Fidesz obstructs creation of EU standards for healthcare


245654797_4971934606154019_7430099776183262144_nFidesz tends to waffle in its own peculiar way when it comes to the implementation of the European Health Union.

Instead of changing their narrative back and forth, it would be good if they could finally make their position clear once and for all on this revolutionary programme and on ensuring quality healthcare in the long term.

For example, a Fidesz MEP, Tamás Deutsch has previously called the concept of the European Health Union “a walking European-style screw-up”, while another Fidesz MEP, Edina Tóth, said she did not think that the minimum quality requirements in healthcare that I have proposed under the programme are needed. In fact, when I sent a formal request to the Secretary of State for Health to implement the programme as widely as possible, I received a primarily dismissive response from the government, some arrogant text defending the sanctity of national competences.

In contrast, at today’s meeting of the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, the members of the committee are discussing a government proposal on suggestions pertaining to the establishment of a European Health Union. In this draft parliamentary resolution, the Hungarian legislature would state that they welcome the Brussels proposals to establish a European Health Union (in particular, the strengthening of EU health agencies) and that they consider it necessary to draw lessons from the COVID pandemic at EU level. The draft resolution also states the need to promote stronger coordination at EU level, while stressing that there is no need for “harmonization of health care among the Member States.” The latter, however, means that Fidesz believes it is right for a European citizen living in a Western European country to receive better quality care than a Hungarian citizen and that it is also OK for someone in Hungary to be three times more likely to get a hospital-acquired infection than in Germany.

The concept of the European Health Union is not just about tackling COVID, but about correcting the extreme disparities and quality of public health care in the Member States. Those who want EU standard and high-quality care in Hungarian healthcare also support the development of quality standards. The Hungarian Government therefore, for the time being, just waffles regarding this issue and obstructs the overall and long-term sustainable improvement of the quality of healthcare.

István Ujhelyi

Budapest/Brussels – 18.10.2021.

Pegasus-scandal: Orbán Government’s Skulking Threat to European Community


220234956_380034820402749_9218263365945349337_nThe global Pegasus spyware scandal is also high on the agenda of today’s plenary session of the European Parliament. I have submitted the following written commentary on the matter as a Hungarian MEP:

“There is no question that the Pegasus spyware case is an international scandal that cannot remain without meaningful consequences. Extensive fact-finding work by journalists and investigations carried out in several countries since then have proven that the spy software was used by some government related or other organizations to monitor journalists, opposition politicians or even state leaders. It is an important fact that, according to the information available to us to date, the current Hungarian government led by Viktor Orbán is the only one among the European Union Member States to be in possession of this software.

It is a fact that Fidesz uses every possible means to obstruct the investigation of the use of this software in Hungary, obstructs the work of the Hungarian Parliament’s relevant committee, and refuses to disclose data of public interest that may arise in this case, in contravention of the law.

We know for a fact that the Orbán government has authorized a record number of surveillance operations as of late, but all information regarding the background of these operations is kept secret.

The very fact that a European Union Member State is involved in this serious international scandal must have appropriate consequences. The Orbán government’s skulking in this matter is also a serious threat to the European Community. That is why I expect EU institutions to use all possible means to force the Orbán government to account for its use of the Pegasus software and prove, with adequate guarantees, that it did not use the spyware for the immoral surveillance of journalists, politicians or even European partners. Clarity is in the interest not only of Hungarian people, but also of the European Community at large.”

István Ujhelyi

Member of the European Parliament

Budapest/Strasbourg – 15.09.2021.

Ujhelyi: Hungary is not a Russian colony!

fotó: MTI

fotó: MTI

The Hungarian government must make it clear during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tomorrow that we expect them to speed up the approval of the Russian vaccine in Europe and provide all the necessary documentation, said Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi at an online press conference on Monday.

According to the MSZP MEP, the Hungarian and Russian governments must jointly address the problem that Hungarians vaccinated with Sputnik are subject to significant restrictions when traveling to the majority of European Member States in the absence of an EU licence, as the Russian vaccine is currently not automatically accepted in the common European certification system.

