June 28th, 2011

Foreign minister says Europe functioned well under Hungary’s presidency term

The past six months of Hungary’s EU presidency demonstrated that Europe was able to function and react to challenges, even if sometimes slowly and unevenly, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi told a press conference in Brussels on Monday.

Summing up the achievements of Hungary’s EU presidency, Martonyi mentioned the comprehensive economic governance package, the first European semester involving the EU-level coordination of fiscal policies, and agreements that marked a breakthrough in common energy policy.

The political decision on concluding Croatia’s EU accession talks was also booked as a success, he said, adding that merely some “technical fine-tuning” is left to be done.

The minister noted that several objectives of the EU presidency could be summed up under the heading of “integration”. This category, he said, included the issue of EU enlargement, the approval of the Roma framework strategy and the Danube strategy as well as progress towards the admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen zone.

Although the two nations have yet to join the no-visa zone, the EU interior ministers agreed that in technical terms both had met the membership criteria.

Martonyi noted that the EU had faced plenty of challenges during the Hungarian presidency, such as the difficulties in the euro area, the Fukushima disaster and the “Arab Spring”.

Although changes in the north African countries can offer new opportunities, not just create a challenge, the EU had to manage the situation there, too, he said.

Asked about the media law and the new constitution, two issues regarded by many as distracting attention from the work of the presidency, Martonyi said that the government had not let itself be diverted from its responsibilities as EU president and focussed exclusively on its job.

The minister noted that Hungary had amended all paragraphs in its media law that had been criticised by the EU.

He also cited the Venice Commission as saying that the constitution complied with the rule of law and the European norms of human rights.

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