The Rejuvenated Hungarian Countryside

Ever since its foundation, the Civil Unity Forum (Civil Összefogás Fórum) and Civil Union Public Benefit Foundation (Civil Összefogás Közhasznú Alapítvány), briefly CÖF-CÖKA has taken an active role in solving the social and economic problems faced by Hungary. CÖF-CÖKA has recently devoted large amounts of funds in Nógrád County to develop a Local Production Communities programme to help strengthen rural society and increase its income producing capability with the use of untapped, available capacities in agriculture. According to the plans, this county-level process will serve as a model for a social effect that will encompass the entire nation. It already directly involves several hundreds of families, with its indirect effects even more wide-ranging.

CÖF-CÖKA aims to develop a structured system that results in a tight, prosperous cooperation of agricultural integration and the members of the production chain by involving the civilian, state, and private sectors. In line with national agricultural policy, this system can serve to significantly empower the competitiveness of agricultural sectors while also contributing to improving the living standards and the standard of life of the local populace by bettering outlooks and income potential. The communities thus formed provide a foundation for effective utilization based on the cooperation of local resources by providing the coordinated and harmonized operation necessary for optimal utilization and resource management for the members of the production-manufacturing-end user chain.

In the course of the operation of the Local Production Communities, the involved bodies of the state sector participate by providing supervision. This, complemented by the productive role of the civil sector and the active work of the private sector (local families), is in itself capable of increasing capacities and providing for any missing functions. The social and economic aspects of rural agriculture will thus be renewed in an integrated manner.

The projects that make up the programme provide realistic opportunities for locals that take the form of actions with small resource requirements that effectively create value and jobs. They are built on the cooperation of the given community and on the utilization and development of existing resources with minimal resources.

There has never been an example for a similar close cooperation between civil, sate, and private sectors aimed at renewing Hungary’s rural agriculture. The objective CÖF-CÖKA has set for itself and for its communities is to revitalize the Hungarian countryside, to provide for the active operation of self-sufficient local communities, and to make high quality agricultural products a public treasure. These will form the basis of the future of agriculture.

If you would like to find out more about the Local Production Communities programme, please visit the Hungarian civilosszefogas.hu website or write to us in English at [email protected]

cof-cba csizmadia diosjeno

 

Hungary is Performing Better

Economic experts are surely still influenced by the negative headlines that were once used to describe the economic policies of the Orbán administration. During the Government’s first years, articles were mainly about near-bankruptcy. Rarely did they give any positive examples. Today, the situation has changed entirely. Even if there aren’t multitudes of international articles that praise Hungary’s economic performance, the figures speak for themselves. Hungary’s GDP is presently 15 % higher than when Orbán’s Government took over power six years ago.

According to the most recent GDP data, the Hungarian economy grew by 2.6 % in the second quarter, which significantly surpassed even the analysts’ forecasts of 2.2 %. It should also be noted that after the GDP results of the first quarter, which is mainly attributable to one-off items and ended up causing disappointment to many members of the government, the amount of EU funds provided in the second quarter was also less than expected. However, as we will soon see, that is not the only thing driving the economic motor. This result is exceptional on an EU level as well (the second highest), and almost all economic sectors have contributed. In light of the encouraging signs, the nation’s performance can be considered maintainable, which puts the government’s target of 2.5 % growth within reach.

This turnaround that leads to a stable economic growth of about 3 % is based on several factors. Industrial production is growing stronger, especially in vehicle production and the related segments. Significant growth is also experienced in the service sector, which is one of the results of the increase in real wages. The strong increase in disposable income and near-zero inflation have a beneficial effect on demand, which is apparent in both the retail and the tourism sectors. The drop in the unemployment rate and the increased level of employment has led to public consumption becoming an increasingly important factor. Last but not least, the export performance of domestic companies has led to a further increase in Hungary’s foreign trade balance, which contributes to stimulating economic growth through net exports.