According to Ujhelyi, the European Union has indicated in advance that it will not automatically accept vaccines without a European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorization, and it is therefore a result of the “stubbornness” of the Orbán government that the current situation has arisen.

The Socialist politician stressed that by adopting the European Parliament’s proposal, the final legislation now contains a loophole that Member States can conclude individual agreements with each other on the single EU COVID certificate and accept other vaccines, such as Sputnik, on the basis of bilateral agreements. “It is the government’s homework to reach a similar agreement with EU Member States after Uzbekistan and Mongolia, as currently most EU Member States do not accept Eastern vaccines,” Ujhelyi added. According to the Socialist MEP, the government also made a mistake when it did not convince its Russian and Chinese business partners to obtain the necessary European licences before starting to administer the vaccines.

At the press conference, István Ujhelyi also said that the EMA has been investigating the Sputnik vaccine since January because, unlike the Chinese, the Russian party at least submitted the necessary application. However, the MEP pointed out, according to the latest official communication, the EMA has still not received all the necessary and requested documentation, so the authorization is delayed. “Lavrov’s visit to Budapest is the moment when the Hungarian government may have a chance to convince and persuade its Russian counterpart to speed up the licensing procedure. This is in the interest of many hundreds of thousands of Hungarian citizens,” Ujhelyi said, adding that Sergei Lavrov will surely understand that “Hungary is not a Russian colony” but part of the EU, therefore, Hungary follows the common European regulations. “If a Member State’s Government circumvents this, there will be consequences,” the MSZP MEP said.

Budapest/Brussels – 23.08.2021.

“Soul Vaccination”: Gergely Gulyás and István Ujhelyi to support common cause


soul“The task and the goal are common, this is a cause that goes beyond party politics,” said Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office Gergely Gulyás and Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi in a joint video following the professional consultation on the proposals on the mental health situation of children in the context of the covid19 epidemic.

As is known, in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Public Health, the MSZP politician had previously promoted a program called “Soul Vaccination”, in which he drew attention to the psychological impacts of the coronavirus and the need for government action in this area. Gergely Gulyás then invited the representative of MSZP and the professional organizations he had proposed for consultation, with whom a comprehensive and concrete package of proposals was prepared and presented to the government.

In addition to the MSZP representative, Zsuzsanna Szabó and Tamás Totyik from the Trade Union of Teachers, Erzsébet Nagy and Tibor Fehér from the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers, head of UNICEF Hungary’s children’s rights department Viola Szlankó, and State Secretary for Public Education Zoltán Maruzsa participated in the meeting on Monday afternoon. The joint package of proposals prepared by István Ujhelyi and the experts includes, among other things, an urgent and comprehensive assessment of the state of the school psychologist network currently in place and the mental health impact of the coronavirus epidemic on children. They also called for a general information campaign to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and the possibilities for getting mental health support. 

Reducing the workload of teachers and school psychologists, and increasing the number of school psychologists, including through the addition of qualified mental health professionals on contract, was a point of emphasis in the package.  Another proposal on the government’s table was that teachers should receive appropriate professional training in mental health as soon as possible, so that they can identify and help children suffering from mental health problems as a result of the epidemic.

In the video recorded after the meeting, Gergely Gulyás said: “We need to minimize the damage caused by online education, which is why the government has always been in favour of the introduction of face-to-face education in Hungary, when the epidemic allows it. The Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office said that there was no obstacle to the start of face-to-face education from September and that the government was open to professional proposals on the mental health situation of children. “We hope that we can eliminate as much as possible the problems caused by the challenging period of the past year and a half,” Gergely Gulyás said.

Following the meeting, István Ujhelyi, the initiator of the Soul Vaccine program said that it was an exceptional situation standing up for a cause together with a government representative, but, as he said, the mental impacts of the epidemic were also exceptional. Referring to a survey by UNICEF Hungary, Ujhelyi pointed out that more than half of Hungarian parents had noticed some negative mental changes in their children’s behaviour during the epidemic, but only a fraction of them had received help. Ujhelyi confirmed that the government had been constructive and open to the proposals made jointly with trade union and children’s rights experts. “If no concrete steps shall be taken after this, I promised Minister Gulyás that I will keep pushing, I will not let this issue fade out. This must be a cause that transcends party interests both in Hungary and the European Union”, István Ujhelyi concluded in the joint video.

