Hungary's EU presidency: strengthening European competitiveness

As Hungary prepares to take over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on July 1, 2024, the central focus is set on strengthening European competitiveness. János Bóka, Hungary's Minister for European Union Affairs, recently discussed the main objectives and priorities of the upcoming presidency in an interview with Kossuth Radio's Sunday News program.

Key objectives

Bóka emphasized that one of the primary goals is to establish a new European competitiveness pact. This initiative aims to bring the issue of competitiveness to the forefront of political attention and identify areas across various sectors where decisive actions can be taken to strengthen European businesses and economies.

"We aim to simplify EU legislation, reduce administrative burdens on European enterprises, and fully realize the internal market's potential," Bóka said. He highlighted that this includes looking into the application of internal market principles in sectors such as services, information and communication technology, and the European defense industry.

Strategic areas of focus

The Hungarian presidency will concentrate on several key areas to enhance European competitiveness:

  • simplifying EU legislation: Streamlining regulations to make it easier for businesses to operate within the EU.
  • reducing administrative burdens: Cutting down on the reporting requirements and bureaucratic red tape that hinder business operations.
  • completing the internal market: Ensuring that the internal market functions smoothly, particularly in sectors like services and ICT.
  • european capital market union: Creating a genuine capital market union to facilitate investment and growth.
  • infrastructure and energy connectivity: Strengthening infrastructural and energy links across the continent.
  • collaborative industrial policy: Promoting industrial policies that align with major European goals, such as the green transition, in collaboration with European industries rather than in opposition to them.

Addressing voter concerns

Bóka stressed that the Hungarian presidency's priorities reflect the will of European voters, as indicated by the recent European parliamentary elections. "The elections sent a clear political message: Europe needs change," he remarked. The Hungarian presidency will focus on areas where there is the strongest demand for change, such as enhancing European competitiveness, which underpins prosperity, employment, and economic growth.

Security and defense policy

Another significant focus is the reinforcement of European security and defense policy. "Strengthening Europe's peace and security are of paramount importance," Bóka asserted. The presidency will also address the ongoing migration crisis by bolstering the EU's external borders and fostering international partnerships.

Cultural and strategic engagements

Hungary plans to host around 230 events during its presidency, including 16 informal council meetings and significant summits in Budapest. These include an informal European Council meeting, a summit of the European Political Community, and a proposed EU-Western Balkans summit. Additionally, a Gulf Cooperation Forum and a high-level meeting in Brussels and Luxembourg are on the agenda.

Ensuring institutional functionality

Given the transitional period with a new European Parliament and the election of new commissioners, one of the presidency's central goals is to ensure the functionality of EU institutions. "We must guarantee that the EU remains operational and capable of responding to global events," Bóka stated.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will symbolically receive the presidency's baton from the Belgian Prime Minister and meet with the President of the European Council. The presidency's cultural program will kick off with a concert at a Brussels conference center.