Rigid mandate for the European Commission was a mistake

Weak outcome after ambitious preparations

Hun­gary shares the EU wide gen­er­al per­cep­tion that the out­come of the Copen­hagen con­fer­ence was a dis­ap­point­ment for the Union, which want­ed to reach a tar­get-spe­cif­ic and legal­ly bind­ing agree­ment there. Hav­ing said that, Hun­gary of course sup­port­ed the con­clu­sions of the March 2010 Euro­pean Coun­cil, in which the mem­ber states sub­scribed to a swift imple­men­ta­tion of the Copen­hagen Accord and also to the grad­ual for­ma­tion of the EU’s nego­ti­at­ing posi­tion dur­ing the next con­fer­ence to be held in Novem­ber 2010 in Can­cun (COP16). In a stance sim­i­lar to that of all mem­ber states, Hun­gary also agrees that the Can­cun con­fer­ence “should at least pro­vide con­crete deci­sions anchor­ing the Copen­hagen Accord to the UN nego­ti­at­ing process and address­ing remain­ing gaps, includ­ing as regards adap­ta­tion, forestry, tech­nol­o­gy and mon­i­tor­ing, report­ing and ver­i­fi­ca­tion.”11Euro­pean Coun­cil: Euro­pean Coun­cil 25/26 March 2010. Con­clu­sions, EUCO 7/10, p. 8, avail­able at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/113591.pdf (last access: 17 May 2010).

While the offi­cial Hun­gar­i­an posi­tion is not revealed at this point, Csa­ba Taba­j­di, leader of the Hun­gar­i­an Social­ist Par­ty (MSZP) with­in the Group of the Pro­gres­sive Alliance of Social­ists and Democ­rats (S&D) in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, empha­sised in his speech22The speech of Csa­ba Taba­j­di was deliv­ered at a con­fer­ence in Budapest, 26 Jan­u­ary 2010. at the end of Jan­u­ary 2010 that even though the Union’s ambi­tious goals were good, they were not con­vinc­ing enough, due to the EU’s poor nego­ti­at­ing strat­e­gy. He point­ed out that the EU “mis­un­der­stood” the com­mit­ment of Chi­na and oth­er emerg­ing coun­tries, as well as the room for manoeu­vre of the Pres­i­dent of the USA. The EU was also unable to build a coali­tion with devel­op­ing coun­tries. In his view, giv­ing a rigid man­date to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion was a major mis­take. A bet­ter result could prob­a­bly have been achieved if the Com­mis­sion would have obtained a more flex­i­ble man­date, name­ly, “elas­tic­i­ty” down­wards from 20 per­cent emis­sion cuts and not only upwards. Accord­ing to Taba­j­di, the EU’s nego­ti­a­tion strat­e­gy needs to be revised while prepar­ing for Can­cun. János Áder, anoth­er Hun­gar­i­an Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment (MEP) from the Euro­pean People’s Par­ty (EPP), was even more crit­i­cal, stat­ing that the fail­ure of Copen­hagen was due to the lack of a sin­gle EU posi­tion.33See the press com­mu­ni­ca­tion of János Áder, 21 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://ader.fidesz-eu.hu/hu/cikk/20/ (last access: 10 June 2010).

No change in basic policy targets but a more assertive attitude is needed

Accord­ing to a high offi­cial at the Hun­gar­i­an Min­istry of For­eign Affairs,44Inter­view done at the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs on 12 May 2010. the Euro­pean Union does not have to change its own ener­gy and cli­mate pol­i­cy. The EU has actu­al­ly been tak­ing the lead in the fight against glob­al warm­ing and has done uni­lat­er­al­ly the most since 2008 for glob­al cli­mate pro­tec­tion. The ambi­tious goals of the EU should be main­tained and they should become accept­able for oth­er coun­tries, too, as there is no alter­na­tive to them. Fur­ther­more, the EU must keep on striv­ing for a legal­ly bind­ing out­come of the COP16 and fol­low­ing con­fer­ences. The EU should be open to var­i­ous alter­na­tive solu­tions as well, such as tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment or a ban on defor­esta­tion.55See the arti­cle on the Hun­gar­i­an site Ener­giaOn­line, 21 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.energiaonline.hu/cikkek/84 (last access: 17 May 2010).

A global binding agreement within the UNFCCC should remain a priority

Hun­gary (togeth­er with all oth­er EU mem­ber states, except for Mal­ta and Cyprus) belongs to the so-called Annex I coun­tries with­in the Unit­ed Nations Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC). This means that Hun­gary is ready to reduce its green house gas emis­sions below 1990 lev­els. In full har­mo­ny with the EU posi­tion, Hun­gary is in favour of impos­ing bind­ing agree­ments on all par­ties to the UNFCCC in the next con­fer­ences. Accord­ing to a high offi­cial at the Hun­gar­i­an Min­istry of For­eign Affairs,66Inter­view done at the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs on 12 May 2010. in gen­er­al, the UNFCCC frame­work is a good one, embrac­ing in one way or anoth­er near­ly all coun­tries of the world. But this frame­work should be fur­ther tight­ened and in this respect the EU should assert its ambi­tious posi­tion more strong­ly, bet­ter reflect­ing its eco­nom­ic weight.

Political support and financial contribution

Despite its lim­it­ed finan­cial resources Hun­gary ful­ly agrees with such efforts. Hun­gary takes part in the Union’s recent ini­tia­tive to assist devel­op­ing coun­tries fight­ing cli­mate change. In this frame­work, in Decem­ber 2009, the 27 mem­ber gov­ern­ments com­mit­ted 7.2 bil­lion Euros for this pur­pose to be spent in the three years between 2010 and 2012. The Hun­gar­i­an con­tri­bu­tion to this enve­lope amounts to six mil­lion Euros in total.77See the report of the Hun­gar­i­an elec­tron­ic news mag­a­zine “Para­me­ter”, 11 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.parameter.sk/rovat/kulfold/2009/12/11/eu-csucs-72-milliard-euro-fejlodo-orszagoknak-klimavedelemre (last access: 17 May 2010). Dur­ing the Euro­pean Coun­cil meet­ing at the end of March 2010, Hun­gary also sub­scribed to the Union’s joint com­mit­ment with oth­er devel­oped coun­tries to “mobilise $100 bil­lion per year by 2020 to help devel­op­ing coun­tries fight cli­mate change.”88Euro­pean Coun­cil: Euro­pean Coun­cil 25/26 March 2010. Con­clu­sions, EUCO 7/10, p. 9, avail­able at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/113591.pdf (last access: 17 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained there­in.