“Based on the experience of recent months, in the interests of shortening their supply chains German enterprises could be searching to an even greater extent for Central European opportunities, and accordingly could also be tightening their Hungarian relations”, Minister for Innovation and Technology László Palkovics said following an online meeting with German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier on 12 May 2020. The two ministers discussed the future of, and prospects for, economic cooperation between the two countries in light of the upcoming German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and reviewed progress relating to the affairs of the innovation working group set up by their two heads of government.

The countries of the Visegrád Group (V4) are Germany’s most important economic and trade partners, and last year’s total foreign trade flow of 300 billion euros exceeded the data for both German-Chinese and German-American trade flow by some fifty percent. The virus crisis is increasing the advantages afforded by Central and Eastern Europe: its geographical proximity and high competitiveness, in addition to the role it plays in German foreign trade. Peter Altmaier has previously called on several occasions for supplier diversification and the shortening of supply chains, stressing that some capacities most be brought back to Europe from Asia.

Mr. Palkovics highlighted the fact that planned cooperation within future-orientated sectors of industry is being determined by the activities of the innovation working group established in the initiative of the Hungarian Prime Minister and the German Chancellor. “The parties are searching for joint topics and projects embodied by coordinated measures and tender opportunities within the fields of enterprise development, energy, digitalisation, innovation, research and higher education, transport and mobility”, the Hungarian minister reminded the press. Although the coronavirus epidemic has temporarily made progress more difficult, the working group has been busy in recent months in the interests of finding concrete forms of cooperation, including with relation to quantum- and bio-technology, Industry 4.0, and even the utilisation of the capacities of the Szeged ELI-ALPS laser centre. The Minister welcomed the fact that the Germans are now also calling for a higher contribution within the 2021-2027 EU budget.

The expansion of bilateral relations is particularly timely in view of the fact that Germany will be taking over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the second half of 2020. Mr. Palkovics indicated that Hungary wishes to be a supportive and initiative partner to the Berlin government in the planning and implementation of community measures aimed at exiting the virus crisis, the rebooting of production processes, and restoring the unhindered functioning of the internal market.

(Ministry for Innovation and Technology / MTI)