Portfolio blogger

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Demonstration near to the National Museum in Budapest two days after the day of independence when - according to legend - the national poet of Hungary (Petőfi, born Petrovics) declamated the National song on the stairs of the Museum, Snowstorm on the roads (that's wha the demonstration was postponed), storms all over Europe and the U.S. around the fourth amendment (how classical this sounds) of the Basic Law of Hungary, The forint plunging in response to - not the nomination but the first measures of the new president of the Hungarian National Bank -. ANd the European Peoples Party invites Frigide Barjot (no typo) to perform before the press conference of Commission vice president Viviane Reding (who, by chance, belongs to the same grouping) ti express herself against the marriage of homosexuals which is just being admitted in France. These storms on the surface hide undercurrents which have more importance for the future. The European Parliament - including the majority of EPP MEP's votes against the compromise long term budget agreed between the member states (but fails to request an increase). Good news: a compulsory mid-term review with qualified majority voting which could mean that a minority of member states cannot stop the EU adjusting its budget to the - hopefully - favourable future economic conditions. Greater flexibility, real own resources are the two further demands and a fourth one, which is in fact an increase in the amount: settling the backlog between commitments (promises to pay) and payments, which grew every year as payment budgets were always lower that commitment budgets. In a time of continuous growth of the budget, this difference would cause no trouble as payments are also later than commitments and thus the increase automatically means that payments - coming partially from commitments in previous years - can be somewhat lower that commitments in any given year. But if the difference is bigger than covered by growth, or there is no growth, the situation aggravates. Meanwhile, a bail-out is agreed for Cyprus. 10bn EUR instead of 17bn, a further 6bn is to be covered by the depositors of Cypriot banks vie a tax on deposits which averages about 6,5%. The European Federalists Party and the blogger of Reuters are enraged. The Parliament did not have a say (well, the national Parliament of Cyprus will have, and Cypriots already staged a run on their banks), they complain. It must be admitted, it is an unorthodox move. But if we think about the methods other governments (whether bailed out by the EU or not) put their budgets right, it is a song. In Hungary, inflation is 6% per year - the same toll on the value of deposits, just to talk about us. Of course, this tax is just a one-off solution (or will it be annual? I doubt). But it soothes to some extent the "northern" citizens who are already very sour about "their money" bailing out "irresponsible" southern states. And, given the composition of Cyprus deposits, it may be well targeted to some who hid their fortunes there.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Youth guarantees

There are two European countries, Austria and Finland which guarantee, that if a young person is unemployed for four months, he/she should get a job, traineeship or re-training offer. This is basically different from the public work which is now the favourite job-creating tool of the Hungarian government. On proposal of László Andor , the commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, the new Multiannual Financial Framework will contain a new youth employment initiative (this was the only addition to the proposal of the Commission on the European Council meeting which approved the Council position on the MFF the 8th February (see criticism about the deal and its enthusiastic reception in a Hungarian article ). And these 6 bn euros can also be used to establish this guarantee as the Council agreed the 28th February (see here . It will be used in the regions where youth unemployment is the highest. The youth guarantee initiative also has a Twitter stream. According to estimates by Andor, the programme would cost 20 billion Euros in Europe. This would mean proportionally 50 billion HUF in Hungary. Thus roughly the amount which has been just taken from the universities or less than half of the interest difference between market financing and an IMF loan (by the most conservative estimates). Further information about the Council negotiations on the MFF is available here while the European Parliaments position can be followed here . A third-party report about the presentation of Mr Van Rompuy and the responses to it shows the main controversies.