This research report, prepared as a part of the project “REJEnerAXion - Energy for a just and green recovery deal: the role of the industrial relations in the energy sector for a resilient Europe”, a European Union co-funded research project (101052341/SOCPL-2021-IND-REL), investigates Hungary's energy sector transformation within the framework of a just transition. The analysis emphasises key findings related to social dialogue, industrial relations, and collective bargaining in the context of the energy transition.

Multi-actor institutional involvement characterises the energy transition in Hungary along with a very high level of (informal) centralisation, that results in non-transparent governance. The high dependency on Russian fuel and technology and the high turbulence in energy production and consumption, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine, have created new uncertainties about the timing and nature of the phase-out of coal.

Collective bargaining in Hungary is highly decentralised, with decreasing coverage rates and falling union membership. The energy sector stands out as a regulated sector with high coverage and relatively high union density rates, so far attempting to resisting the negative trends. Sectoral and company-level collective agreements were pivotal in managing property transformation and state ownership changes in the last decades, and provide both an institutional legacy and know-how for sectoral trade unions to deal with the challenges of the green transition. While there is social dialogue within a recently established regional coal commission, the absence of a comprehensive tripartite institution covering the entire workforce hinders effective policy inclusion. Expert informants pointed out that the Hungarian energy transition is fragile as it is a centralised system, which is both driven by and dependent on available financialization and EU regulation and conditionality. The country’s energy transition has a top-down, increasingly centralised characteristic, which lacks transparency and clear, responsive timetable. Trade unions in energy and mining are active in the process emphasise just transition principles, while employer organisations are less vocal. Trade unions do not support unconditionally the transition towards renewables, but advocate alternative solutions.