By Eloise Nosworthy
Hungary took over the EU Presidency on 1 January, following Belgium and Spain in a pre-determined 18-month programme. The tripartite plan included a focus on growth, jobs and social inclusion, on EU enlargement and external relations, and it aimed at creating both a stronger Europe and a Union closer to its citizens.
As such, the Hungarian presidency will have to oversee the negotiations for the EU’s 2014 – 2020 budget, which will be hard fought. In addition, Hungary will be responsible for concluding talks on a permanent European Bail-out mechanism, and discuss European Economic governance, as a method of rejuvenating the Stability and Growth Pact. Furthermore, the future of the CAP, as a key element of the 2014 – 2020 budget will also have to be considered; Hungary also hopes to make progress on a European-wide Energy policy.
The Hungarian Government has also stated that they wished to make progress on the question of minorities, and more specifically that of the Roma, whose difficulties are an ongoing and widespread European issue.
Finally, Hungary hopes to address the question of European external relations. They wish to make rapid progress on Enlargement, opening up to Croatia and speeding the process for Turkey. The question of Eastern Europe and its relationship older EU member states is also a priority for the Hungarians, who want to cement closer ties.