Judit Varga, Minister of State of EU Relations

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was the guest of IBS Pair Club

We, in the Pair student’s club, have been wondering for a long time to invite a guest who currently holds a high position in a State Department. From our point of view, decision-making looks more exciting when the guest is actually in office. As we discussed a number of possible guests to invite, I managed to reach Mrs. Varga’s secretariat. Our email correspondence began at end of September, soon we agreed on the date, time and structure of the event. From the one hand it might be more engaging to invite someone who is currently in a high-level state position, on the other hand, due the nature of the constant representation of the state in the given field, it is also more challenging. This was clearly the case in our situation, as once, just before we would have started advertising the event in IBS, it had to be postponed as Mrs. Varga had an unpredictable obligation. Eventually, we managed to find the right time, and fortunately, nothing interfered our plans.

In a very direct and straightforward discussion, a number of different questions were addressed to the Minister of State of EU Relations during the moderated event. The first ones were related to her career, why she had chosen to come back to Hungary after a pleasant nine years in buzzing Brussels, she pointed out that it was the right time for her family to make the move back to their home, and this played a decisive role, as well as her patriotism. Afterwards, the roles, structure of her office were discussed, followed by the main topic, advocacy in the EU. Here she explained how lobbying works, whom and in what ways she needs to approach to influence a particular negotiation in order to have a favourable result for Hungary in a certain decision. 

An interesting analysis was mentioned to her which was made by Politico. According to it, €1.7 billion was spent on lobbying in order to influence the European Institutions in 2016. The countries that joined the EU before 2016 spent 95% (!) of the amount, while the countries that joined after 2004 (including Hungary) spent only 5% (!). To the question whether she sees this as a strategic mistake on the side of these countries, she stressed the importance of increasing the number, especially if these countries really wish to have a more efficient advocacy at EU level.

It was a great pleasure to welcome Judit Varga, we are happy that she accepted our invitation and managed to find time in her tight schedule. We plan and hope to be able to invite more state representatives of Hungary currently in office.

Árpád Csabuda