In his opening remarks, Mr. Zupkó reminded the audience about the statistics according to which we are behind the EU average in several aspects, yet there have been improvements as well. An example for the latter is the low level of unemployment and the successes achieved in employment in recent years. Similarly, there has been a development in the life expectancy rates as well. The possible long-term problems include the low level of foreign language skills. He added that although a sort of antipathy towards the EU can be noticed at the national level, according to a survey 69 per cent of Hungarians regard themselves as EU citizens and 50 per cent of Hungarians are optimistic regarding the future of the EU. Nevertheless, Mr. Zupkó also said that many people view themselves as estranged from Brussels and the decision-making process there, even though we are a part of it through our elected politicians. He reminded that we have managed to significantly affect these decisions in the recent years.
According to the Representative of the European Commission to Hungary, the European Union is first and foremost a community of values and interests, as the majority of member states represent similar fundamental values. This is primarily due to their similar historical traditions, culture and way of thinking. Mr. Zupkó hinted that Hungary – being a country smaller in size – can display herself to a greater extent and can have greater influence on processes in the world as a member of a larger community than by herself. Hungary is also becoming more attractive for investments through the utilization of incoming regional development funds. Mr. Zupkó added that today Hungary is still one of Europe’s most open economies which is also important, as the nation’s economic success fundamentally depend on the volume of export.