The common German-Hungarian economic success is in danger, the head of the Eastern European Economic Relations Commissionan association of German economic players in Eastern European markets, said Monday in Berlin at a German-Hungarian economic forum on the occasion of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Berlin.
Speaking at the forum, which was also attended by the Hungarian Prime Minister, Philipp Haussmann stressed that relations between the two countries are characterized by a strong partnership for mutual benefit and that it is “good and important” that the economy Hungarian society is changing, as shown by significant investments in electric mobility, autonomous driving and other new technologies.
However, he said that German companies operating in Hungary in certain sectors that the government considers strategic are facing difficulties. These sectors include telecommunications, building materials, waste treatment, banking and insurance services and, more recently, retail trade.
In these sectors, the government wants to see the emergence of “national champions” – the strongest Hungarian companies in their markets – which is a legitimate objective.
However, a growing number of German companies involved have a “reasonable suspicion” that they are “unwelcome”.
Among their difficulties are special taxes specific to the industry, and they believe that the procedures for issuing permits and awarding public contracts are opaque and that they do not have “equitable access to justice”, a he added.
All this leads to uncertainty and endangers the German-Hungarian “joint success”, said Philipp Haußmann, stressing that a liberal economic order and the commitment of German companies depend on investment security, fair public procurement and rule of law frameworks.
He also said that German economic players want a quick deal on EU subsidies and stressed that German companies unconditionally support sanctions against Russia for its war on Ukraine.
In a tweet, Viktor Orbán said he had pledged his support to representatives of German companies operating in Hungary.
“We may have disagreements from time to time, but not as much as with their own government back home.”
During the business forum, Orbán underlined the predictability of Hungarian economic policy and pointed out that his government had already reached agreements with major German companies in the fields of telecommunications, digitalization and the transition to green energy.
The unconditional support for the sanctions against Russia is put into perspective by the fact that the Committee on Economic Relations for Eastern Europe is currently carrying out a survey on the impact of the sanctions among its members. The results are still unknown because the investigation does not end until Wednesday.
Complaints about shortcomings in the awarding of public contracts and weak rule of law frameworks sound like echoes of the European Parliament’s latest report, curiously from a business lobbyist who does not represent the interests of a government but those of German entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe. In any case, the results of the investigation into the effects of the sanctions carried out by his organization could put into perspective the real difficulties facing German companies.
Originally published on our sister site, Ungarn Heute
Feature photo: Philipp Haussmann, German Embassy in Warsaw Facebook