Despite some political and legal debates between Hungary and the European Union, Baker McKenzie Partner Marton Horanyi, who also co-heads the firm’s Antitrust and Competition practice group in Hungary, says, “not much out of the ordinary” is going on, politically. “In fact, investors in Hungary appreciate that things have been rather stable now for the past few years.”
Horanyi says that Covid-19 is still the word of the day. “In the spring, Hungary implemented severe measures to curb the effects of the virus,” he says. This resulted in a special legal order, a so called “state of danger,” which was introduced in the spring, giving additional power to the Government. “The state of danger was lifted in June – without a hint that it would be reintroduced – and we are now in a state of public health emergency,” Horanyi reports. This state still allows the Government access to certain additional powers, albeit fewer than during the state of danger. “There are border restrictions in place and the Government can restrict the opening of businesses, regulate how institutions open, and what goes on in schools,” he says.
Horanyi says that “the Government is pouring money onto the market right now in an effort to not just help businesses survive, but also to incentivize investments in order to push the economy forward.” He notes that “it will be only in hindsight that we will be able to see the results of these measures.” Still, he says, barring severe consequences and unforeseeable complications, current indications “strongly support a bounce-back, despite the growth of our national debt.” He adds that his optimism stems from the fact that “in key industries there have been no massive layoffs, and although businesses are careful, many players are also looking for opportunities to grow.” At the time of writing, Hungary has over 30,000 active cases of the new coronavirus, with nearly 900 deaths.
Finally, Horanyi reports that, for him and his Antitrust and Competition team at Baker McKenzie, “work has continued as normal – we are kept very busy.” He describes the new President of Hungary’s Competition Office, Csaba Rigo, who took over in the spring, as “very committed to further enhancing the effectiveness of the office." According to him, "this is already visible and there is a lot of activity in terms of combating anticompetitive practices – cleaning the market of unfair behavior, false advertisements, and the like.” According to Horanyi, Rigo's experience as the former President of the Hungarian Public Procurement Authority is reflected in his “vigor to step up against public procurement cartels as well,” and he says that this can “help a lot in cleaning up public tendering procedures.”