Abstract: Over the past decade the European Union concluded dozens of free trade agreements. These agreements are aimed at more than removing barriers to trade in goods; in a much broader context they also regulate other trade-related issues. Their purpose is to enhance the competitiveness of the Europe Union and to provide markets and investment opportunities for European companies. The EU offers so-called Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA) to neighbourhood regions, including the Southern Mediterranean area. The agreements would help the countries concerned to transform their legal system along European patterns so that they would essentially be integrated into the single market and become competitive growing economies. The EU would benefit from the resulting decrease in security risk from the concerned countries. Although in an optimal case DCFTAs indeed have a positive effect on the integration of Southern Mediterranean countries into the global economy, for the time being the risks seem to be greater than the benefits.
Keywords: European Union, Southern Mediterranean, free trade agreement, trade policy, DCFTA
JEL: F13, F15, F63
Workfare Society in Action – the Hungarian Labour Market and Social Conditions in European Comparison
Abstract: This paper aims at investigating the achievements of Hungary’s “work-based society”. Based on statistical data, it examines the characteristics of the Hungarian labour market and the development of social indicators over the past decade in comparison with the European Union and the Central and Eastern European member states. As there are improving tendencies during recent years on a regional level, the relatively good employment situation of Hungary cannot be considered as an outlier. While the Hungarian labour market conditions have been improved to some extent, some characteristics, like the level of wages and productivity are rather lagging behind the regional average. Due to policy changes since 2010, the social protection of the most vulnerable declines and, concerning the increase of income inequalities, Hungary is a regional “leader”. The article concludes that in order for such a social welfare regime to help social inclusion and serve social equality, a reconfiguration of the economic, as well as political governance, is needed.
Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, Hungary, labour market, welfare, workfare
JEL: E24, D63, I3, J3, J8