Hungarian government has not yet officially applied for the loan part of Recovery Fund

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nQmfOpkc_2_1000x700“Yet another letter proves that the government is a sham and is lying to all of us, or they are completely incompetent in the current situation, or perhaps both.” This is how Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi described the fact that, according to the letter of reply he received from the President of the European Commission, the Hungarian government has not yet officially applied for the EU funds that can be drawn from the loan part of the so-called Recovery Fund, although according to the government’s earlier information, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent a letter pertaining to the matter to Brussels in March.
In an online press conference on Tuesday, MSZP’s European politician recalled that the rule of law debate with the Hungarian government is not only about the disbursement of funds of the next seven-year budget, but also about the non-reimbursable aid package and the additional funds provided by the concessional loan part of the so-called ” Recovery Fund “, with the former part of the package being worth 2.500 billion forints and the latter 3.500 billion forints.
Ujhelyi pointed out that at the time the Fidesz government had initially “haughtily” refused to use the loan part, saying Hungary did not need it, but in March this year, due to the increasingly tense economic crisis, the Prime Minister’s press chief informed the public that Viktor Orbán had written to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to inform her: Hungary’s recovery plan should be adopted as soon as possible and that, in addition to non-reimbursable funds, the government would also use the loan part of the Recovery Fund.
However, the Socialist MEP said that no formal action had been taken since then, as evidenced by Ursula von der Leyen’s written reply to Ujhelyi on the matter, dated 24 August. In it, the socialist politician said the EC President makes it clear that the Hungarian government has not yet taken any official steps to call on or apply for the loan part of the Recovery Fund. “So the government claims that we will not receive the funds from the EU, but in addition to sending a communication letter, it has not even submitted the appropriate, revised plan to Brussels,” István Ujhelyi assessed.
MSZP’s European politician asked the government to finally be honest to the public in Hungary’s current situation. “You are blaming the European institutions for everything, while you are clearly unable to govern or indeed tell the truth”, Ujhelyi said at the press conference, sending a message to the Fidesz government.

Budapest/Brussels – 30/08/2022

DETAILS OF ORBÁN’S TRIP TO THE U.S. KEPT SECRET ON GROUNDS OF EMERGENCY

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71926539_10157467417631093_608488950494920704_oMore than fifteen days ago, at the beginning of August, I submitted a request for public information to the relevant ministries to obtain details of the recent trip to the US by Fidesz party leader Viktor Orbán and his delegation.
I had already indicated at the time that, according to the information that had been made public, the trip was clearly a party political one and not a consultation on matters of state, since the prominent members of Fidesz were traveling to a conservative conference and – at least according to the published reports – they had not met the leaders of the United States, nor had they consulted them on matters concerning our country. But if it is a party political programme, financed by Hungarian taxpayers, then the minimum expectation is that the government at least accounts for the details and costs.
In my request for data of public interest, I asked for information in accordance with the law on exactly who accompanied Viktor Orbán to the United States and in what capacity, what the source of the costs was, or what clear and unambiguous public interest justified the trip in a private government aircraft, which is said to be a military transport plane.
The government waited until the statutory 15-day deadline to respond had expired, and then wrote to me to say that they would only send a reply within 45 days because to do so within 15 days would “jeopardize the performance of public duties related to the emergency.” They do have the legal possibility to do so, thanks to the amendment to the law that Fidesz has squeezed into the existing provisions.
In other words: they are stalling as long as possible in case we forget about it. But we won’t. At the very least, they will have to give a full and detailed account of their publicly funded political propaganda tour. If they need 45 days to do that, so be it, we will just wait. So as not to ‘jeopardize public service.’

MEP István Ujhelyi
Budapest/Brussels – 22/8/2022

EU Funds: We Demand to See Government’s Correspondence with Brussels!

