For a long time the Hungarian government has consistently shared the view that the future of the European Union is guaranteed if it returns to its foundations, and as part of these foundations Member States must continuously manifest respect and understanding towards one another, Minister of State for EU Affairs Szabolcs Takács said on Monday in the Parliament Building.

At the award ceremony of the contest entitled Hungary and the Central European Region in the European Union, the European Union in the World, in which university and college students were invited to submit entries, Mr Takács highlighted Member States may, however, have different views on one issue or another, such as immigration, economic policy or the institutions of the EU. Hungary is a Member State which fully observes EU law, and is one of the best performing countries in this respect, he stated.

The Minister of State said the contest is the continuation of a beautiful and long-standing tradition as it has been organised for more than twenty years in order to reach out to ambitious young people who would like to deal with the EU. This means that they want to deal “with our lives” as Hungary is a European country, and the Hungarian people are Europeans with deep cultural roots on this continent, he explained. He added Hungary has an opinion, a position on what Europe’s future should be like.

He said since 2014 when the coordination of EU affairs was delegated to the Prime Minister’s Office the range of contestants had also been extended: Hungarian students from the neighbouring countries, too, have the possibility to take part in the contest. It is hopeful that this year more students from beyond the borders submitted entries both in percentage and in volume, he pointed out.

Mr Takács believes it is important that the national communities which make up Europe should feel at home on the continent and that Europe should be “a comfortable and safe” place which is competitive economically and fulfils the function for which it was created. Nowadays the EU is dealing with some weighty issues: not only conventional issues concerning EU law, but also identity issues which fundamentally determine our future, he said. The Minister of State welcomed the fact that both in institutions in Hungary and in institutions conducting programmes in Hungarian beyond the borders there are young people in large numbers who have responsible ideas about the future of Europe and how we should shape life in Europe.

Gábor Zupkó, head of the European Commission Representation in Hungary said the EU is in a better situation today than earlier, there is economic growth and a great many new jobs have come into being. However, the EU is still compelled to face a number of challenges. In global competition not a single Member State would be successful on its own, but by acting together Member States may secure for themselves major political and economic influence, he said. He took the view that the goal is a safer, prosperous and sustainable Europe which is more assertive on the international scene.

The awards were handed over by Speaker of the House László Kövér, Szabolcs Takács and Gábor Zupkó. Students were expected to submit essays on nine topics, including specific EU policies, the experiences of a Member State regarding EU membership, the Single Market, the debate on the future of Europe and Brexit.

Entries were evaluated by a panel of experts appointed by the Speaker of the House. The awarded winners received cash prizes and may take part in a two-day study trip to Brussels.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)