The European Union in 2011 will face the most difficult year for the past two decades, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Presenting Hungary's EU presidency program, Orbán said the Hungarian presidency aimed to promote a strong Europe, he said.
He said the greatest challenge for the EU was to overcome the global crisis and find its place in a radically transforming and redistributed world economy. He said Europe's “exorbitantly large debt portfolio” made it weak. This could only be resolved by promoting employment, he added.
“We must not spend more than we earn and must not burden our children or grandchildren with debt,” he said.
Orbán added that crisis management called for further measures, such as creating a permanent stability mechanism and to better coordinate the individual reforms of member states.
It is important to reinforce the common market, to maintain the cohesion policy, as well as creating a friendly business environment for small and medium size enterprises, he said.
On energy issues, Orbán said that it was crucial to create a “real and permeable” energy market in Europe and to ensure alternative supply routes.
Addressing further enlargement of the EU, Orbán said Croatia's integration process should be concluded during the Hungarian presidency. Bulgaria and Romania are prepared to join the EU's Schengen zone, the PM said, assuring them of his full support.
Orbán defended Hungary's contested media legislation in answer to critical remarks, but said that if the EU finds deficiencies in it, his government would be ready to amend the law. He said MEPs should keep Hungary's internal affairs separate from the country's activities as EU president.
The European Commission fully supports Hungary's EU presidency, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, adressing the the European Parliament after the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán presented his country's programme for its six-month term.
Barroso said that the Commission would consult Hungarian authorities about the contentious issues concerning Hungary's media law this week.
EP President Jerzy Buzek said at the closing debate that European lawmakers had positively assessed the professional aspects of the presidency at a plenary debate on Wednesday. MEPs agreed with the priorities of Hungary's presidency, with its focus on economic issues and special attention given to the European Roma strategy, as well as expansion plans, he added. (MTI – Econews)