Hungary, like many countries, is trying to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn. However, one of the most controversial plans of the state is to charge additional fuel for drivers of foreign licensed vehicles.
The European Union, of which Hungary is a part, has called the move “discriminatory” and has asked the country to suspend the two-tier charging system, which could result in foreign drivers being charged an additional 60 per cent for refueling.
Other measures introduced by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government include taxing “additional profits” from various industries, including banks and airlines, which have seen strong growth in demand after easing anti-pandemic restrictions. It is expected that the affected industries will not agree.
“We are at war now and this issue needs to be resolved,” Orban said. “(Companies) will have to bear more burdens than usual, because Hungarian families can’t afford it.”
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While there is no doubt that the two-tier gas price structure discriminates against foreign drivers and may violate EU bloc rules, a broader picture gives a slightly different perspective.
Drivers entering a gas station in Hungary are greeted by a sign indicating that the price is significantly lower than in any other country in the European Union. From November 2021, the price of a liter without lead has been limited to 480 forints ($ 1.25), while drivers in neighboring Austria and Slovakia now pay about 2 euros ($ 2.10).
This has led to fuel tourism, where drivers living in other countries but close to the border with Hungary take short trips to the state to refuel. A 60 percent fee from the base price of $ 1.25 per liter of fuel will result in foreign drivers paying $ 2 in their home countries.
Orban attributed Hungary’s poor economic situation to the recent war in Ukraine and EU sanctions against Russia. It is clear that Hungary, which has its own currency, has suffered more than the European Union, which uses the euro. ABC News reports Inflation in Hungary rose to 12.2 percent in May 2022, but only 8.1 percent in the 19 countries that use the euro.