What is the Hungarian position in European politics?


Attila Agh

To person

Dr. rer. pol., born 1941; Professor at the Institute for Political Science of the Corvinus University Budapest, Közraktár u. 4 - 6, 1093 Budapest / Hungary.
Email: [email protected]

Despite recent transition difficulties, Hungary's performance is quite good in comparison with the EU. Enthusiasm for the EU outweighs pessimism, especially in the global economic crisis.


In 2004 Hungary joined the European Union (EU); the structural adjustment to the working methods in the EU has been successfully completed. Nonetheless, Hungary found itself in an exceptional situation in the second half of this decade, namely a crisis that was temporary but lasted for several years. The current crisis was caused by the coincidence of various factors, which were brought about on the one hand by the short-term requirements of EU accession and the long-term effects of system change, and on the other hand as a consequence of the global financial crisis. Thus, the post-accession crisis was basically triggered by the double pressure of the EU requirements and the domestic problems, i.e. by the requirements in the course of the ongoing reform efforts within the EU - including the envisaged accession to the euro zone - and by the lack of social consolidation, which is a terrifying reform fatigue has caused.

Unfortunately, the EU post-accession conditions overlapped with the short-term effects of the slowdown in the Hungarian economic cycle and also with the long-term effects of reform fatigue, which in turn had been caused by the high hopes for social consolidation after twenty years of constant change and job insecurity. The global financial crisis occurred at a time when Hungary was already in a difficult financial situation, but it was overcome within a few months, by the end of 2008; the difficulties of the economic and social crisis that followed persist. On April 14, 2009, a new government started work.

In Hungary, as in the other new member states, the post-accession crisis shows its own country specifics, in which short and long-term processes have to be clearly distinguished from one another. The crisis needs to be fully described, but should not be generalized to a historical dimension, as its overcoming can be foreseen as soon as the current global crisis allows.

In the following I will discuss the effects of the transition crisis in Hungary, but at the same time I will also deal with the long-term trends to make it clear that this snapshot of Hungary only describes the current turbulence, not the entire process of democratization and Europeanization. For a number of years there has been a bad mood in Hungary, "malaise", but Hungarians are still enthusiastic about democratization and Europeanization in the long term. Hungarian attitudes towards EU membership can only be understood in the current national context.