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lastgameThe last round of Orbán’s gambling has come to an end, as at midnight the one-month deadline to reply to the latest letter from Brussels on the rule of law conditionality expires. This is the last question and answer session, no more excuses or compromises. If the Fidesz government is still unable to convince the European Commission that it is able to provide adequate guarantees for the rule of law, then surely concrete financial sanctions will now follow.
This could result in a real and substantial loss of resources, which is the sole and clear responsibility of the Fidesz government. If Hungary receives even a single euro cent less than it should because of the criminal activities of the Orbán regime, the only people who will be held responsible will be the builders, operators and beneficiaries of the NER (Orbán’s so-called National Cooperation System). One way or another.
The European Commission began to put an end to this long-drawn-out process at the end of April, when it wrote to the Hungarian government to inform it of the launch of a mechanism to protect the EU budget from abuses of the rule of law. Following the first exchange of letters, the EU not only made clear that there was a serious problem with the systemic weaknesses in the Hungarian public procurement system, the lack of a comprehensive anti-corruption framework or the limited independence (to put it mildly) of the investigative authorities, but also told the Fidesz government in black and white which EU funds would be the ones that the Hungarian cabinet could say goodbye to if it did not make substantial changes to its operations.
The Orbán cabinet has done little beyond the usual anti-EU propaganda: the government’s pledges, announced as a big step forward, are in fact hardly enough to make a meaningful compromise. The significant reduction in the proportion of single-player public tenders has long been a necessary step (I might add that with this they themselves have acknowledged that so far tenders have been almost exclusively tailored to the circle of friends and relatives), but the laughter in Brussels over the creation of an ‘anti-corruption task force’, which the Justice Ministry has thrown in, was so loud that it could be heard from the Moon.
The fact is that in the current economic and social situation, even a single euro cent lost will be seriously missed from the Hungarian state budget. So the Hungarian Government cannot lose a single cent because of its own stubborn thievery; if the country does have to suffer any loss of resources, it will be solely because of Fidesz arrogance and Fidesz theft of public money. Obviously, if any sanctions are imposed on our country because of the government, the propaganda machine will be in full force to point the finger of blame at the European Union, the left, and perhaps the sex-changing kindergarteners.
We’re warning you: a blatant lie tsunami is coming. The only way for Fidesz to act fairly and credibly is to publish the letters sent by the European Commission, the precise expectations and criteria they contain, and the government’s responses to them. At the moment, the people of Hungary can only find out about anything from the brief statements of the negotiating parties, even though it is their very lives that are at stake. In fact, it is no longer a game at all, a match where the Hungarian Prime Minister always gets the good hand anyway. I therefore once again call on the government to make its correspondence with the European Commission available without delay, starting, for example, with the letter of reply that has been sent to Brussels by midnight on Monday.
Let it be known what the Hungarian Government has and has not committed itself to, what it has and has not compromised on in terms of European expectations regarding the rule of law and the protection of EU funds. If they are confident in their truth and have nothing to hide, they will do just this and promptly. If this shall not happen, not a word they say about the suspension or loss of EU funding should be believed. In her 20th August address, Hungarian President Katalin Novák said that “the precondition for our cooperation with the European Union is that we are not blackmailed either with the money we are owed or with the ideologies that Hungarians reject.” As for me, I think that a precondition for our cooperation with the EU is that the Fidesz government does not steal. It is as simple as that.

MEP István Ujhelyi
21 August, 2022

Turns Out Fidesz’s Promise on Russian Energy Dependence Was only a lie!

