On the closing of the accession talks with the EU and the forthcoming referendum

The Hungarian Europe Society welcomes the results of the Copenhagen summit in December 2002, which created the possibility for Hungary to become an equal-rights member of the European Union from May 1st, 2004, after the necessary ratification process. 

The most extensive enlargement of the European Union to date; the gradual unification of the continent's Eastern and Western parts; and the spread of the idea of a united Europe is a spectacular victory for the liberal democracies. The venue of the April 16th, 2003 signing ceremony - the Acropolis in Athens - is one befitting the importance of this breakthrough.

HES regrets that many important community regulations will come into force only after a transition period, due to the agreement made in Copenhagen. The restriction for several years of mobility of Hungarian labour abroad and the restriction of free purchase of Hungarian agricultural land by foreigners are especially discouraging: these achievements are the due of every European citizen as they are part of the Four Freedoms - the free movement of persons, capital, services and goods -, forming the basis of European integration. At the same time HES understands that the union of the 15 current and the 10 future member states generates a certain concern in some Western and Eastern citizens alike, which might account for the necessity of transition periods. Therefore we find it especially reassuring that several long-standing member states are ready to open their borders immediately for employees coming from new ones.

On the occasion of the forthcoming referendum in Hungary, we call upon public figures to exclude the question of the success or otherwise of the accession negotiations from domestic political debates. The talks lasted for nearly five years. In the meantime, there have been two changes of government in Hungary, but the Hungarian negotiating strategy showed continuity and each government took its part in preparing the country for integration. Therefore the Copenhagen agreement reflects the final results of not just that one day but a much longer period of negotiation.

We find it misleading that disputes among Hungarian political parties concerning our accession have become focused on short-term financial issues. Hungary is not becoming an EU-member for just three years! That is to say: the budget of the Union, which was the basis of the agreement in December 2002, has only been fixed until the end of 2006. The facts are that the Hungarian government will have the right to participate as a full-rights member in the debate deciding on the European Union's next seven-year-budget; that Hungary will join the world's largest economic area of nearly 500 million inhabitants; and that delegates of the Hungarian government and parliament will be able to actively shape the European Union's first constitution, currently being written. This is far more important than the sum of EU assistance in the next three years, which - incidentally - will be much higher than the amount of current transfers.

The members of the Hungarian Europe Society believe that membership of the European Union is a guarantee of long-lasting economic development, political stability and democratic order in Hungary. Before the referendum, due on April 12th, 2003, we would like to draw attention to the fact that spreading of incomplete information and rumours may endanger the success of accession. We believe that it is the rightful demand of the Hungarian society to have access to intelligent, high quality, accurate and correct information during the period of the forthcoming campaign - only two months. We are certain that an open interchange of ideas can only result in the victory of the supporters of the European Union.
January-February 2003

*The declarations do not necessarily reflect the opinion of all members of the Hungarian Europe Society.