The significance of the Visegrád countries and Central and Eastern Europe in a wider sense is on the increase; the region continues to remain the European Union’s engine where economic growth is exceeding the EU’s average on a long-term basis, Gábor Gion, Minister of State for Finances of the Ministry of Finance stressed at a business forum held in Krynica Zdrój in Poland.

Hungary is making an outstanding contribution to the strengthening of Europe’s competitiveness; last year the Hungarian economy grew by 4.9 per cent, and in the second quarter of this year, with a 5.2 per cent expansion rate, we achieved the best result in the EU, the Minister of State added. The goal of the government is to protect the results achieved in the economy, and this is why it has launched an economy protection action plan which, among others, sets out to reduce the taxes on live work force.

Evaluating the outstanding performance of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, Mr Gion said there is increasing evidence that the region has successfully integrated into the European value chains, forming an important part thereof. He mentioned as an example the fact that this year the volume of trade between the V4 and Germany has by far exceeded the performance of Italy and France, despite the fact that the populations of the latter two states are double the population of the countries of the Visegrád group.

What could Europe and the world learn from the region’s economic history? Mr Gion asked, taking the view that today Europe’s most important task is to strengthen its competitiveness. He said the EU must be open to new solutions, and should use the tested and proven practices of successful Member States.

Comparing the state of the Hungarian economy in 2010 with that of today, the Minister of State highlighted that nine years ago Hungary had the lowest employment rate in Europe as after the fall of communism many people lost their jobs and failed to find new ones. By developing a workfare society and implementing a number of measures designed to boost the economy, the Hungarian government has achieved that the number of people in employment has increased by more than eight hundred thousand, and the level of unemployment in Hungary is one of the lowest in the EU.

The structure of Hungarian economic growth has become sustainable in the long run, the Minister of State added, mentioning that the sovereign debt is on the decrease, while household savings are on the increase, and both Hungary’s current payment balance and external financing capacity are positive.

The Krynica Economic Forum held for the 29th time this year is one of the most important opinion making events of the Central and Eastern European region where every year the region’s key economic, political and social leaders, business managers and experts gather together to discuss current problems.

(Ministry of Finance/MTI)