Dec 6, 2011

Hungarian plan for national growth

I posted a list of cities from Central Europe with a population of more than a hundred thousand. In the back of my mind while compiling the list I was thinking of their Western European and well even North American counter parts and how several cities can work as metropolitan areas, which are more viable as centers of economic regions cooperating and sharing tasks in order to create functional globally important regions. Today in Central Europe there is a lack in this, truly we can state that Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Katowice and probably one of the few real cooperations the Centrope region Vienna-Brünn-Bratislava-Győr work as a true globally important economic region.

Map of Western European industrial belt and its Central European counterpart.

Yesterday I read the new Hungarian propasal for national growth, which is more of an analysis than a true plan and despite many of its valuable thoughts carrying it is not so easy without detailed road maps leading to the goals defined in the plan by 2015. The most valuable part of the plan is the one with a detailed discription of the cities of Hungary putting them into a hierarchical order according to their economic and governmental status. The report or analysis (I must stress the fact that it is called a plan, but truly it can not be defined as one for it only sets out some vague goals and determines even more vaguely what there is to be done to achieve those goals) also contains maps and discriptions recording the geographical distribution of the top 200 businesses in Hungary, the top 200 developing businesses as well as geographical distribution by economic fileds.

Building on this in the plan there is also are very valuable part where it mentions and briefly describes the creation of an economic area in the Carpathian Basin. The main idea being that cross-border business hubs should be created and supported in order to boost the Hungarian economy and of course that of the whole region. Especially mentioned are:
- the Centrope: Vienna-Bratislava-Győr triangle, which I might add also should and naturally does contain Brno and is a true ractangle and probably the only already functional cross-border are with a strong auto industry.
- the Szeged-Timisoara region is also mentioned, which would and could also include Subotica (city in Serbia with almost 100.000 inhabitants barely didn't make my list) and Arad.  
- the Debrecen-Oradea region, the two cities being very close to each other on two sides of the Hungarian Romanian border.
- the Szombathely-Zalaegerszeg-Graz region, which can be also seen as a southern extension to the Centrope region since the most important here is also the auto industry and mechatronics.
- the Miskolc-Koisce region in Northern Hungary and Eastern Slovakia, respectively the two cities are very close together in fact part of Kosice's agglomeration has reached the Hungarian border. The two cities are traditional industrial centers in both countries.
- last, but not least the Pécs-Osijek region, which is the only region mentioned here where one of the poles of the region is not in the EU, but with Croatia joining the EU in 2013 new cooperation and better opportunities could arise here as well.

Map of possible cross-border hubs.

Dec 2, 2011


Merkozy is the new nickname given to Angela Merkel the Chancellor of the German Federal Republic and to Nicholas Sarkozy the President of the French Republic following the path of Brangelina and TomKat... It is of course a journalistic tool of cynically expressing that the duo formed by the leaders of the largest economies of the Eurozone are the ones dominating the talks on the euro crisis and who are practically dominating also the EU politics as a whole.

Of course everyone is waiting for the results of next weeks European Council meeting and looking forward to what solutions the two leaders will come up with. Today in a speech in the Bundestag Merkel shared some of her thoughts including an opposition to Eurobonds, the preferance of treaty modification over a new treaty within the Eurozone and that she believes the automatic mechanism of sanctioning states would be the best solution done by European institutions. She highlighted that it is important not to create a further gap between Eurozone and non-Euro EU Member States. Which is not only a good news for the UK, but also for states of the Euro Plus Pact and other states that may later wish to introduce the euro as a currency such as Hungary for example. She also addressed claims of a German dominated Europe saying that their actions are not to dominate, but in the spirit of Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl. She will discuss her plans with Sarkozy on Monday in Paris.  

Also today David Cameron talked about his meeting with Nicholas Sarkozy stating he doesn't believe a treaty change is needed and if it will go through he will try to make sure that UK interests are taken into account. Well I do not believe that if a new treaty is created within the Eurozone that the UK diplomacy can do much. It is of course a possibility if there is a treaty change for the UK to try to block it, but I think that the UK's approach to the talks so far were very distant due naturally to the fact that it has stayed away from the euro.


Nov 30, 2011

EU ambassadors listen to HvR this is a link to the speech Herman van Rompuy gave to the conference of heads of delegations of the EU delegations. It is a very interesting speech and one that defines important aspects of European foreign policy.

Still I would like to share my view that on an general basis it is the EU's best tool (or weapon) what the President of the European Council refers back to time to time the economic power that the EU represents being the world's largest economy. He mentioned this in connection with Russia and the Eastern policy of the Union as well as in connection with the shift to the Pacific area. More interestingly when speaking of the BRICS he mentioned that it would be important to engage these countries in other global issues. In connection to that and to the economic power being the strongest tool in the hands of the EU I believe that the EU should in fact start showing a lead on the international scene in public diplomacy (that is also in front of tv cameras) in certain issues. We know for a fact that some EU Member States are leaders in issues such as climate change (mentioned by HvR) so probably as a stronghold the common foreign policy of the EU should be agressive enough to label global issues as European initiatives, which is of course a step necessary for the EU to be seen as a strong actor and not as an actor whose currency might fall apart and whose direction towards coherence can be questionable.