Budapest/Brussels – 17.08.2021.

Ujhelyi: they are likely to refer to administrative reasons when delaying Gergely Karácsony’s referendum


kair-ujh“All politicians and oligarchs who abuse laws and EU funds beware, because if we get to replace Orbán’s regime next year, the first thing we will do is join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office,” said Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi at his online press conference on Thursday. He confirmed that his party fully supports the five-question referendum on, among other things, joining the EU Public Prosecutor’s Office, which was put forward by prime ministerial candidate Gergely Karácsony.

MSZP’s European politician added that the current government will probably hinder the referendum with reference to administrative reasons, but that the opposition community must make it clear that it is united in its support for the referendum questions and for joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The latter is confirmed by the polls, too: according to the latest survey by Závecz Research, the majority in Hungary is in favour of accession; and even among Fidesz voters, there are more who support cooperation with the EU prosecutor than those that do not.

At the press conference, Ujhelyi stressed that “Orbán and his regime are running” from the European Public Prosecutor’s Office because they fear any independent body that can “look into their dirty games”. The Socialist politician pointed out that Hungary is the ultimate EU leader in fraud and irregularities committed with EU funds, and one of the most important findings of the recently published rule of law report was that EU public funds are not safe in the system set up by the Hungarian government. 

Ujhelyi stressed that this is why the European Union is considering a possible freeze on funds, and not, as the government propaganda claims, because of the adoption of the homophobic law. “If we do not want Hungary to lose money and if we want to receive in time and use the unbelievable amount of EU funds that Hungary is entitled to, the Hungarian government must put the rule of law in order. If the current one is unwilling to that, the next one will,” Ujhelyi added.

Budapest/Brussels – 29.07.2021.

MSZP launches series of debates and discussions on Future of European Union



LEZ_9939Viktor Orbán’s politics is a dead end in Europe, Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi said at an online press conference on Sunday held together with Deputy Mayor of Budapest Kata Tüttő.

Speaking at the opening of the EU’s programme series on the future of the European Union, Ujhelyi stressed that while Fidesz is leading Hungary out of the European Community, according to the democratic opposition’s values Hungary only has a future in Europe. At the same time, the Socialist politician added that the operation of the EU clearly needs to be reformed, and people must be asked about the details and directions of this reform.

Ujhelyi announced that since the government had failed to consult Hungarians on this matter, MSZP would take on the task and in the coming months, as part of the programme announced by the European Union, would launch a series of debates and discussions with NGOs, advocacy groups, trade unions and citizens. The Socialist MEP said that each month an all-round debate on a specific subject would be held, mainly online. According to Ujhelyi, the current Fidesz government’s European policy only serves the petty power greed of the “ruling kleptocracy”, so that Orbán’s abuse of the rule of law or the way he spends EU money cannot be criticized at home or indeed in the EU.

Deputy Mayor of Budapest Kata Tüttő, who took part in the opening event of the conference series on the future of the EU in Strasbourg as the Socialist member of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union, was the first Hungarian to address the plenary debate. At the press conference, Kata Tüttő said that the new citizen-led European programme series aims to involve as many people as possible in shaping the EU: an online platform has been created, which is also available in Hungarian, and a number of events organised by the Commission will help the discussion, too. “Our hope is that these debates and discussions will help us identify areas where we will be needing more EU involvement in the future, and others where we will need less. We want a European Union that is more in line with who we are now and what we see in the world today”, said Kata Tüttő, adding that a long process had begun, but the comments also made it clear that substantive work and real change was underway.

Kata Tüttő and István Ujhelyi had previously also initiated and organized a social campaign pertaining to the future of the European Union. In 2018, during an online consultation called “Our Europe”, more than 20,000 people filled in the Socialists’ questionnaire, and the results confirmed that the overwhelming majority of people support Hungary’s membership of the EU, a significant majority want to join the eurozone as soon as possible and would like to see more EU funds spent on health, for example.

