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Greg Dorey


Part of UK in Hungary

29th November 2010

Girding up our loins

Last week the National School of Government came to Budapest for an

extremely useful training session for a group of Embassy staff on what

to expect under the Hungarian EU Presidency. They covered for example

the EU decision making process; the challenges we will face; how the

rotating Presidency fits into the new EU architecture; “jargon busting”

(just look at almost any EU website and you’ll see why this is

important); Hungarian policy priorities; and what the UK would like to

happen during the Presidency. Although we are familiar with a lot of

this, we will face big demands on our time and resources during the

Presidency and need to be as well prepared as possible. British

Ministers and Senior Officials will expect us to be the “experts” on the

spot – not just about Hungary, but about the EU too. And the demands

can be quite unusual – we were told how one of our Embassies was asked

to find out how many mating badgers there were in setts in the country

holding the Presidency at the time. Why? Don’t ask me! Kispál és a Borz

would have been a bit alarmed…. (Obscure and not very good joke about a

Hungarian rock band.)

And then this week a few of us are off to

Brussels for a couple of days for meetings with colleagues from the UK

Representation to the European Commission, the Political and Security

Committee and our bilateral Embassy (Belgium, of course, holds the

Presidency at the moment) as well as some Hungarian counterparts. It’s a

good chance to find out what they expect from us and what life in the

Presidency country will be like once it’s Hungary’s turn. And a chance

too for me to brief my colleagues on what I think will happen under a

Hungarian Presidency. The forecast for Brussels is cold and wet, so I

don’t suppose it will be much fun! And since we are travelling by a

low-cost carrier with only carry on baggage, let’s hope we don’t get