If I want to talk about what life looked like before the European Union, I can’t help thinking that it was such short period of time, there is no real experience.
In 1989, communism fell and Hungary became an independent country. Elections were held and then shortly after, in about maybe 15 years, precisely on first of May 2004 Hungary joined the European Union. It means that roughly for 15 years we enjoyed so-called independence.
The biggest problem with it, is that we were not used to independence.
It means that after 40 years of communism we needed a lot of time to find ourselves and we still didn’t finish that process. A lot of issues we still have to deal with today, are the result of that previous communist period.
It doesn’t mean that everything was bad during that era and certainly the idea of communism is great. Hungary was the best student of all union states – if we think of that as a classroom, while today Hungary is one of the worst students in capitalist Europe.
So, from this perspective only, one could conclude that joining to the European Union was a mistake for Hungary, but there are things that cannot be overlooked.
The number one advantage of Hungary joining the EU is that we have open borders so if I get in my car and wish to drive to Norway, or France, or Spain, nobody checks me up at any border. Just in the United States – terms and conditions apply. 🙂
Hungary joined to the EU for 2 reasons. Reason № 1 is that we wanted to be a part of, and protected by the large community of Europe, especially when it comes to the currency of Euro which we have yet to require, simply because our economy is not good enough for it. The second reason was that the European Union promised to aid countries whose economy was in ruins and after the communist era we didn’t do a very good job restoring it and we still had a lot of war debt to pay back.
And still to this day, the amount we owe to Western countries because of the Second World War is more than 90% of our GDP. It will take a long time for us to pay back everything.
After joining, the EU delivered what was promised and Hungary started to receive aid to help our economy. This presented a great opportunity for a couple of individuals to steal a lot of this aid. So even though roads were built and infrastructure was being refurbished, most of the money went to these individuals.
Only in 2015, the EU realized that this is not a good thing and they have to pay attention to these little countries such as Hungary and they started to give penalties.
From the European Union’s point of view, it is okay, not great, but okay.
There are rumors that come to life with every punishment Hungary receives considering whether we could be kicked out of the EU or not. This raises the question what would happen in Hungary if we would be be kicked out of the EU. As always, I can only talk about my opinion as an ordinary citizen of this country.
From my perspective, the way I see things is, that it would mean the end of Hungary in a financial way. If I think about the reasons and advantages of why we joined to the European Union, we could lose almost everything.
We have cheap labor and a lot of Western companies take advantage of this but if it was harder to come to Hungary for business then they would chose other countries that are part of the EU. And that would mean that most of Hungary’s income would disappear overnight.
If we were kicked out from NATO too, then every other country could do whatever they want to do with us. We would be unprotected. Military service is not mandatory in Hungary anymore, still we have a small army. And when I say small, I think I should say tiny or even tinier than that. It is not enough to even begin to retaliate if anyone attacked us.
So leaving the European Union and going to the opposite direction, which our government often talks about, is not the wisest decision in a history of decision.
European countries are way to old to lose the national identity even if the EU became the United States of Europe. There is too much history to remember. And small countries such as Hungary could take advantage of a situation like this.
To conclude this article, I would say that if we had to choose between the EU path and the opposite direction, we would definitely have to choose the path of the EU whether we like it or not, simply because we are a small country.
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