Hungarian government seeks to continue with the EU enlargement process by concluding the accession negotiations with Croatia and providing integration perspective for other countries of the Western Balkans Region. Much attention will also be given to the Eastern Partnership with the Partnership Summit being held in Budapest in May 2011.
Please, visit the official website under this link for more information about the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.