In summary, it can be established that after many difficult years, Hungary is once again on the path of stable growth. It is very important to maintain our momentum: an economic recovery plan has to be developed that ensures GDP growth levels of 3-5 % can be sustained. Thanks to these real economy processes, the state of the general government sector is becoming increasingly stable. This strengthens Hungary’s economic position by reducing deficit and state debt.

CÖF-CÖKA Legal Cabinet

On the Hungarian National Trading House: Let’s Dare To Be Big

It seems that the motto of the melancholy opposition in these past years has been “Let’s Dare To Be Small!” It doesn’t matter how they view Hungary’s performance, they always manage to find fault. They then hurry to shine the spotlight on it. The list of the problems discovered by the opposition is long (though most are quite polarized) and are only suitable for grabbing the media’s attention for a minute or two. However, it is worth examining their latest criticism, directed at the 2015 results of the Hungarian National Trading House (MNKH). Before we discuss the (biased) evaluation of the performance of the MNKH, I would like to provide some information on Hungary’s exports, which the institution aims to improve. Historical data prove that until 2012, Hungary’s foreign trade balance remained positive primarily through the consistent decrease in the amount of imports. In addition, the low rate of consumption was one of the by-products of the incorrect management of the recession. However, the situation showed a dramatic change after this time: thanks to the increase of the export market share and advantageous trade figures, Hungary’s foreign trade balance was almost 10 % of the GDP. Market share decreased significantly (by 23 %) between 2008 and 2012, after which it grew by almost 8 % almost every year. The volume of Hungary’s exports has increased by 30 % since 2010 and exceeded EUR 100 bn last year. The fact that Hungary is performing better is (also) attributable to Hungary’s carefully chosen foreign trade policy. The Government correctly identified the fact that besides an export market that is based on more secure foundations, new markets also have to be discovered. One of the elements of this policy is opening up towards the east and the south. The MNKH, established three years ago, is one of the tools for doing so. And, contrary to the opinions of some experts from the opposition, it was not conceived by the devil. Similar institutions operate successfully in the USA and in many European Union Member States (such as Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, etc.). It should be noted that the success of institutions such as the MNKH can be measured not only according to the results of their balance sheets, but also in the successfulness of the partner companies that utilize their services.

The amount of HUF 6 bn of losses, which was touted by the press and was presented in a biased manner, can seem like a large sum. But if we also take into consideration that the partner companies of MNKH, which are now present in 60 countries, realized export revenues of HUF 895 bn in 2015 (with an annual increase of HUF 135 bn), the distorted negative result is dwarfed. In addition, it should also be noted that the trading house network, which almost doubled in size, was one of the elements that caused the greatest increase in last year’s costs. These houses and offices help create a platform for successful business that would like to export their goods or services. Simply put, the cost was incurred by the Trading House while the increase in revenue and profits was realized by small and medium-sized enterprises, which indirectly strengthens Hungary’s economy. In summary, it can be established that any approach used by the opposition to stay afloat, no matter how derisive and malevolent, fades into nothing as soon as we see the full picture. It would be naive to assume that any players involved in foreign trade that open up to a new market would see positive results from one day to the next. The index we should be looking at is the one that shows that Hungary’s exports are continuously breaking records, and we are all reaping the benefits. Let’s Dare To Be Big!

CÖF-CÖKA Legal Cabinet

 

Petition for the dismissal of the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker

Cecilia Wikström
Chair of the Petitions Committee
European Parliament
Rue Wiertz
B-1047 BRUSSELS

Subject: Petition for the dismissal of the European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker

Honourable Madam Chair!

The undersigned Civil Union Public Benefit Foundation as a civilian organisation with independent legal personality registered in Hungary makes the following petition request to the Petition Committee of the European Parliament.

Jean-Claude Juncker has been leading the European Commission, the prominent governing body of the European Union since November 2014. The past more than one and a half years clearly indicate President Juncker’s incompetence: this sad period coincides with the crisis of the European Union that has never been seen before, the – mistreated – migrant crisis that aggravated the already existing political and economic difficulties and the United Kingdom leaving the community.

