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Hungary is a member, not a colony of the EU

March 31st, 2012

A right-wing columnist, implicitly criticizing the Prime Minister’s March 15th speech, warns against harsh anti-EU rhetoric, and welcomes the more pragmatic approach which the PM usually employs towards foreign investors.

No one who does their arithmetic can reasonably argue that Hungary is worse off with EU membership, Csaba Szajlai writes in Magyar Hírlap.

In a speech on the national holiday on March 15th,  Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary will not be a colony. His critics claimed that the anti-Western message was intended to allure radical right-wing supporters (see BudaPost March 16). Yet only a week later in Germany the PM said that “Hungary effectively belongs to the south German industrial area.”

Szajlai remarks that “narrow-minded and biased radical right wing groups alone” are unable to grasp that Hungary’s trade surplus with the EU in 2011 was 3,000 billion Forints. Without its exports to EU countries, Hungary would have been in recession.

In addition, foreign firms who invest in Hungary create jobs and boost the economy, Szajlai points out. Without the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing plant, which was opened on Thursday, the Hungarian economy would most probably have gone into decline in 2012. Taken all together, German companies operating in the country provide jobs for a total of one million Hungarians, Szajlai estimates.

One may regret the huge influence of German firms in the country, and the fact that Hungarian small and medium sized companies are sometimes not able to compete with them. But one must also respect the fact that Hungary would be much worse off without foreign investors, Szajlai concludes.

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