THE ENERGY POLICY OF THE SECOND ORBÁN GOVERNMENT - Increasing state control
What are the characteristics of the Orbán government’s energy policy? What old, “time-tested” solutions or previously not used power techniques did the new government implement during its first year? Are there strong features of the two-thirds majority legislation? How does legislation represent the interest of energy lobbies? These are the questions investigated by the study prepared in the framework of the Energiaklub’s Control Energy Program, evaluating the performance of the one year old government through analysing energy legislation materials and energy policy documents.
The analysis titled “The Energy Policy of the Second Orbán Government” was prepared by the Energiaklub in cooperation with the Méltányosság Politikaelemező Központ (Centre for Fair Political Analysis). The material is closely related to the study titled “Dysfunctions in the State Energy Sector and Energy Legislation” published 18 months ago, it can be regarded as a monitoring of the latter.
The energy legislation of the government reflects the general philosophy of the new cabinet, that is, legislation based on a system of individual MP motions and laws amended over and over, states the document. Because the Orbán government modified altogether 21 laws, including the nine passed energy acts and legislation packages. Out of the nine acts four were proposed individually by MPs, and three were related to the announcement of international legislation, so the government only undertook two proposals only. With this procedure, the government could elude its obligations for administrative and professional discussion, as a result of which important professional and civil suggestions were not considered in the course of the preparation of these legislations. The above codification technique, procedure, the attitude of the legislative body confirm that the government regards the area of energy management as a state monopoly where neither political, nor countermand is welcome, and the broader energy profession is only allowed to watch the internally made agreements from the sidelines. However, all this does not mean that laws are made in total accordance: the second Orbán government experiences significant energy policy tensions. As internal conflicts are muffled, the arising professional and political dissonances remain unspoken, which can pose threats even outside of the area of industry policy in the long run.
The study inspected the energy policy strategies created by the government, including the New Széchenyi Plan, the National Renewable Energy Action Plan of Hungary and the policy titled National Energy Strategy for 2030. We can make the general conclusion that the strategies and ideas of the Orbán government have no groundbreaking, innovative directives, however, the incoherence among highlighted strategies diminishes the chances of their realization. The lack of coherence is most notable in the case of the National Energy, where sections about emissions are fundamentally contradicting those of the National Climate Change Strategy. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that strategies and energy policy decisions are not made with a clear vision of future to prevent adverse events, but they only follow them, react to them. The government shapes not only short-term modifications but also long-term strategies mostly along current lobby interests and its relation with certain energy industry players.
Based on the evaluation of legislations and documents we can say that the government aims to create a classic protectionist energy policy where the paternalist state asserts a high level of control over market players. This had been similar before, but unfortunately the situation has been deteriorating recently. The Orbán government is further worsening the existing bad practice, and is establishing even tighter manual control in a sector where accountability and long-term planning would be essential. The most important factor of this is giving key market roles primarily to state-owned energy sector players, moving against European trends, creating rather an Eastern energy policy philosophy. The government’s concepts follow mainly Russian and Chinese examples, without taking into account the fundamental differences between those countries and Hungary, Hungary’s energy conditions as well as the realities of the market, our EU membership and our obligations arising from it