What are the similarities and what are the differences with the country that is going to be at the forefront of Europe for the next six months

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Hungary takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU

What is your first association when someone mentions Hungary? We believe that there are indeed many of them, and they could all be reduced to one common denominator: it is a country with an exceptionally rich history, natural heritage and gastronomy. Perhaps it is the latter that most often evokes a nostalgic memory of Hungary, the country that has taken over the presidency of the Council of the EU since 1 July, and to which people often travelled at the end of the 20th century for food supplies.

Compared to the period of the last thirty or forty years, the market opened up, which resulted in increased trade and availability of goods. This is why the habit of buying in neighboring countries gradually disappeared, but imports of these products are still present and, in 2023 for example, we imported 736.9 tonnes of sausages and 322 kilograms of cheese spreads from Hungary - two types of products that, having them on our palates, may mostly remind us to this Central European country.

Also, every good chef knows that there is no good dish, especially goulash, without quality peppers, which is perhaps one of the most recognisable Hungarian products and is often brought as a souvenir from that country. However, although we imported as much as 35.9 tonnes of ground or crushed peppers from Hungary, according to the statistics of trade in goods in 2023, this is far from being the product that, given its quantity, we imported the most from that country, but it is water, including mineral, carbonated and flavoured, which we imported in a whopping quantity of 41.7 million litres in that year. While total imports from Hungary amounted to 2.5 billion euro, exports amounted to 1.6 billion euro. The three products that we exported the most to Hungary in 2023 in terms of their value are natural gas, oil and electricity.

It is well known that Croats love to visit Hungary as tourists, which is also supported by statistics that show that, in 2023, this country was visited by a total of 20 thousand Croatian visitors on one-day trips and 12 thousand Croatian tourists on trips with overnight stays, organised by Croatian tourist agencies. Hungarians are frequently seen guests in our country, and, according to tourism statistics, last year they realised 3.3 million tourist nights, mostly in the County of Primorje-Gorski kotar (1.0 million nights), while the average number of nights per arrival was 4.8.

There are also many non-statistical curiosities about this country, such as being one of the oldest countries in Europe with the largest lake in Central Europe - Balaton - and the origin of the world’s most famous brain teaser - the Rubik’s Cube. As for some other interesting statistics on Hungary, we will single out those on population statistics. According to Eurostat’s data, at the beginning of 2023 the population of Hungary was estimated to be around 2.5 times that of Croatia’s 9.6 million inhabitants, accounting for 2.1% of the total EU population. If we compare Hungary and Croatia in terms of the number of women per 100 men, the situation is very similar - there were 107.6 women per 100 men in Hungary, while in Croatia there were 106.8 of them.

What also makes these two countries similar is the relatively high employment rate, which in 2023, according to Eurostat’s data, was 80.7% in Hungary, while in Croatia it was 70.7%. However, what sets us apart from our neighbours is inflation, which stood at a high 17.0% in Hungary in 2023.

In the run-up to this year's Summer Olympics, we will also mention the interesting fact that Hungary is the second country with the most gold medals won at the Summer Olympics per capita[1]. It is certainly a success worth mentioning, and we wish them to be equally successful in the challenging six-month presidency of the Council of the EU that lies ahead of them! 

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1102056/summer-olympics-average-medals-per-capita-since-1892/