The failure has several causes. One is President Juncker’s non-convincing former political career (many scandals or disputable decisions characterise his time in office as the Prime Minister or Minister of Finance of his country), another is his weightless personality (this was reflected unfortunately in the campaign against Brexit), his disputable behaviour and his complete lack of diplomatic sense and self-criticism. And the gravest of all: he does not have answers to the new challenges, because he does not have a concept and clear vision of the future Europe. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly dissatisfied with President Juncker’s achievements as well.

President Juncker embodies the European Commission and through it the European Union as well. In a democracy, if a leader can not show up results, they should be dismissed from their position; in the past two years the unity of the European Union has split and he watches the consequences idly and without solutions. The concept of the two-speed Europe has strengthened during his presidency, which was supported by his complete lack of empathy towards the Eastern and Central European member states. His presidency brought about the failure of the Schengen and Dublin systems and the emergence of the concept of the mini Schengen. During Juncker’s presidency the reform of the European Union has come to a standstill and the bureaucracy at Brussels has grown enormously and has separated from the real, everyday problems of the citizens of the Union. The European Commission led by President Juncker reacted to the burning questions of the European Union late and incorrectly many times, especially to the emergency situation caused by the migrant crisis. President Juncker has gone so far that for him the wides-scale settling of illiterate Syrian migrants is more important than settling of the situation of several million young Europeans seeking for jobs.

Through his blindfolded leadership, his disregard for the interests of European citizens and his immeasurable insensibility to the problems of Eastern Europeans the Chair of the European Commission already endangers the future of the European Union and even of Europe.

Leading the decision-making and executive body of the European Union requires a competent, determined politician who has substantial concepts and whose conduct does not render the office and community embodied by him seem weightless.

According to Article 17(8) on the Functioning of the European Union the Commission is responsible as a body to the European Parliament (and only to it!). According to the contents of Article 234 on the Functioning of the European Union the European Parliament may adopt a censure initiative against the Commission. If the censure initiative is adopted, the members of the Commission shall resign as a body and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the Union shall also resign from his membership in the Commission. That is, the Union law ex post prescribes collective responsibility, while in the case of appointing a President the President of the Commission is recommended by the European Council to the European Parliament in accordance with Article 17 (7) (and the personal composition of the Commission is formed in agreement with the already elected President).

Considering the above we request the European Parliament to investigate the responsibility of Jean-Claude Juncker and the Commission led by him for the amputation that happened to the community of the European Union through Brexit and by accepting the motion of censure remove the Juncker Committee and bring an end to the Juncker era that brought degrading failures to Europe.

We believe that the Petition Committee of the European Parliament as a responsible body of the highest legislative institute that stands for the direct democracy in the European Union gives favourable consideration to our petition.

We have contacted the citizens and started collecting signatures for the mass support of our petition.

Budapest, 7th July 2016

 

Yours faithfully:

Dr. László Csizmadia
Chair of the Board of Trustees
on behalf of
Civil Union Public Benefit Foundation

 

Welcome to the English language home page of Civil Union.

Civil Union is a Hungarian public benefit foundation, an NGO, registered in 2009. Our mission is the communal representation, and the protection of the interests of the electorate. We do so by helping to maintain public discourse about key issues of public interest and by contributing through our own means to maintaining a dialogue between the electorate and the political leadership, as highlighted by our motto: „Nihil de nobis, sine nobis”, that is, „Nothing about us without us”.

Our current top priority is the handling of the migration issue, which is crucial for Hungary, as well as the entirety of the European Union. We disagree with the forced settlement of migrants and we call for the reforms of the institutions of the European Union.

Today the EU as a whole, along with all its member states individually face major challenges. Economic and social troubles are aggravated by a moral crisis that stems from a loss of identity. It is in this vulnerable state that the migration crisis has stricken Europe. The leadership of the European Commission and of some member states have completely mismanaged this crisis. Their response is irreconcilable with the will and the interest of the electorate. Through their decisions, they have undermined peace, security, and the opportunity to preserve the cultural heritage of Europe. In our view, this highlights an increasing democratic deficit in the European Union.

