Almost 30 percent of Hungarian troops on foreign missions, currently around 200 of them, are serving with EU-led operations, as shown by a summary of the Ministry of Defence, which says that since the EU accession, Hungary has been playing an active role in EU crisis management missions as well and the EU membership also helps the development of the Hungarian Defence Forces’ capabilities.

Prepared at the request of Hungarian News Agency MTI, the report says that the European Union (EU) –which is currently leading around 10 civilian missions and five military operations – has become an important actor in international crisis management over the last decade. With the EU membership, Hungary and the Hungarian Defence Forces have become part of the EU common security and defence policy (CSDP).

Of the EU-led missions and operations, it is the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina to which the Hungarian Defence Forces contribute the most troops, who are helping to maintain a safe and secure environment in the Western Balkans. Besides, during the last ten years, Hungarian soldiers served with several African Union-led crisis response operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Mali and Somalia as well.

In the year of Hungary’s accession to the EU, the European Defence Agency (EDA) was established with the aim of supporting the development of military crisis management capabilities in the member states. Since then, Hungary has participated in several EDA programmes and projects, which have contributed to the development of the Hungarian Defence Forces’ capabilities. Among these were a helicopter training programme (HTP), a Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) project and a European Air Transport Fleet (EATF).

The Hungarian Defence Forces have had rapid reaction forces – so-called battle groups – since 2004. Following the EU accession, Hungary first contributed in 2007 – and then in 2012 – to a battle group drawn from the Italy-led Multinational Land Force. In addition, it is currently  preparing to join an EU Battle Group to be set up by the Visegrád Four (V4) countries (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia), which will operate as a stand-by unit in the first half of 2016. Hungary contributes altogether 700 personnel to this battle group. Afterward, in the first half of 2017, it will make a significant contribution to another Italy-led EU battle group, which is to be formed within the defence cooperation initiative (DECI).