Marton Nagy - Photo:

Nagy: EU competitiveness ‘could still be restored’

Marton Nagy, the economy minister, told the Conservative Action Conference (CPAC Hungary) now under way in Budapest that it is "not yet too late" to restore the competitiveness of the European Union, but warned that it required strategic thinking and "listening to the players of the economy". He added that the subject would be high on the agenda of Hungary's upcoming EU presidency.

While in 2010 Europe accounted for 22 percent of the global GDP, that ratio went down to 17 percent in 2023, the minister said, adding that it could further decrease to 15-16 percent in the near future. The number of European economies in the world’s largest 10 has gone down to 2 from 4 before and will further go down, to one, by 2070, he said, citing IMF and Goldman Sachs forecasts. The 100 largest companies in the world included 36 European businesses in 2010, a number that went down to 14 by this year and will further decrease to below 10 in the next few years, he said.

The EU faces many crises and “if the question is where we get the money from to restore competitiveness, the answer is nowhere,” Nagy said, adding that the cost of the digital and green transition could exceed 500 billion euros. In terms of top priorities, restoring competitiveness comes “right after the war in Ukraine and boosting the defence industry,” he said.

Similarly to several other countries, Hungary declines to support a fresh European Commission proposal to double or triple the 10-percent duty on Chinese electric car imports, the minister said. He said “such a protectionist measure would hinder competition, trigger deglobalisation and lead to the formation of blocs and trade wars instead of promoting connectivity”.

According to the Hungarian government, a transition to using electric cars should be accelerated, which requires a common EU strategy, Nagy said. “We believe that Europe’s competitiveness could be restored but not through ideologies or deadlines but through strategic thinking and involving market players,” he added.

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