Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time sure does fly when you're having fun! Us eurocats have 12 days left to continue soaking up as much European knowledge as possible. Today, we began our business visits and looked deeper into the economic situations (past, present, and future) of Hungary, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. Along with this, we were introduced to the new ideas and goals that the European Union is striving to reach here in Hungary.

Our first stop was Kopint-T├írki Institute for Economic Research Ltd., where we were introduced to a representative of the institute, Mr. Peter Vakhal. We learned that this was one of the oldest institutes in Hungary, founded in 1954. Mr. Vakhal filled us in on the economic history of Hungary during there periods of Communism and Socialism. Hungarians settled the region in 896 AD and have a 1000 year long history. The representative described Europe as a "bloody continent" saying that throughout the last 2000 years, the continent has only had 100 years of peace. After WW2, communism and socialism led the Hungarian economy for 50 years. During the socialism period, Hungarians would have to wait 11years before receiving an already purchased car. This was a period in which there was no formal unemployment because everyone had a job and all assets were owned by the state. Due to this, the economy experienced a shortage which led to change in 1990. Hungary became a member of NATO in 1998 and the European Union in 2004. The country belongs to both because of both political and economic reasons. Vakhal walked us through the 24 yr transition period that Hungary has faced including the ideas of Liberalization, Privatization and Stabilization.

Bosnia has a massive government for its size and is currently in the process of tallying an accurate census. The youth unemployment is 63.1%, which is a HUGE number. When I asked the presenter what her government was doing to help the unemployed youth, she said they have implemented subsidized employment for new graduates. This is similar to an internship paid with a stipend. She seemed uneasy with the question because as a member of the youth age group she too knows the government should be doing more for these graduates.

During lunch time today, we traveled to the Media Markt on the Buda side of Budapest. Here, we got to see what their mall looks like and really experience life similar to how it is in America. Gabby and I decided to do a little sightseeing before we grabbed lunch. We walked down to the river and took pictures of surrounding areas and neighborhoods. We even went into a beautiful church where we were able to take pictures.

For lunch, we grabbed food to-go at a local fast food restaurant inside the mall called Nordsee. Gabby ordered a shrimp wrap and I had a mixed plate of shrimp, fish and chips. We both enjoyed our meals and we made a friend while there. After lunch, we visited the European Commission Representation. Here, representative Liliana Zugo presented Hungarian statistics and discussed the 2020 goal of the EU which is to create a long sustainable growth of Hungary. One of the big issues in Hungary is the bank debt. In fact, some say that the slow flow of credit availability in the country is a result of the bank deficit. The Europe 2020 is planning to repair public finances, the financial sector, structural reforms and employment/social policies.

One thing I found interesting was that everyone in Europe receives the same health care and many doctors have second jobs because the don't make as much as US doctors due to the availability of health care. Patients do not have to pay co-pays either and emergencies are handled fast with little to no payment required.

Until next time,

Ashley Cadenhead

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