You can follow the newly announced series of discussions on the transformation of the European Union on MSZP’s social media sites. The online consultation platform set up by the European Commission can be accessed at

Strasbourg/Budapest – 20.07.2021





8pont engSOUL VACCINE – Mental Action Plan for Post-Covid Phenomena

The protracted pandemic has posed a serious mental health challenge to almost all of humanity, including us Europeans.

The mental and psychological effects of the covid virus affect not only the members of the infected population, but also those who, although they have been spared the virus, have suffered significant mental impacts due to restrictions, reduced social contacts, negative economic consequences and forced changes in lifestyle. In other words, almost all people.

According to a Boston analysis (synthesising related research from several countries) published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Medical, one in three people who have been infected with the virus suffer from some form of post-covid illness: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other neurological complications.

Research is ongoing (e.g., at the Department of Developmental Psychology at ELTE-Faculty of Education and Psychology and through an initiative of UNICEF Hungary) on the extent of mental distress among those who have not contracted the virus but have been psychologically damaged by restrictions, quarantine, disruption of social relationships, livelihood insecurity or extreme stress.

We can already safely say that a significant proportion of society has been mentally affected and is still suffering from the coronavirus epidemic and its aftermath. In February this year, the European Commission, in collaboration with five children’s rights organizations, published a survey showing that one in five children are distressed and unhappy because of the virus and one in ten have been found to have specific symptoms of mental health problems (e.g. depression). UNICEF’s Hungarian Young Ambassadors, as well as SOS Children’s Villages’ own research, confirmed that anxiety and feelings of emptiness among young people had increased significantly, with nearly two-thirds reporting unusual fatigue and more than half also reporting regular sleep disturbances in relation to the covid-quarantine period.

Professionals have said that even before the coronavirus epidemic, nearly a quarter of young Hungarians were already experiencing mental health problems: but their care and support is severely limited by a lack of professionals. According to publicly available data, there is a shortage not only of child psychiatrists, but also of psychologists, physiotherapists and other mental health professionals.

In fact, even before the pandemic, depression was the second most common cause of long-term disability, ahead only of cardiovascular diseases – in other words, mental health is inescapably important because of its impact on society and, by extension, the economy.

We know from statements by experts and from figures previously published by the state that Educational Specialist Services and school psychologists are radically overburdened. For this reason, it is not uncommon for a parent and their child to have to wait six months before they can be admitted to individual psychological care or even an anxiety-relief group. Most Hungarian kindergartens and schools have a psychologist, but even so, there are many unfilled positions in the country, so that in many cases there is one school psychologist for every 450 children, and students often remain without care.

The right to physical and mental health is a fundamental human right. Therefore, there should not be a single kindergarten, school or other educational institution in the country where a full-time mental health professional is not available.

The EU4Health programme, launched by the European Union with a budget of €5.1 billion, has as one of its objectives to improve mental health. A strategy for the effective use of the EU4Health programme should be developed in cooperation with civil society and professional organizations. Strengthening mental health is also a priority in the concept of the European Health Union, which I have partly initiated and developed, and therefore enhanced coordination at EU level is needed to achieve these common objectives as effectively as possible.

It is essential to strengthen the infrastructural conditions for mental health and psychological support networks. The Széchenyi2020 programme includes a HUF 6 billion investment in the development of the child and youth psychiatric, addiction and mental healthcare system, but most of the investments have not happened to date, and the deadlines have been extended by two years.

As a member of the European Parliament’s Public Health Committee and one of the drafters of the European Health Union concept, I propose an 8-point action plan for the attention of the government and professional organizations:


An immediate and comprehensive assessment should be made of the current status, operation and availability of psychological and mental health services in Hungary, of the specialized psychiatric clinics available on a health insurance basis, as well as the network of school psychologists. Taking into account the outcome of this, an extraordinary “National Mental Action Plan” should be made to assess and address the mental health impacts of the epidemic, involving civil and professional organizations, support services, student and adult advocacy groups. (Same process in every memberstate is recommended)


All possible EU programmes, instruments and European budgetary resources should be used to promote health programmes, including prevention campaigns and professional mental health initiatives. To this end, I call for a strategic consultation of both the European and the Hungarian professional and civil society organizations concerned.