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185241-5x3-topteaser1260x756“We will not be Gazprom’s happiest barrack (…) Although oil comes from the East, freedom always comes from the West” – often quoted phrases from Viktor Orbán, but few people paid attention to his promises and commitments on Russian energy dependence during the past decade of peace, even though they were quite epoch-making. The latter is particularly interesting because in the current crisis situation, when Fidesz is falsely blaming the European Union for everything and citing our energy dependence on Russia as a constraint on our actions, it turns out that all their promises were ultimately unkept or simply wasted, forgotten commitments, or, to put it simply, pure lies.
In the last written election programme of Fidesz (Yes, Hungary can do more – 2009), which is still in force, the energy issue is still given a special chapter, and it is stated that “in our country, it is a particularly urgent task to alleviate the unilateral dependence on Russian suppliers.” Fidesz, which was still in opposition at the time, also scolds the then government for not doing all it can to reduce Hungary’s energy dependence on Russia.
In fact, a sentence – no longer uttered by Fidesz – can be read in the written document: a common European energy policy is needed, since “Russia, as the main energy supplier, successfully divides European countries; the majority of decisions are still taken by the Member States individually, overshadowing the need for unified Community action.”
This last sentence would get treason-label these days, but at the very least it would be tagged with the stigma of ‘Brusselsite Lib Dem.’ It is also in this Fidesz programme that the ‘legal obstacles to the spread of renewable energy sources’ must be removed and domestic financial support for this purpose must be strengthened. However, we know that Fidesz did not do this when it came to power, but instead, referring to ‘climate hysteria,’ it has, for example, banned the installation of wind farms by law and is making it more difficult for people to use solar panels, among other things.
But this is not the only time Fidesz has lied – or let’s be more understanding and say, falsely exaggerated – to voters about ending Russian energy dependence. Less than four years ago, Viktor Orbán spoke about Hungarian energy policy priorities after a joint Serbian-Hungarian government meeting and, citing several international investments, promised that by 2022 “the Russian gas monopoly in Hungary will be over once and for all.” Well, it isn’t. Not in the least.
In some sort of defence of the Fidesz government, there were some strategically important plans that Orbán referred to and thrown in, the full implementation of which ultimately did not depend on the Hungarian government, but it can be said that Orbán’s calculations were wrong, they did not take their own promises seriously, and even – for example, after the aggressive annexation of Crimea – they concluded agreements with Russia that were an unjustified shackle to Hungary.
Hungary’s so-called energy mix is currently very one-sided: it relies overwhelmingly on gas and oil, with renewable green energy sources barely exceeding 11 per cent. In fact, statistics show that since 2010 Fidesz has not even attempted to change this ratio: between 2010 and 2019, the amount of imported natural gas from Russia to Hungary nearly doubled (17.7 million cubic metres). If Fidesz had used its historic opportunity and almost unchecked power over the past twelve years to implement what it undertook to do in opposition in 2009, we would be in a very different place today. If the past twelve years had been about truly strengthening the country’s immune system and not just about the vast enrichment of a few privileged friends and relatives, our country would be much more crisis-resistant.
But, the fact of the matter is, Fidesz has done nothing of substance in the last period to ensure, as it has demanded, that our exposure to Russia is ended as soon as possible. On the contrary, despite his promises and commitments, Orbán has tightened the noose that is now around all our necks. The world is changing and some crises cannot be predicted, which is why it would cost nothing if the leaders of Fidesz sometimes respected Hungarian people enough to be honest with them. And apologize to them if they have made mistakes, if they have been wrong or if they have lied to them. It seems that even after the fourth two-thirds majority, the ability to shed one’s arrogance is still a luxury.

István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
14 August, 2022

GOVERNMENT HAS ONLY NOW APPLIED TO EU FOR MONEY TO INCREASE TEACHERS’ SALARIES

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353A0226The struggle of interests has triumphed, the government has finally bowed to the demands of teachers – this is how István Ujhelyi assessed the fact that the Fidesz government’s new operational programme submitted to Brussels recently now includes a significant increase in the average salary of teachers.
At his online press conference on Wednesday, the MSZP MEP stressed, however, that the original government package submitted earlier for spending EU funds did not contain a single word about the settlement of teachers’ salaries, meaning that the government propaganda that teachers’ salaries cannot be raised because of Brussels or the “intrigue” of Hungarian left-wing MEPs is a blatant lie.
According to Ujhelyi, the government lied to the teachers and society at large, since the commitment to pay teachers was only included in the government’s EU plan after teachers started demonstrating and the European Union identified the sector’s pay settlement as a requirement and a priority. He added that, on top of all this, the drawdown of the EU funds intended for this purpose, i.e. the implementation of the pay rise, depends solely on the Orbán government and its failure to uphold the guarantees of the rule of law.
The MSZP MEP recalled that back in the day, the Social Democrats had already warned that the original plan submitted by the government would not be acceptable to the EU either in form or in content, due to the lack of consultation and the proposals ignoring the real situation in the country. Ujhelyi said that an important achievement was that the government – thanks to the effective work of Minister Tibor Navracsics – had realised over time that “if you ask the EU for money, you also have to consider the professional proposals.”
According to the Socialist MEP, the government document sent to Brussels describes with surprising honesty and self-criticism the crisis in education and that one of the important solutions to this crisis is to increase teachers’ salaries; the commitments now made are also finally largely in line with the country-specific recommendations issued by the European Commission. István Ujhelyi said in a video broadcast on his social media page that the government plans to spend around one billion euros, or roughly 400 billion forints, from the new package it has recently presented called the Human Resources Development Programme Plus. This will be spent (supplemented later, of course, with state resources) on financing the teachers’ career model as part of a budget framework programme of nearly 13 thousand billion forints until 2027, committing to raise the average salary of teachers to at least 80 per cent of the average salary of graduates.
At the press briefing, MEP István Ujhelyi also pointed out that “this is winning only the first half of the match”, as it will be futile to reach an agreement on professional issues on the basis of the rewritten and newly submitted programme plan if they only remain on paper, because the funds will still be unavailable due to objections on the rule of law. According to Ujhelyi, although Tibor Navracsics can successfully negotiate the technical objections, the issue of freezing the funds depends on a significant change in Viktor Orbán and his policies, such as the elimination of state corruption and ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the media, which in turn depends solely on the political decision of the government, or more precisely the Prime Minister. “If even a single forint is lost, it is the sole responsibility of Orbán and his government,” István Ujhelyi confirmed.

