The role of the Presidency in setting the foreign affairs agenda has been considerably limited following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The foreign minister of the country holding the Presidency, traditionally in charge of this task, has been replaced by the EU's high representative for foreign affairs. Presidencies seek, however, ways to retain or increase their influence on the regions belonging traditionally to their sphere of interest.
Hungary has decided to focus on the EU's imminent neighbourhood and breathe new life into the Eastern Partnership - a tailor-made EU policy toward six Eastern post-Soviet countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. To this end, Budapest has pencilled into its agenda an Eastern Partnership summit for May. The aim of the high-level meeting, according to Hungarian diplomats, is to take stock of progress made until now and to set new priorities for the future.
Although launched only a year ago, the Eastern Partnership requires renewal, says Budapest. "The policy was designed for a different Eastern Europe," a Hungarian diplomat said. "The result of the presidential elections in Ukraine has changed the situation in the region diametrically. We are also now facing completely different political developments in Moldova," he added. It is well known that the countries participating in the policy are not entirely satisfied with its current format. They would like the Eastern Partnership to provide greater financial assistance and a more individual-oriented approach.
The summit in Budapest will take place shortly after publication by the European Commission of its review of the...