On the one hand a fundamental shortcoming of the EU is that unelected officials make irredeemable decisions on crucial matters, without the participation of the citizens of the Union, without seeking and respecting their opinion. On the other hand some of the political leaders of the Union choose to ignore the will  of the electorate.

Civil Union has taken several steps to draw the attention to the democratic deficit, and to the prevailing exclusion of the electorate that underlies the mismanagement of the current dangerous situation. We have sent open letters to the heads of states and heads of governments of EU members. This July, we submitted a petition calling for the dismissal of Jean-Claude Juncker and of the European Commission he leads.

The next foreseeable milestone for the Civil Union will be the referendum in Hungary scheduled for October 2nd, 2016, where the Hungarian electorate will be the first in the EU to have the opportunity to decide on whether they accept or reject the forced settlement of migrants in the country.

Earlier this year the Civil Union conducted a nationwide roadshow to gain a thorough understanding of the questions and opinions of the electorate. Now we urge the electorate to take part in the referendum, and we participate in the information campaign to enable the electorate to make an informed decision.

We will keep you informed about our efforts and experiences on this website.

On our website we are going to publish documents of our organization that might be of interest which could be utilized by clicking on the Civil Union’s links.

In our „News” column, you can find our own information materials and news. In the „Food for Thought” section we publish analyses and essays of experts of economic, social, security policy and other topics. In the column titled „From Our Partners”, we share writings by organizations outside Hungary who work in alliance with the Civil Union.

You are welcome to share your thoughts and insights with us by clicking on „Contact” on the menu.

We hope you find our page useful.

OPEN LETTER

Attention Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission

OPEN LETTER

Dear Mr. President,

Decisive majority of the European citizens watches with despair the impotence of the responsible organisations of the Union as regards the migrant affair. People believe that the measures necessary for the solution of the exodus are definitely obvious.

  • Erection of the technical barriers at the Greek borders with the cooperation of the member states of the Union.
  • Through responsible actions of the great powers sustainable life circumstance should be created at the starting points of the exodus thereby ensuring a possibility for the economic migrants to return.
  • On the expenses of the designated funds allocated by the EU, the maintenance of the refugee camps in Turkey should temporarily and appropriately financed.
  • The quote system for the obligatory acceptance of refugees, which was approved by the interior ministers of the Union should be deemed as null and void.

It could result in the violation of fundamental human rights if 160,000 persons as specified in the quote would be selected with non-transparent, unknown method in some subjective manner and the eventual rightful interests of the rest of the refugees would be neglected. School qualifications or useful professional skills may not be decisive. Double standards poison the criteria scheme of constitutionality.

In our petition written last week to president Martin Schulz we have already pointed out the problematic nature of the obligatory quota scheme which violates international law and the legal rules of the Union. (https://civilosszefogas.hu/peticio-martin-schulz-urnak/).

We have elected our Union leaders in order that they would guarantee the security of the European people and a sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. One week ago by way of our letter addressed to the prime ministers of 28 countries of the Union, we asked the leaders to ask the opinion of their citizens regarding the migrant affair, through referendum or other form of national consultation (https://civilosszefogas.hu/level-az-europai-unio-tagallamai-miniszterelnokeinek/). Aggregated opinions might show the way to measures that the leaders of the countries should follow.

Dear Mr. President,

Your are burdened with severe responsibility, sooner or later account should be given regarding the efficiency of decisions to be passed on Sunday.

CÖF-CÖKA, a significant organisation of civil people in Hungary is prepared for organising an international march for peace by car to Brussels following the eventually unexpected ineffectiveness of the meeting.

For the time being, however, we have confidence in the acumen of the prime ministers of our common Europe and finally we wish successful work.

Leadership of CÖF-CÖKA