Analysis: The Visegrád Group can no longer be ignored

"The European Union can no longer afford to force major decisions against the will of the V4"

Under the revolving Hungarian presidency, the Visegrád Group (consisting of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) have had a successful season and European major powers pay attention to their positions, a survey highlights.

According to analysts asked by the Hungarian Foreign Policy and Trade Institute (KKI), the survey found that the European Union can no longer make decision which affect the V4.

Published by news portal origo.hu, Levente Magyar, deputy minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the European Union can no longer afford to force major decisions against the will of the V4.

The Hungarian presidency of the group was marked by last autumn's political difficulties in the Czech Republic (difficulties in forming a new government), a new head of government in Poland and a Slovak government crisis, said Márton Ugrósdy, director of the KKI.

"In this respect, the Hungarian presidency was a stroke of luck, because radical changes have not been required after the spring parliamentary elections," the report said. Viktor Orbán's Fidesz won its third consecutive election in April with a two-thirds majority.  

Ugrósdy also said that in most EU debates the V4 unity was maintained due to structural and historic reasons going beyond daily politics. "For the V4 countries EU membership is vital, but not primarily because of subsidies coming from Brussels, but the market and corporate relations with it and Germany foremost," Ugrósdy said.

One of the key successes during the Hungarian V4 presidency was the group's stance against double food quality standards in the EU, said Péter Dobrowiecki, analyst at the Antall József Knowledge Centre. He said the Hungarian presidency also made sure to harmonize the group's positions ahead of major EU coordinations.

KKI analyst Nikolett Garai said that the dynamics of V4 cooperation remain uninterrupted both at expert level and at the level of top leaders. She said this trend is a positive development given that the lack of a permanent supra-national institutional structure leaves cooperation dependant on individual governments' priorities. Garai said that while there are differences among the V4 member states' priorities and a joint position is not always readily identifiable, cooperation and reconciliation among the members has been strengthened during the Hungarian presidency.