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Brussels to lift excessive deficit procedure

May 27th, 2013

A left wing daily claims that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is bound to win the sympathy of the voters whether Brussels waives the excessive deficit procedure or not. A pro-government daily suggests that the EU has run out of excuses to keep a punitive measure in place, which in any case had more to do with anger with a country that defies orthodoxy yet remains successful. A business daily focuses on the new taxes to be introduced to meet the deficit target, and maintains that the planned tax on commercials and advertising revenue guarantees further control over the commercial media.

In Népszabadság, Ervin Tamás suggests PM Orbán would do anything to win the battle against Barroso and the excessive deficit procedure, and is powerful enough at home to do so: “Many would envy a Prime Minister who simply asks what the new demands are and delivers what is requested the very next day, by introducing new taxes and packages”. The author interprets the Prime Minister’s tactics as a form of double communication: backing down so that Hungary can escape EU scrutiny, whilst sounding defiant and triumphant to his domestic audience. By focusing on the excessive deficit procedure and dismissing criticism directed at his governing style, Mr Orbán is bound to win the communication battle, he believes. With the announcement of new taxes on private companies – among them the commercial media – it has become less obvious who is threatening whom, Tamás says, and predicts that this time the EU will back down, and lift the sanctions.

Magyar Nemzet’s Zsuzsa Nagy Vajdat hinks “the EU has run out of arguments.” While it “hates Mr Orbán’s Hungary with its two thirds majority and the transformations carried out at the expense of multinational companies,” it cannot deny that last year’s deficit was 1.7%, that unemployment is falling, inflation is at an all-time low and real wages are on the rise. She compares these indices with those of core EU members and concludes that in the event that the excessive deficit procedure remains in force, the double standards applied to Hungary will threaten the very credibility of the EU. This is the “very last moment” for Brussels to acknowledge the performance of the Hungarian government, because – she concludes with an ominous warning – other, far more radical forces are on the rise.

In Világgazdaság, Ferenc Csaba paraphrases PM Orbán’s message to Brussels: if standard mathematics apply to Hungary, the excessive deficit procedure must be lifted. With the latest four new taxes just introduced, the Prime Minister is absolutely right, the columnist believes: the EU has no grounds not to lift the procedure. In fact, he continues, they have already gone too far by pushing through the last austerity package. On the other hand, the Ministry of National Resources is prone to miscalculations as well – the levy on financial transactions, for instance, only yielded half the expected amount by the end of April, he says, so it should come as no surprise that the government is raising the rate for this tax. As for the fourth tax, however, on advertising revenues, it is questionable whether the comparatively small revenue it is expected to yield justifies hitting the commercial media so hard – unless, he writes in a rather desperate tone, this is the real objective of the new tax.

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