Central European countries in the European Union can offer an example to slower-growing member states on ways to step up economic growth while creating jobs and reducing the public debt, Economy Minister Mihály Varga said.Varga told MTI that he had participated in an economic conference dubbed Tatra Summit held in Štrbské pleso (Csorbato), in northern Slovakia, where he outlined the “Hungarian model” and talked about the European budget after 2020 at a panel discussion. The transformation of the tax system, the policy of reducing taxes and the system of family allowances coupled with a home construction scheme have all contributed to wage growth in Hungary without damaging competitiveness, Varga said.
Unlike after 2010, when consolidation was necessary in order to prepare the ground for economic growth, Hungary is currently in a phase in which it can focus on competitiveness, he said. Hungary aims to be among the most competitive countries of Europe, and its government wants to achieve this by investing in education, transforming the training system, offering targeted support for digitalisation, research and development, and industry, while improving the business environment and cutting red tape.
Representatives of Central European countries attending the panel were in agreement that EU resources should be distributed more proportionately, Varga said. Fully 90% of the beneficiaries of the fund set up by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, which has financed investment projects, are the “old” EU member states, he added.
This situation must change promptly, and a good solution would be to set up a new fund for developing investments in countries that joined in 2004 and 2007, he said. More is needed to help countries that joined the EU more recently to close the gap with their wealthier peers, he added.
“What we expect from Brussels is not to withdraw certain resources or force us to use national resources, but to enable convergence and the EU to act as a united community in the global economic space,” he added.
Concerning the distribution of resources after 2020, he expressed hope that the Visegrad Group countries would have a joint proposal for the debate to start from May next year, Varga said. The conference offered a good opportunity to talk about this issue, too, he added.