Event: Unpacking CEE Economic Recovery Plans: Hungary and Poland

A discussion with Zoltan Pogatsa and Filip Konopczyński Exclusive for Subscribers

8 June 2021

A subscribers-only conversation on Polish and Hungarian economic recovery and resilience plans for the post-COVID era.

While the recovery plans submitted by EU countries are currently under the European Commission’s review, we took a closer look at Hungary and Poland’s cases.

Some of the main quotes from the discussion:

What is so controversial about the recovery plan in Hungary is the way the government was going to use most of the funds. The loan part became controversial because the government was going to spend most of it on higher education. In preparation for that, they privatized the majority of Hungarian higher education and nominally it is called handing it over to foundations but behind them are private entities like banks and oil companies. – Zoltan Pogatsa

For a long time, there has been a goal set to reduce the indebtedness of the country. The Hungarian government was going towards the target until the COVID pandemic. I would argue that the government is correct in assessing that we do not need the loan. But then it is not coherent when the government is taking the loans from China and Russia with less favourable conditions than the EU’s loan. – Zoltan Pogatsa

Privatisation of the education sector and the health sector runs contrary to what Fidesz promised before coming to power. – Zoltan Pogatsa

Polish controversies surrounding the recovery plan were mainly of a political nature. The government needed the vote from the opposition to get the plan passed. – Filip Konopczyński

The political landscape before the vote for the plan was problematic as at least 2 of the main allies were signalling the intention of not supporting it. The government did not have the vote in order to pass it but the society was overwhelmingly in favour of it. – Filip Konopczyński

The economic plan that the government proposed does not differ from the previous plans of the government so it is difficult to come up with strong criticism for the plan since it’s been worked on alongside the EU Commission for quite some time. Most of the programs introduced within the national recovery plan are just the continuation of policies introduced over the last 5 years. That is why the controversies did not touch the contents of the legislation. – Filip Konopczyński

The Hungarian political scene is extremely stable. The party structure has been frozen for almost a decade with very minor shifts so this recovery plan has almost no effect on political dynamics. – Zoltan Pogatsa

Our speakers:

  • Zoltan Pogatsa – International political economist, Faculty of Economics at the University of Western Hungary. Expert on topics of development, the economics and politics of European integration, as well as issues related to Central Europe and the Balkans.
  • Filip Konopczyński – Research Fellow, Visegrad Insight. Social researcher and market analyst, co-founder of Kalecki Foundation, an independent think tank focused on sustainable economic and environmental development.


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