Hungary began its six-month stint as president of the EU Council on 1 July, vowing to ‘Make Europe Great Again’, with a focus on competitiveness and stimulating growth, and curbing illegal migration. The Hungarian presidency’s motto ‘Make Europe Great Again’ reflects the inclinations of the populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Though there is also a reference to the fact that EU member states are stronger together than apart. The Hungarian presidency’s programme will be structured around seven priorities: acceptance of a New European Competitiveness Deal; the reinforcement of the European defence policy; a consistent and merit-based enlargement policy; stemming illegal migration; shaping the future of the cohesion policy; a farmer-oriented EU agricultural policy; and addressing demographic challenges.

2024 being a year of transition, the Hungarian presidency will have to start implementation of the EU’s Strategic Agenda 2024–2029, setting out the long-term guidelines for the Union’s future work. The Hungarian presidency warns that wars, armed conflicts, humanitarian crises in the world, and their aftermath will continue to challenge the continent in the second half of 2024. Top of the priorities list is improvement of productivity and of the Union’s competitiveness, and to stimulate growth. It will aim for adoption of a New European Competitiveness Deal “to restore economic development and create the conditions for sustainable growth, deepen the internal market, focus on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises, promote the green and digital transition in partnership with European economic stakeholders and citizens, international cooperation, and ensure the stability and sustainability of jobs”.

The presidency will look to improve Europe’s defence capabilities, international crisis management responsiveness, and capacities, with particular emphasis on strengthening the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, including defence innovation and the enhancement of defence procurement cooperation between member state.It is no surprise to see immigration as one of its top prioprities, urging closer cooperation with countries bordering the EU, as well as with the key countries of origin and transit. In addition, it says illegal migration and human smuggling must be curbed. Cohesion policy will be important, and the presidency will aim to to reduce regional disparities as well as to secure economic, social, and territorial cohesion. And a key priority will also be for a farmer-centered EU agricultural policy, formulating the rules of the Union’s post-2027 agricultural policy for a competitive, crisis-proof and farmer-friendly agriculture.

Source: EUbusiness

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