Natural resources, energy and environment
Hungary’s most important natural resource is its fertile soil. Lignite is available in larger quantities, but the quality varies and its use has decreased in recent years. There are small oil and natural gas reserves. The country also has large resources of bauxite and smaller reserves of manganese, uranium and iron.
In the middle of the 2010s it was decided that a Russian company would expand the nuclear power plant in Paks (see Foreign Policy and Defense). Electricity production in Hungary in 2015 came to 52 percent from nuclear power, 17 percent from natural gas, 20 percent from coal and 11 percent from renewable energy sources. Electricity is also imported from mainly Slovakia. The two reactors to be built in Paks have been delayed, but the government’s ambition is that in the long term nuclear power will account for 60 percent of electricity generation.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Hungary with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
The use of renewable energy types as biofuels has increased, but is still considerably lower than the EU average. Natural gas, like oil, is mainly imported from Russia, but in 2018 oil discoveries were made in southwestern Hungary, which gave the opportunity to reduce dependence on imports.
Hungary also has hot springs, and geothermal energy (geothermal heat), which is utilized, among other things, in agriculture and for the heating of housing. Most households use gas as their primary source of heating.
The gas and electricity markets were deregulated in 2008. The price of gas for households was kept down for a long time with the help of government subsidies, but in 2006 these were abandoned as part of an economic austerity package. However, the right-wing government under Viktor Orbán has again introduced a price control on energy. In 2013, Orbán ordered “the greedy” energy companies to cut household costs by 20 percent in two installments. In February 2014, during the run-up to the upcoming elections, Parliament decided on new price reductions for gas, district heating and electricity that would be implemented in stages during the year.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, HU stands for Hungary. Visit itypeusa for more information about Hungary.
Hungary has made many improvements to the environment polluted in many places, which the country inherited from the communist era. Air pollution has been steadily declining since 1998 and conditions have been considered good for Hungary to keep its international emission reduction commitments. The country has revised its environmental legislation to comply with EU directives, but as contacts with the EU deteriorated, the Hungarian government has also (like Poland) announced that it does not expect to meet the emission reduction targets set by the EU by 2030.
In 2010, Hungary suffered its worst environmental disaster to date, when almost a million cubic meters of corrosive red sludge from an aluminum plant flowed from a broken pond. The poison mud rinsed like a two-meter high wave over a number of villages, killing several people and many livestock and causing severe burns (see Calendar).
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
2,433 kilograms of oil equivalent (2015)
Electricity consumption per person
3966 kWh, kWh (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
42 086 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
4.3 tons (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
15.6 percent (2015)
Protests against right-wing extremists
Thousands of people are demonstrating outside the Budapest Parliament against the right-wing party Jobbik, whose MP Márton Gyöngyösi urged the government to draw up lists of parliament and government Jews, which he says constitute a national security risk. Jewish leaders have described the statement as an echo of the Holocaust, and the government has been forced to condemn it.
Foreign ownership of agricultural land is prohibited
Parliament adopts a constitutional amendment prohibiting foreign ownership of Hungarian agricultural land; The government says the law is in place to secure the future of family farming. The EU had given Hungary a deadline by 2014 to lift previous restrictions on the ownership of agricultural land under threat of withdrawn financial aid.
Hungary is dotted by the European Court of Justice
The European Court of Justice rejects Hungary’s dramatically lowered retirement age for judges and prosecutors from age 70 to 62 as age discrimination.
New mid-term electoral union
Former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai forms a new, mid-term electoral union called Together 2014 (Együtt 2014). The union includes, among other things, a freedom of the press movement that emerged as a Facebook group and a trade union organization that has modeled Polish Solidarity.
Right-wing extremists threaten Roma
With continued economic downturn and an unemployment rate of 11 percent, tensions between Hungarians and Roma increase. Jobbik holds a meeting in Budapest and talks about zero tolerance of Roma’s “crime and parasitism”. Party leader Gábor Vona explains that all Roma who do not adapt must leave Hungary.
Suspected war criminal is arrested
97-year-old László Csizsik-Csatáry is arrested in Budapest on suspicion of war crimes during the Nazi era. He is accused of participating in the deportation of over 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz and has been ranked highest on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s international list of wanted criminals from the Holocaust.
Loan negotiations are resumed
The government resumes the previously suspended negotiations with the EU and the IMF on aid loans.
Fidesz politician new president
Parliament elects Fidesz politician János Áder as new president. Áder has, among other things, been President and EU parliamentarian.
The President resigns
President Pál Schmitt announces that he will resign after being denied his doctorate due to a plagiarism scandal. According to Semmelweis University of Budapest, the two-time Olympic gold medalist in fencing has copied large parts of his dissertation on the Olympics from two other texts. Schmitt denies the charges, but the pressure on him to resign is too great. President László Kövér becomes President.
Hungary faces the right to forced retirement
The European Commission draws Hungary before the European Court of Justice for the forced retirement of 236 judges and interventions that diminished the independence of the Data Protection Ombudsman.
Criticism from the Council of Europe
The Council of Europe criticizes Hungary on points concerning the independence of the judiciary and freedom of religion.
The Malév airline goes bankrupt
Hungary’s economic crisis is underlined when the state-run airline Malév goes bankrupt after running out of money.
Mass protest against new ground
Nearly 100,000 people are demonstrating in Budapest against the new constitution that came into force at the New Year. Democracy is considered threatened, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is accused of leading Hungary against a one-party state and dictatorship. At the same time, the Hungarian currency is falling in value and the interest rate on the country’s government bonds is rising to record levels, above 10 percent.
EU’s highest VAT
The highest VAT is raised from 25 percent to 27 percent, the highest level in the EU.
EU process against Hungary
The European Commission decides to initiate a lawsuit against Hungary, which could lead to the country being deprived of the right to vote in the Union. Hungary is considered to violate EU law with regard to the independence of the Central Bank and the Data Inspectorate and by the fact that judges must be retired at age 62 instead of 70. At the same time, regional aid to Hungary is risked due to the budget deficit. Prime Minister Orbán appears before the European Parliament and declares that his government is prepared for concessions to EU demands. He later announces that the government is withdrawing a proposal to merge the central bank and the Financial Supervisory Authority.