Judit Varga – Photo: BZT / Nóra Halász

Justice Minister: Demographic challenges to be key focus of Hungary’s 2024 EU presidency

The management of demographic challenges will be a priority of Hungary's presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2024, Justice Minister Judit Varga said in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Hungary believes that the solution to demographic challenges lies in family policy rather than migration, Varga told Hungarian reporters after talks with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola. The minister said she and Metsola discussed the priorities of Hungary’s future EU presidency, among other matters.

During its presidency, Hungary will propose that the EU treaties cover family policy and that the EU allocate funding to the issue, Varga said. The bloc should also support family policy, not just migration, she added.

Varga also highlighted enlargement policy as a key focus of the Hungarian presidency, saying that “Serbia must definitely be integrated with the European community.”

Hungary will also give increased attention to cohesion policy, Varga said, adding that by addressing imbalances among member states’ economies, the policy made the entire bloc more successful.

Meanwhile, Varga said she had also held talks with Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric, discussing the situation of ethnic Hungarians in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathia region.

Hungary supports Ukraine’s perspective of EU integration, but considers it important that its north-eastern neighbour respect the European norms laid down in the fundamental charters, such as respect for the rights of national minorities, Varga said.

The minister also held talks with Siofra O’Leary, president of the European Court of Human Rights. She noted that the Strasbourg court had recently acknowledged that Hungary’s system of legal remedy designed to address the length of civil proceedings was adequate for establishing an effective domestic remedy.

Asked about the European Commission’s conditions for unlocking EU funding for Hungary, Varga said the “networks of certain civil groups” felt uncomfortable about the fact that Hungary was “fulfilling its commitments and doing its homework”. “The measures are working and the newly-established institutions were exemplary in ensuring transparency and combatting corruption,” she added.

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