On 8 July 2019 the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade hosted the round-table discussion, Hungarian national interest in Europe: minority affairs in the European Parliament. Among the invited guests, Balázs Brucker, political scientist, held the keynote speech, ’The national minority intergroup of the European Parliament: an old-new instrument for minority interest enformecement’, to which Zoltán Kántor, Director of the Research Institute for Hungarian Communities Abroad and Attila Kovács, Associate Research Fellow of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade reflected and added their professional ideas. The roundtable discussion was moderated by Márton Ugrósdy, Director of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Balázs Brucker in his presentation pointed out the opportunities and obstacles given by the European Parliament in the field of minority protection, emphasizing that the institution had already recognized the problem in the early 1980s, yet there is no single framework for minority protection within the European Parliament. He mentioned the European Parliament’s specialized committees – LIBE, CULT – which deal with minority issues, talked about the political intergroups, which aslo have an interest in minority protection; thus the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages was discussed as well. From Hungary’s aspect, he pointed out that since 2004, there was always a Hungarian representative elected as co-chairman of the mentioned intergroup.
After the lecture Attila Kovács added that there was a national consensus on the issue of minority affairs and pointed out that the Hungarian co-presidency was not a coincidence in the mentioned intergroup, because since 2010 this issue has been at the centre of Hungarian domestic politics. According to Zoltán Kántor, if the enforcement of minority rights worked properly in the European Union, there would not be a need for these groups. He asked what a minority group would generally wish, for which long-term survival is the basic answer, This objective can be divided into smaller purposes: the use of mother tongue in official life, the use of national symbols, etc., the minority rights enforcement can be started after these.
In the context of future minority rights enforcement, they said that since the new European Parliament is significantly transforming and the European Commission is facing changes as well, it is impossible to see exactly what is waiting for minority advocacy. However, it is expected to be more difficult than before, as the issue of migrant minorities will remain on the agenda, and there has not been much consensus or association between the parliamentary fractions on this matter.