Brussels/Budapest – 3/8/2022

Time for Fidesz to Nominate New Head of Government to Lead Hungary!

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fotó: Beliczay László (MTI/MTVA)

fotó: Beliczay László (MTI/MTVA)

Viktor Orbán has become a liability. The past period has clearly and unambiguously shown that the current head of government is incapable of bringing peace and reaching an agreement with the European Union. For more than fifteen months now, there has been no agreement on the more than HUF 6,000 billion in recovery funds due to Hungary, and the entering into force of the rule of law procedures has put the additional HUF 13,000 billion in funding due to us from the EU budget for the coming years in real danger. It is already certain that the EU will freeze all funds because of the Fidesz government’s rampage anti-European fight over the past decade, but the question is how much and for how long. The government is well aware of this, as Brussels informed it in detail during the negotiations, however, Fidesz is hiding this information from the Hungarian public. Even a single euro cent lost is a serious loss for Hungary, especially if it is actually caused by a single person and that person’s dead-end policy.
Every single EU subsidy Hungary is entitled to could be saved and drawn down immediately if the government could finally reach an agreement with the European Union and gave the necessary guarantees, made the commitments, stopped corruption at state level and restored the rule of law according to European standards. The vision of the current Fidesz leader over the past decade has been built on the abundance of money, the scaremongering with created enemies and there mock defeats. However, the covid pandemic, the climate crisis, the global economic crisis that is intensifying along these lines, and then Russian aggression, which is amplifying the negative impacts, are crumbling the Fidesz superstructure like a house of cards; but alas, the security of Hungarian families’ livelihoods is crumbling with it, too. Twelve years of two-thirds mandate have resulted in a greased and misguidedly arrogant Fidesz elite and a country with a weakened immune system, which is almost defenceless in the face of global crises. If Viktor Orbán were able to make a real turnaround, a real compromise and peace around him, the whole country’s burdens would be eased. But as it is, he continues to hold the country hostage, including his own political community, in the grip of the intoxication and financial spiral of autocratic power. It is time for Fidesz to realise that it simply will not work with Orbán. And this is no longer a game.
Many rightly question the fairness of the last election – even the OSCE report – but it is pointless to doubt the result: Fidesz has the majority in Parliament and gives us the Prime Minister. Therefore, it is the duty and responsibility of the Fidesz community to secure the majority behind the government and the Prime Minister. It is clear and perceptible that within Fidesz, too, there is a growing awareness that with Orbán, a clash is inevitable; we are not stopping at the wall, but are increasingly sure that we will smash into it. Not only the government, but also we Hungarians, all of us. Orbán is most definitely a great cardsharp, who most of the time gets his way, but now his luck cannot be trusted; if we do not want the whole country to see the serious and irreversible damage of further gambling, it is time to change the striker. It does happen. They also take off the captain when he’s tired, or when a different formation is needed, when a different game needs to be played. Orbán himself said that he doesn’t have that long left in politics. More precisely, he said: “I have already been paid. Every day I spend on the high shelf is just a bonus.” This statement was made more than ten years ago, so he’s had a fair bit of the bonus. Surely there must be someone in Fidesz – we know, we can see, that there are people who have been preparing for this for a long time – who feels up to the task, who might be able to make peace with Europe, who would strive for real national unity at home, at least on certain issues, and who might be able to lead our country out of the crisis. Viktor Orbán is simply not capable of this, and he is now clearly a liability. It is Fidesz’s responsibility to decide how much longer it will allow the fate of the country to be put at risk just so that he can stay on the ‘high shelf’. The governing parties like to say that the country comes first. I agree. And not just on a poster.

István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
31 July, 2022