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Belgium to shift EU rotating presidency to Hungary

12-21-2010 11:24 BJT

BRUSSELS, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Belgium is set to shift a six- month rotating presidency of the European Council to Hungary at the end of the year, with the latter vowing to promote a "strong Europe with a human touch."

"More than 50 agreements have been met over the last 6 months," Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said about his country's presidency of the EU. "It is definitely a very good score."

In the aftermath of the economic and financial crisis, the Belgian presidency managed to facilitate the consensus in the area of economic governance as well as the adoption of an important financial supervision package, including the establishment of a permanent crisis mechanism, he said.

The presidency succeeded in settling long-standing disputes, in particular the adoption of the 2011 budget, and the perspective of getting to a single European pattern in 2011, after a blockage of over 10 years.

With external relations high on the agenda, the presidency contributed to signing a free trade agreement with South Korea, reaching an accord with Russia on the country's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and launching the European External Action Service (EEAS).

The Belgian presidency achieved important results regarding the enlargement dossiers, with the opening of accession negotiations to Iceland, the granting of candidate country status to Montenegro and good progress with Turkey and the Balkans.

"The overall situation is favorable. To a large extent, we have achieved our objectives and we can say that despite very difficult time for Europe we have been playing a role in developing a very good cooperation between European institutions," Vanackere said.

Yet, important challenges remain ahead. The EU still needs to address two major weaknesses, including economic governance and external action. "Both issues are two sides of the same coin. Tackling them is crucial for the future," Vanackere said.

"We conclude 2010 with stronger institutions but also with a need of stronger coordination and I see a clear role for rotating presidencies in making this more possible," Vanackere said.

Hungary will take over the rotating presidency on January 1, 2011 and is expected to develop a program based on the results delivered by the Spanish and Belgian presidencies.

"Strong Europe with a human touch" will be the motto of the next presidency, according to Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs Janos Martonyi.

One of the key priorities of Hungary will be to enhance economic governance and coordination, especially through the launching of a European semester, the strengthening of fiscal discipline, and the creation of a surveillance mechanism as well as a permanent crisis mechanism.

Hungary will work on the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy with the aim to generate growth and employment. Integration of Roma people and other social issues will also be part of the program.

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