As a general rule, the Conference of State Secretaries for Administration within the Prime Minister’s Office is the main body that coordinates and harmonises all activities at the governmental level.
Between 2004 and 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responsible for coordinating EU affairs and policies. However, this responsibility was transferred to the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office in 2018 by Government Resolution 94/2018 (V.22.).
Government Resolution 1007/2004 (II.12.) on the “harmonisation of the participation of the government in the decision-making activities of the European Union” establishes the Committee of EU Intradepartmental Coordination (CEIC) and its 52 working groups, which are the key structures for coordinating and harmonising the preparation and implementation of tasks emanating from EU membership. The CEIC is chaired by the state secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office and overseen by the State Secretariat for European Policies and Coordination, which is also part of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Each CEIC working group is led by a representative of the primarily concerned ministry and its staff. Additionally, each working group has permanent seats for representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Finance, and the permanent representation to the EU in Brussels, which together ensure the horizontal coordination of governmental activities.
Working Group 24 is responsible for the common foreign, security and defence policies, and ensures that the idea of a WGA is translated into practice. It is led by a representative of the MFAT and includes representatives from the staff of the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Finance. On the other hand, Working Group 27 is in charge of development and humanitarian aid, and led by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in the MFAT. The two working groups closely cooperate to ensure coordination of the so-called ‘3D’ (diplomacy, defence and development) activities. In addition to the working groups, the Interdepartmental Committee for Coordination of International Development Cooperation, comprising representatives of eight ministries, also ensures a coordinated governmental approach in the areas of development and humanitarian aid.
This integrated approach is supported by the fact that the minister of foreign affairs and trade is also responsible for policies related to foreign economic relations as well as for those involving energy, trade/ investment, migration and EU visa issues in addition to overseeing the domestic intelligence agencies.
Within the MFAT, the Directorate-General for EU Common Foreign and Security Policy and Neighbourhood Policy is the key structure for coordinating and harmonising intra-ministerial and intra-governmental activities relating to EU external relations, including crises and conflicts. Within the DG, a senior diplomat at the rank of deputy director-general is responsible for the proper functioning of this coordination mechanism. The DG operates in close partnership with the Directorate-General for Security and Non-Proliferation Policy, which is in charge of NATO affairs as well as of coordinating cooperation related to the common defence policy within the MFAT and with other concerned ministries, including the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior. The WGA is also facilitated by the Directorate-General for European Affairs, which is the main contact point both within the ministry and between the ministry and the State Secretariat for European Policies and Coordination within the Prime Minister’s Office when it comes to EU policies.
Furthermore, the coordinated approach is enabled by the fact that the deputy state secretary for security policy, who is the political director of the MFAT, and the deputy state secretary for responses to migration challenges (whose responsibilities also include governmental activities within the UN and other international organisations) are under the supervision of the state secretary for security policy.
The legislative branch also approaches these issues in a coordinated manner. In 2002, the National Assembly established the High Committee on the European Union, which held its first meeting on 19 September 2002. Its objective has been to ensure both a consensus on integration-related issues among political parties in the National Assembly as well as coordination between the government and the National Assembly at the highest level. The committee’s meetings are chaired by the president of the National Assembly. It consists of the leaders of the parliamentary groups (fractions) and the presidents of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on European Affairs, and the Committee on Justice. The prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs are permanent members of the meetings. The meetings are adjusted to the meetings of the European Council, where participants receive regular briefings on Hungary’s positions.
The government of Hungary has developed close relationships with EU actors and institutions through its permanent representation to the European Union in Brussels, which is supervised by the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office. Its staff mirrors the setup of the government, which enables it to contribute to any issue or policy.
Similarly, the staffs and coordination mechanisms of the Hungarian representations delegated to international organisations (e.g. the UN, NATO and the OSCE) are composed and regulated in such a way as to ensure a coordinated governmental approach.
In order to facilitate adoption of common EU decisions, the MFAT shares the positions of the Hungarian government with the embassies of the EU member states in Budapest as well as the European Commission representatives in Budapest prior to the meetings of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council and the European Council.