Public stakeholders event in Budapest
On 5 February 2015, the Political Capital Institute organized a public stakeholders event in the framework of the New Pact or Europe project.
The first panel consisted of Hungarian MEPs representing the different groups in the European Parliament: György Schöpflin (EPP, Fidesz), István Ujhelyi (S&D, MSZP), Péter Niedermüller (S&D, DK), Tamás Meszerics (Greens/EFA, LMP), Benedek Jávor (Greens/EFA, PM). Participants of the second panel were former Hungarian Commissioners Péter Balázs and László Kovács and State Secretary for European Union Affairs Szabolcs Takács.
Participants in the conference discussed the topic of the EU’s current crisis, its reasons, and possible solutions. All participants agreed that Europe needs a new narrative in order to set common goals for the integration and regain citizens’ trust. There was agreement about the necessity of the European integration as a tool by which individual states are able to meet the complex challenges of the globalized world. Besides setting clear goals, citizens and member states should also come to a common understanding about policy fields and tasks that should be tackled jointly by the EU.
Participants of the workshop discussed one aspect of the pillar “Supportive Union” in details: “Safeguarding civil rights, fundamental rights and freedoms”. All agreed that the EU should have a bigger role in safeguarding fundamental rights and, therefore, a list of tools and measures would be necessary. However, according to many participants, the agenda of the study is not ambitious enough since the measures listed are likely to be implemented anyway.
Another hot topic from the Hungarian perspective that was discussed vividly is the question of the Energy Union as a new grand project. Even though all participants agreed that energy is a core issue for Europe both from economic as well from security perspective, this topic is not suitable as a grand project. One reason is the complexity of the issue and the diverse interests of the member states. The other side of the coin are technical possibilities. Energy Union cannot be considered a real option as long as the necessary infrastructure is not ready.
Participants welcomed the New Pact for Europe project and expressed their gratitude for initiating national discussions on the EU’s strategic options.