3 February 2011

Who we are?

Gergely Polner - The "borrowed" diplomat

Mr. Gergely Polner has been working for the European Parliament (EP) for five years. He mainly assisted Hungarian, English and German representatives, at the Directorate-General for Communications in Brussels. Then he went on to work as a Public Relations Manager at the EP’s London Office, from early 2010.
”I was ‘borrowed’ from the office, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the term of the EU Presidency. I will return to my job once the six months are over. In Brussels, I will be monitoring the work of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA), the General Affairs Council (GAC), the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) and the summits. My job is to inform the international press in Brussels, about a thousand journalists, on the councils’ activities.”

Mr Polner completed the Benedictine Grammar School of Győr in 1993, and obtained a law degree from the Budapest Eötvös Loránd University. As a student he travelled abroad extensively: he was an elections observer in Bosnia, by commission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)and he even worked as a cruise ship waiter, in the Caribbean.

In respect of his new job, the young diplomat thinks that crisis management and employment generation will be major issues, in the next period. The related Europe 2020 Strategy, is closely linked to Roma integration, and education. Other key tasks, will include the development of a Strategy for the Danube Region, budgetary coordination between member states, and the re-regulation of financial service systems, to avoid crises like the one in 2008. For instance, the Justice and Home Affairs Council, wants to bring Europe closer to citizens, by standardising inheritance rules, harmonising data protection laws, and seeking more efficient means to combat organised crime.

”These European challenges, are shared by Hungarian internal policy. This country can offer its experiences as a contribution to easing the troubles of the whole community. If the Hungarian Presidency manages to achieve visible results, it will greatly improve the country’s image, and enhance its chances to represent its interests within the community.”

Marton Hajdu - The spokesperson

How does a young economist become a spokesperson for the EU presidency in Brussels? Certainly after thorough preparations and a series of “aptitude tests”. Language skills are necessary but not sufficient. The applicant should also view the European Union as a worthy endeavor, be intrigued by its complexity and be able to effectively share information with others. Or, at least this has been the case with Márton Hajdú.
During and after university, he travelled the world. In the Netherlands he sorted vegetables and studied international trade. In Germany he packed washing powder and took a finance course. In Washington, D.C. he worked at a lobbying office and studied government relations. Finally, in 2005 he ended up at the European Commission, and it is from there that he was borrowed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the term of the Hungarian presidency.

„The EU may seem dull at school and in the news but it is really exciting behind the scenes. And it has a huge impact on Hungary”, Márton says. Even the largest European country is small in the face of global competition, so cooperation is important, otherwise we all fall behind. Besides, as a member state we have the chance to efficiently represent our interests, because „if you’re not at the table (where decisions are made), you are probably on the menu.”

In addition, integration improves Hungary’s chances to catch up quicker: „We don’t have to invent or work out everything by ourselves and we can also avoid previous failures”.

During its term of presidency, Hungary can show its contributions to the success of the common project. For six months, our job will be to set the course of negotiations and table innovative proposals in such a way that the other 26 member states realize that Hungary can achieve mutually satisfactory agreements.

This duty, however, takes more than “just” good negotiation performance; it also requires effective communication with both our partners and the public at large. This is the spokesperson’s key responsibility, which can improve Hungary’s reputation and hence accumulate moral and political capital. „I am convinced that this is a great opportunity for us all”, concludes the Brussels based spokesperson, who prefers to spend his scarce free time with his wife, three year old son and six month old daughter.

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