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Vice-President of the European Commission - Responsible for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration

The Hungarian Presidency programme

Presentation in European Parliament of the programme of the Hungarian Presidency

Strasbourg, 19 January 2011

Mr President,

I would firstly like to thank Prime Minister Orbán for his presentation of a very ambitious programme. I would also like to thank the Members for a lovely debate and an intense exchange of views.

I think that democratic debate is the best way to find the best solutions for Europe. However, there is one condition, and that is that the interlocutors must have a common goal. I believe that we have such a goal because most of us in this House want a stronger Europe. The motto chosen by the Hungarian Presidency is thus a very appropriate and good one. On behalf of the Commission, I would therefore emphasise that we must support the goals of the Hungarian Presidency.

As the debate made clear, there is a tall order for this semester. We have to introduce economic governance, find solutions to the sovereign debt crisis, and implement the EU 2020 strategy much more quickly – to name but a few of the aims in the economic field. However, we very much welcome the Hungarian Presidency’s focus on seeking a better solution regarding the integration of Roma, and on the Danube strategy.

I should like to comment on the issue of how to integrate Roma in the European Union more effectively. As you know, we engaged in a very broad programme to raise awareness and promote coordinated dialogue in the Member States on opportunities offered by EU funds. Following on from Hungary in 2009 and Romania in 2010, Slovakia and Bulgaria will be the focus this year. I believe that, together with you and with the Hungarian Presidency, we will be able in April to deliver the new EU framework for national Roma integration strategies.

I would like to comment on Mr Cohn-Bendit’s remarks because I consider it very important to demonstrate clearly at this time that the EU stands by Tunisia and its people. I would like, in particular, to pay tribute to the courage that all Tunisians have shown in recent days. I am sure that the EU will support Tunisians as they pursue their peaceful and democratic aspirations.

The new unity government should truly represent the wishes of Tunisian society. It should conduct the country through a peaceful and democratic transition and organise early elections. I would like to assure this Parliament that we stand ready to provide immediate assistance in preparing and organising the electoral process and to offer lasting support for a genuine democratic transition. If requested, we are also prepared to deploy the necessary assistance to help the Tunisian authorities with urgent needs.

In answer to the calls for swift action from the Commission on the question of media law, I would like to inform the honourable Members that our discussion with the Hungarian authorities at political level and at expert level is intense and ongoing. The Commission will send a clarification letter to Budapest this week seeking further explanations. I should like to emphasise once again that we are acting very swiftly, given the complexity of the issue. I must also repeat what President Barroso said: that we are much encouraged by Prime Minister Orbán’s political commitment to correcting the law if necessary.

We are fully confident that Hungary will take all the necessary steps to ensure that the new media law is implemented with full respect for European values on media freedom and for the relevant EU legislation as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. The Commission will, in this regard, act in full accordance with its role as guardian of the Treaties.

I should like to conclude by saying that we have full trust in the commitment and enthusiasm of the Hungarian Presidency. We have seen the solid preparation made by the Hungarian authorities for this task, with a view to being a very energetic presidency in this important semester. We believe that together we can further the European project. I am sure that the European Parliament will support this work and will play its role in a spirit of loyal cooperation. We clearly need to make very substantive progress on our top priorities in this semester.

I wish the Presidency all the best for the next six months. We are looking forward to working together for the benefit of Europe.

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