NEW CAPTAIN, ICEBERGS AHEAD🧊

This week, Hungary replaced Belgium at the steering wheel of the rotating six-month Presidency of the EU Council. Although we know the likely holders of the EU’s top jobs, the political landscape is still shifting. As Belgium’s reign ends and Hungary’s begins, we are looking ahead at the possibilities and challenges for the EU. 

NEW CAPTAIN, ICEBERGS AHEAD 🧭🧊

IT’S RATHER POLITICAL. With Brussels gearing up to install new political leadership post-elections, the incoming Hungarian Presidency will not oversee any key legislative moments. But as with all EU Presidencies, it will carry political weight. The EU Commission is unlikely to introduce new laws during the upcoming six months, but Hungary’s ambition (or lack thereof) will affect EU enlargement and certain policy areas. This is particularly important in the case of the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), a key framework for managing the impact of the climate and biodiversity crises on farmers. 

STATUS QUO NEEDS TO GO. Hungary committed to prioritising the Union’s post-2027 agricultural policy design in its work program. Today’s CAP is deeply unfair, stifles innovation and obstructs the entry of young people into farming. Even more, the recent suspiciously fast-tracked and anti-science CAP reform removed essential environmental safeguards. It’s now up to the Hungarian Presidency to kick start a participatory and inclusive process for this policy that affects European citizens’ daily lives, health, and wallets, as well as our farmers’ future and food security. The future of European farming is on the line. 

LARGER, GREENER UNION. Despite Hungary’s attempts to block the move, accession talks for Ukraine and Moldova began last week. The EU gave the green light to start the process for these two countries to become part of the Union. Tuesday’s meetings with Ukraine and Moldova will initiate a review process to assess how well the countries’ laws align with EU standards and identify potential work still needed. 

GREEN CROSSROADS. Despite concerns such as infringement proceedings against Hungary on a range of laws and issues of democratic rollback and weakening of civic space, there is room for hope that the Hungarian Presidency will build on the successes of its Belgian and Spanish predecessors. The recently adopted Strategic Agenda addresses the climate, nature, and pollution crises, ruling out inaction. Hungary will, therefore, need to advance this ambition and drive forward a green and social deal for a one-planet economy. 

WRAPPING UP THE TRIO. After Spain and Belgium, Hungary now has the responsibility to ensure a constructive legacy for the Presidency Trio. Both prior presidencies were praised for the advances they drove, as well as for promoting debate and reflections on a range of key priorities, such as climate mitigation, just transition, circular economy, and climate adaptation and resilience. Priorities that combine green and social dimensions remain fundamentally important during the Hungarian Council Presidency period. 

GOOD EFFORTS, MIXED RESULTS. As the last Council Presidency before the EU Parliament elections last June – and last of this legislative period – the Belgian Presidency came at a critical juncture of the EU Green Deal. This led to an intense agenda, added to by the additional complications around the farmers’ protests and increased political pushback on green policies. The Belgian Presidency made good efforts to deliver the Green Deal and promote its continuation into the post-election legislative cycle. We saw concrete results in circular economy and environmental justice and relief at the Nature Restoration Law’s positive final vote. However, the overall outcomes were mixed, with poor results in water and, particularly, agriculture. 

CIVIL EU PRESIDENCY 🏛️🇪🇺

KEEPING IT CIVIL: This week, the Great Lakes and Wetlands Association and the Civilisation Association launch the Civil EU Presidency – a series of events that aim to ensure a democratic, inclusive, and sustainable future by amplifying civil society voices during the six-month Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU. 

MAKE IT MEANINGFUL. Hungary holds the presidential seat at a critical transition period following the EU elections, with a narrowing window to make meaningful changes to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Despite this, several important topics are missing from the Presidency’s list of priorities, dominated by competitiveness concerns. The parallel Civil EU Presidency, therefore, proposes a complementary agenda focusing on democracy, solidarity and the green transition. 

THE SEVEN. The Civil Presidency will organise seven international events in Budapest, echoing the seven priorities of the Hungarian EU Presidency. The EEB will support an event on Implementing the EU’s Water Resilience strategy in September. PR here.  

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