On Saturday, at an event organised on Europe Day, Deputy State Secretary for EU Development Policy Communication Nándor Csepreghy said that even though there have been disputes over the past eleven years, EU membership has brought Hungary countless benefits. He stressed that the relationship between the EU and Hungary has stood the test of time, and crises have only strengthened the ties.

The Deputy State Secretary explained that the running race organised on Europe Day was an excellent opportunity to see the Hungarian capital’s EU-funded developments, and noted that nationwide there are a total of sixty-three thousand such investments.

Mr. Csepreghy said that the Prime Minister’s Office has signed an agreement with the European Commission’s representation office in Hungary and with the Hungarian Information Office of the European Parliament to organise events similar to Saturday’s on Europe Day, in which citizens can do more than see statistics on Hungary’s EU membership, also getting the chance to experience the benefits of it.

The head of the Hungarian representation office of the European Commission Tamás Szűcs stressed that the fate of Hungarians is closely linked to that of Europe. The year of Hungary’s accession, 2004, was a historic turning-point for both the country and the EU, and accession was an event through which Europe became stronger and Hungary reassumed its true place, he said.

Mr. Szűcs said that Hungary is one of the biggest net recipients of the EU, as more that HUF 8000 billion has been allocated to the country since 2004, and a similar amount of funds is to be expected in the coming years. In the 2014–2020 period Hungary will receive about HUF 8000 billion more funds from the EU than the amount it contributes, he explained. Mr. Szűcs added that this is equivalent to HUF 3 billion per day for seven years.

He said that on 9 May 1950 French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed the idea of a unified Europe, in order to prevent further wars on our continent. This objective has been reached with the establishment of the European Union and its constant development, but the main message of Europe Day – the importance of peace and cooperation – is just as valid 65 years on, he stressed.

Vice-President of the European Parliament’s Committee for Culture and Education Andrea Bocskor (Fidesz-KDNP) said that the Schuman Declaration of 65 years ago was the 20th century’s most important event, and one which also defines our present. The guarantees of our survival and our peaceful development are cooperation and solidarity, and this is what Europe needs most, she said.

She called Hungary’s accession to the EU one of the most important events in the country’s history after the fall of communism: “Europe opened up for Hungary, and Hungary opened up for Europe”.

Europe Day on 9 May is the anniversary of the historic Schuman Declaration, which led to the foundation of the EU, and it is celebrated across the 28 EU Member States as a symbol of European peace and unity. On 9 May 1950 Robert Schuman presented his vision of the European Coal and Steel Community: the predecessor of the EU.

On Europe Day this year a festival was organised at Budapest’s Margit Island Athletic Centre, where families could enjoy various free events such as joint fairy-tale writing, a green playhouse, a bouncy castle and concerts. Visitors also had the chance to meet Members of the European Parliament and to gain information on the opportunities provided by the EU, such as employment rights or study abroad. As 2015 is the European Year for Development, civil society organisations also gave presentations on what Europe does for developing countries.

In the morning there was a running contest entitled “Eleven Years – Eleven Kilometres”, in which over four thousand people took part.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade/MTI)