In an interview with pro-government print daily Magyar Hírlap published Tuesday, Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga said Hungary could potentially join the Eurozone — that is, adopt the euro as its official currency — as early as the end of the decade. According to Varga, in order for this to happen, Hungary’s economy would need to consistently outperform itself and close the gap with more developed Eurozone economies.
Leading Fidesz government officials have on numerous occasions alluded to the preference of keeping the forint over switching to the euro, but Varga’s words do signal a divergence from this perspective.
“I really hope we will [one day] have the euro,” Varga said. “Fortunately, when that happens also depends on us. As it is well known, in 2002 we handed the economy over to MSZP [the Hungarian Socialist Party] with an understanding that Hungary would be able to join [the Eurozone] with Slovenia by 2007 at the latest. In 2003, the Medgyessy government boldly said that we would be paying with euros by January 1st, 2008. Nothing ever came of this, and by 2010 we could not even meet the conditions to join. But the Orbán government has now restored the opportunity for us to start talking about joining [the Eurozone] realistically again.”
The second and third Orbán governments have been at loggerheads with the European Commission over Hungary’s growing “democratic deficit,” even as Hungary accuses Brussels of being overly bureaucratic, undemocratic, and misguided, particularly with regard to EU policy on borders and migration.
The government’s position is that Hungary is a sovereign nation whose government has a clear mandate to do whatever it wants (having run in 2010 on a platform of “only Fidesz” and in 2014 of “more of the same”.-ed.), and that the EU has no business interfering in the internal affairs of individual member states.
Varga’s words appear to signal that he hopes for Hungary to be part of an ever closer Union.