Ujhelyi Claims Dozen of EU Support Tools Available in Fight Against Coronavirus

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_LEZ2159At an extraordinary press conference on his social media platform, MEP István Ujhelyi reported on new EU funding and support tools Hungary can use for protection against the coronavirus, the existence of which is, however, denied by the government.
In doing so, the MSZP politician once again refuted the government’s claims that our country does not receive any help from the European Union. “It is perceptible that much of the country doubts the credibility of Viktor Orbán and his government, and the serious lies about EU funding provide valid basis for this,” Ujhelyi said, recalling that according to official government communication the country has only received aid from China and the Turkish Council in the preparation for the epidemic.
According to Ujhelyi, it is factually proven that the European Community makes nearly two thousand billion forints of funds accessible to Hungary. This, by the way, as pointed out by the Socialist MEP, is part of the EUR 37 billion European rescue package voted on by Fidesz MEPs at an extraordinary session of the European Parliament on Thursday. Earlier, Ujhelyi presented a letter sent to Ministers Miklós Kásler and László Palkovics sent in early March by EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform Elisa Ferreira and EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit.
This letter informed the Orbán government that, as part of the first rescue package, the Hungarian government would not have to repay the pre-financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds, which is EUR 861 million for Hungary. Moreover, the Commission had decided that this amount would be complemented by a pre-financing budget for 2020 of an additional EUR 607 million; this means that around EUR 520 billion of EU funds are already at the disposal of the Orbán government.
István Ujhelyi also pointed out that while Hungary can expect nearly two thousand billion forints (EUR 5.6 billion) from the European rescue package opened up in connection with the coronavirus, other member states can expect a more modest budget. The Czech Republic and Croatia, for example, receive “only” EUR 1.1 billion, but Romania (EUR 3 billion) and Italy in severe crisis (EUR 4.1 billion can expect less resources than Hungary, with Poland alone getting bigger EU support.
According to the MSZP MEP, the government’s argument that this money has already been allocated in advance and therefore cannot be reallocated is also a lie. Referring to a letter from the European Commission, Ujhelyi refuted Fidesz’s arguments, saying it was clear that Hungary had not yet sent its bills to Brussels of the freed up amount, meaning that these funds could now indeed be reallocated for protection against the coronavirus, the EU has offered the possibility to do so.
“I call on the government to explain to the public in detail what it wants to spend this tremendous amount of money on! What exactly are those urgent projects that do not permit the government to spend on protection against the coronavirus? Are these the tenders already promised to be won by the circle of friends and buddies? If there is only one such project, then it becomes clear that it was more important for Fidesz to stuff one of Lőrinc Mészáros’s companies with money than to deal with the situation of Hungarian families during the epidemic! ” said István Ujhelyi on his community page.
At the Saturday press conference, the European politician of MSZP also said that there were twelve different EU tools and programs that the government could use for protection, such as health institution development or job protection. Ujhelyi mentioned that, for example, the Prime Minister’s Office had an EU budget of HUF 13 billion that was allocated for communication with the public, but now, in line with the EU decision, we could use it for protection against the coronavirus.
According to Ujhelyi, there are similarly mobilizable EU funds in the treasury of the Ministry of Foreign Economy and Foreign Affairs (HUF 10 billion) and the Ministry of National Economy (HUF 64 billion). The Socialist MEP added that there are currently 47 open applications in the Széchenyi2020 program, almost all of which could be used for protection if the government made the necessary call. According to István Ujhelyi, instead, the government is lying to Hungarian society, to the European Union and to the Members of the European Parliament, although it should rather build trust among European partners and the Hungarian people in this severe crisis.

Budapest – 28/03/2020

Ujhelyi: Fidesz Government Denies EU Funding of HUF 520 billion

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LEZ_9758At the current exchange rate, the European Commission provides the Hungarian government with an amount of roughly HUF 520 billion for protection against the coronavirus.
However, Fidesz is still trying to deny this – socialist MEP István Ujhelyi said at an extraordinary online press conference on his social media platform. The MSZP politician also presented a letter sent to ministers Miklós Kásler and László Palkovics in early March by EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform Elisa Ferreira and EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit.
Ujhelyi said that this letter was meant to inform the Orbán government that, as part of the first rescue package, the pre-financing from the European Structural and Investment Funds, which would be EUR 861 million for Hungary, would not need to be repaid. Moreover, the Commission had decided that this amount will be complemented by a pre-financing frame for 2020 of an additional EUR 607 million. Thus, added up, about HUF 520 billion of EU funds are already available to the Orbán Cabinet. “The Hungarian government was notified about this 10 days ago, so the ministers either did not inform the head of the government or Orbán’s team is deliberately lying and have a different plan altogether for the money,” Ujhelyi said.
The MEP added that the European Union had already taken a number of immediate steps to protect against the coronavirus and help the Member States. For example, such is the EUR 37 billion package decided and approved by the European Parliament just yesterday, which will provide Hungary with a budget of approximately two thousand billion forints; of which the above mentioned sum of 520 billion is also a part of.
Ujhelyi pointed out that the EU has opened up the necessary funds to enable Member States to procure healthcare equipment and support businesses in crisis, but thanks to a decision made by the European Parliament yesterday, some resources can be drawn from the EU Solidarity Fund, though previously this could only be done in times of natural disasters.
The European politician of MSZP stressed that, although the Member States are locking themselves down in the current situation, the European Union is active and the institutions are making every effort to provide the Member States with resources. “It is a deliberate communication strategy to blame the European Union for the public anger that is expected to result from the decline of healthcare, even though the organization of healthcare is the exclusive the responsibility of the Member States.
I call on Viktor Orbán and the government not to deny our European allies and European solidarity by bowing to the Turkish Council in a deceiving fashion, but to help the common work. It will be difficult for me to fight for resources for the interests of Hungarian employees and the protection of Hungarian society if in the meantime the Hungarian government will  treat Brussels as a scapegoat, rather than a partner,” said István Ujhelyi.