I have seen a very good exampl of this and a very natural one in UNESCO where the EU and its Member States play a very important and active role. Here the EU is the only non-state party to the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions this is a great example of a European issue which can be strongly expressed on a global international level. I think more of this is needed for international actors and simply for the global view to change on the EU from a large economy to a real actor. The job has begun and I must agree with HvR that the work in the past two years has been enorm and the development is significant despite or thanks to major global happenings forming the foreign policy agenda (economic crisis, Arab spring, natural disasters). 

Nov 28, 2011

EU-US Summit

An EU-US Summit took place in Washington D.C., leaders of the world's largest economy (EU) and second largest (USA) namely Barack Obama President of the USA, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton repsented the USA and the EU was repesented by Herman van Rompuy President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso President of the European Commission and High Representative Catherine Ashton. They touched upon a wide range of topics from economics to climate change and even Tymoshenko's trial in the Ukraine. It is very obvious from the joint statement that they did not have desire to comment upon Palestine jointly, which is probably the only major global political issue not mentioned in the joint statement. Then again we know that the Member States of the EU cannot agree among themselves on the subject, which is probably the resonin behind it. It is also very interesting that the parties praise themselves as the largest aid donors when also in connection to Palestine the USA cut funding from UNESCO.
Here are some links on the Summit: 

This is a link to the joint EU-US statement after the EU-US Summit in Washington D.C.:

About the agenda of EU-US Summits:

Finally an interview with EU ambassador to the USA before the summit:

Nov 24, 2011

Central European City List

This is a list of cities in Central Europe that have a population of more than a hundred thousand. On the list I included all cities meeting the population limit from Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia additionaly I have included cities from Romania, Serbia and the Ukraine that are in territories that are sometimes considered Central Europe (Banat, Galicia, Transcarpathia, Transylvania and Voivodina). I have not included cities from Austria and Germany simply for the sake of simplicity, it would have been impossible for me to draw the western borders of Central Europe, so maybe another time.

City Country Population
Budapest Hungary 1 721 556
Warsaw Poland 1 706 624
Prague Czech Republic
1 300 995
Zagreb Croatia 792 875
Kraków Poland 756 583
Łódź  Poland 753 192
Lviv Ukraine 732 818
Wrocław Poland 632 930
Poznań Poland 567 932
Gdańsk Poland 458 717
Brno Czech Republic 454 337
Bratislava Slovakia 431 061
Szczecin Poland 410 811
Bydgoszcz Poland 361 222
Lublin Poland 351 806
Cluj-Napoca Romania 317 953
Timisoara Romania 317 660
Katowice Poland 317 220
Ostrava Czech Republic 314 590
Białystok Poland 294 143
Brasov Romania 284 596
Gdynia Poland 250 242
Ljubjana Slovenia 248 836
Częstochowa Poland 242 300
Chernivtsi Ukraine 240 621
Kosice Slovakia 234 596
Radom Poland 224 857
Sosnowiec  Poland 222 586
Novi Sad Serbia 221 854
Ivano-Frankivsk Ukraine 218 359
Debrecen Hungary 207 270
Toruń Poland 206 619
Oradea Romania 206 614
Kielce Poland 205 902
Gliwice  Poland 197 393
Zabrze  Poland 189 062
Bytom  Poland 184 765
Split Croatia 178 192
Plzen Czech Republic 177 936
Olsztyn Poland 175 710
Bielsko-Biała Poland 175 690
Arad Romania 172 824
Szeged Hungary 169 731
Miskolc Hungary 169 226
Rzeszów Poland 166 454
Maribor Slovenia 157 938
Pécs Hungary 157 680
Sibiu Romania 154 892
Targu Mures Romania 149 577
Ruda Śląska  Poland 144 584
Rybnik Poland 141 080
Baia Mare Romania 137 976
Győr Hungary 130 478
Tychy  Poland 129 776
Dąbrowa Górnicza  Poland 128 795
Rijeka Croatia 128 735
Płock Poland 126 968
Opole Poland 126 748
Elbląg Poland 126 710
Gorzów Wielkopolski Poland 125 411
Wałbrzych Poland 123 635
Włocławek Poland 118 432
Nyíregyháza Hungary 117 832
Zielona Góra Poland 117 523
Uzhhorod Ukraine 117 317
Tarnów Poland 116 118
Satu Mare Romania 115 630
Chorzów  Poland 113 678
Kecskemét Hungary 112 233
Kalisz Poland 108 031
Osijek Croatia 107 784
Koszalin Poland 107 376
Liberec Czech Republic 105 229
Legnica Poland 104 754
Olomouc Czech Republic 102 134
Székesfehérvár Hungary 101 973
Ústí nad Labem Czech Republic 100 884
Hradec Králové Czech Republic 100 090