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Hungarian EU Presidency Made Great Leap towards Bulgaria's Schengen Entry - Ambassador

Date: 28.06.2011

The outgoing Hungarian Presidency of the EU has achieved great progress in pushing forward the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Agreement, according to Hungarian Ambassador in Sofia Judit Lang.

Her Excellency spoke Wednesday in the Bulgarian capital about the results of the Hungarian Presidency's work, noting that it has achieved 98 % of its goals in the six months in which it chaired the EU. Wednesday's event was also attended by Belgium's Ambassador in Sofia Marc Michielsen and Spain's Ambassador Rafael Mendivil, the two other representatives of the EU Presidency trio.

"Hungary's activities during its EU Presidency were characterized with a huge spectrum of dialogues and seeking consensus, and the set goals were accomplished. The results have proved that the countries from Central and Eastern Europe are the driving force of the enlarged European Union," Her Excellency Ambassador Lang stated.

She emphasized Bulgaria and Romania's future Schengen accession and the progress of the EU Danube Strategy as major topics outlining the results of Hungary's work in charge of the EU Presidency in January-June 2011.

"I am proud to declared that Bulgaria and Romania have proved they are technically prepared to join Schengen. But trust is very important for the entire European family, that is wy we need to work together in order to find it and develop it, including after the end of our Presidency. The Schengen Area needs the two newest EU member states, and I hope that in September there will be a final solution on this issue," Lang explained.

Bulgaria and Romania were initially hoping to join the Schengen Area by March 2011 but leading Western European states, including France and Germany, insisted that their Schengen accession be tied to their post-EU accession progress on problem areas as monitored by the European Commission under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.

As far as the newly adopted EU Strategy for the Danube Region is concerned, Her Excellency stressed that it has turned into a positive strategy with a better allocation of resources and better coordination.

The EU Danube Strategy emphasizes sustainable growth and policy coordination to tap into the potential of the Danube region. Ambassador Lang underscored that the key for the success of the Danube Strategy lies in the way that it will be implemented.

Hungary's EU Presidency further achieved progress in assisting with measures for EU's economic recovery and improving its global competitiveness, she noted.

According to Lang, however, Hungary had its greatest successes within its EU Presidency at the EU Council summit in June when the leaders of the member states agreed to complete the EU accession negotiations with Croatia by the end of June 2011, i.e. by the end of the Hungarian Presidency's term. What is more, the EU Council also approved the EU framework for national strategies on Roma integration, which was also one of Hungary's top priorities in charge of the Presidency.

Her Excellency pointed out that Hungary was faced with a number of unexpected challenges during its EU Presidency such as the civil unrest in Libya and North Africa and the March 11, earthquake in Japan. Hungary's Presidency has managed to activate the EU civil protection mechanism to deal with these crises.

As of July 1, the EU Presidency will be assumed by Poland and by a new trio – Poland, Denmark, and Cyprus. Hungary has made it clear that it will work in close cooperation with the new head of the EU Presidency, Poland, in order to provide for consistency on a number of the projects that Hungary took up during its term.

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