Budapest, 27/3/2020

COVID19: Letter to Ursula von der Leyen & Mariya Gabriel to save circus art

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1081899566_2342d82903_bUrsula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, Head of the Covid19 Operative Team
Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Education and Culture

Dear Madam President Von Der Leyen,
Dear Madam Commissioner Gabriel,

Desperate times call for desperate measures; and we are undoubtedly living historic days in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It is already evident that the coercive measures and panic due to the disease are causing serious, currently incalculable and lasting damage to the world economy. The outbreak primarily affects industries and economic sectors that rely on travel, entertainment and servicing of the masses. Circus art, which has also recently been forced to close its doors to the public, is also regarded as a part of tourism. Due to the steps that had to be taken as a result of the coronavirus, stone and traveling circuses throughout Europe have suspended their tours and performances.
In the past period, we have been conducting daily consultations with the affected family businesses, asking for detailed data and damage assessments. The situation is more than tragic. There are thousands of circus companies operating in the European Union, most of them family businesses that provide for the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and give home to thousands of circus animals. It is no exaggeration to say that the precautionary measures against the coronavirus cause a long-term loss of revenue that threatens the very existence of countless businesses. In contrast to many other businesses, circus still is predominantly a seasonal business. After the winter, reserves have literally been eaten up (not only by the circus people, but also by their animals) or invested in new equipment. Therefore, the virus hit the circuses at the worst possible point in time. Their only income is from ticket sales. If these have to be stopped, circuses directly run into debts.
The European Commission has recently announced that it will provide € 37 billion in investment aid to Member States, along with € 8 billion in loans to some 100,000 companies in the most vulnerable sectors, i.e. retail, tourism and transport. As a Member of the European Parliament and First Vice-Chair of the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism, together with the Heads of the European Circus Association and Fédération Mondiale du Cirque, we call on the President of the European Commission, the coronavirus operative commissioners and the Commissioner for Culture Mariya Gabriel to give priority to the most vulnerable sectors of the economy during compensations.
We propose that the European Commission provide tourism operators, including cultural institutions and therefore circus businesses, with substantial funding proportionate to their damage. They need immediate help to survive the transition and to protect their jobs as well as the health and the lives of their circus animals. In this situation, every minute counts, not only for the survival of businesses, but for the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people, the lives of thousands of animals with special needs and a 250-year-old European art industry that deserves special attention.
If necessary, we will provide you with exact data and statistics. We ask you to start a substantive discussion as soon as possible on the feasibility of compensation.

We look forward to your kind reply,

dr. István Ujhelyi MEP
Member of the European Parliament
Vice-Chair of the EP Committee on Transport and Tourism
Honorary Ambassador to Fédération Mondiale du Cirque

Urs Pilz
President of Fédération Mondiale du Cirque

Helmut Grosscurth
Managing Director of the European Circus Association

Brussels, 17.03.2020.

Vice-Chair of TRAN urges extraordinary TRAN-meeting and the modification of the slot regulation

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BB_L3873István Ujhelyi Vice-Chair of the TRAN Committee urges the European Parliament to support the modification of the slot regulation immediately and calls for extraordinary TRAN-meeting. The Hungarian MEP has written in his statement, that under the European Green Deal programme it is unacceptable and dangerous to maintain empty planes in the European Sky; it can also ruin the companies involved. „The next plenary session is in one month, so the TRAN Committee must act now! We must have an extraordinary meeting to get the required decisions” – declared MEP Ujhelyi.
Under normal circumstances, the so-called „use-it-or-lose-it” rule is a well-balanced principle for the efficient use of scarce capacity at congested airports. But under these exceptional circumstances, it will force our airlines to operate flights unnecessarily in order to retain long-term access to these important airports through the historic slots that they have acquired over time.
Flying almost empty planes would be very harmful for the already significantly affected airlines and even more so from an environmental point of view. That is why earlier this week European Airline Companies collectively called for a waiver of the 80/20 rule for slots as set out in Council Regulation (EEC) No 95/93.

Brussels – 10.03.2020.