An EU wide comprehensive campaign is needed to promote mental health protection, including the use of mental health support provided by professionals. People need to be made aware that it is “NOT UNCOOL to consult a psychologist or a mental health professional; in fact, continued maintenance of our mental health is essential to preserving our physical health.


We need to reduce the overall workload of professionals, but at the same time increase the amount of time spent on children. In the current law (CXXIX of 2013 – on the regulation of education), school psychologists are required to work 22 hours a week, which should be increased to 30 hours a week, or 6 hours a day, in stages, to allow more time for children. However, the latter can only be achieved and expected if the state creates the necessary infrastructure, human resources and funding as soon as possible.


One of the first steps to alleviate the shortage of professionals is to amend the relevant legislation to broaden the range of professionals available and to allow, for example, the inclusion of qualified mental health professionals in the school psychology network.


To overcome the shortage of professionals, training needs to be strengthened by reviewing the current role of higher education in psychology and mental health. Access to undergraduate psychology courses should be made easier for professionals who already hold a higher degree in a related field (e.g. mental health, pre-school teacher) by ensuring that, if they apply, their relevant professional degree is sufficient credit for automatic admission to the undergraduate course.


It is of the utmost importance that mental health support for teachers and other professionals working with children should be available on an ongoing basis in the future. Specific, targeted training should be provided now, already before the new school-year starts in September, for teachers in nursery schools and schools on how to deal with the phenomena associated with covid and its mental effects: what to do, how to deal with it themselves and when to refer to a specialist.

  1. DEDICATED YEAR – 2022

As part of the comprehensive campaign, I call for EU Member States to launch a “European Year of Mental Health” in 2022, building on the experience of the covid period, with targeted programmes to strengthen mental health protection and develop cooperation between Member States in this field.

Budapest/Brussels – 2021.05.24.

Tamás Jordán: “The Orban-regime does not understand how Karácsony has the courage to be calm!”


eree“They are starting to be afraid” – this is how the actor Tamás Jordán explained the government’s vehement attack on Gergely Karácsony, who is running for prime minister.

The Actor of the Nation spoke about this in the latest episode of the video series of Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi entitled HETI KETTES UJHELYIVEL (Weekly Two with Ujhelyi). Tamás Jordán makes no secret of his support for the current mayor in the race for prime minister, which is why his name is among the founders of the 99Movement announced by Karácsony.

In the video discussion on social media, the actor said, among other things, that he does not understand why some people think it is okay that billions of forints are disappearing in the country. “I am friends with Gergely Karácsony, I have always respected what he does. I think he’s the right person to put things in order (…) You don’t always have to fight with a snarl, you have to listen to the other party, as well. Karácsony is looking for compromise even where it’s impossible, and this suggests that he will find a common ground with the country.

His programme is also based on the need to unite this divided country,” Tamás Jordán said in the video. During his conversation with István Ujhelyi, the actor added that he believed the current authorities were attacking the MSZP-Dialogue candidate for prime minister because they don’t understand “what makes him so brave that he dares to be so calm?”

In the latest episode of WEEKLY TWO WITH UJHELYI, the mental health package of proposals advocated by István Ujhelyi is also discussed, which Jordán also called important and assured the MEP of his support. He said that there is a general sense of panic and desperation in the world of theatre because of the livelihood problems caused by covid restrictions.

“There are so many desperate, hopeless artists,” he added, agreeing that mental health support should be strengthened and expanded as soon as possible. The European programme of free train passes for 18-year-olds was also discussed in the video interview, and the actor unexpectedly also recited an Endre Ady-poem that is poignantly relevant to Hungary today.

Brussels/Budapest – 21.05.2021.

Ujhelyi: Future of FreeInteRail Pass Scheme Secured on Long Run


ujjeeAnother success, another important milestone in securing the future of the free InterRail season ticket programme that I mentor: the European Parliament has just adopted by a large majority in its plenary session the framework budget for the Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027, including the DiscoverEU programme for free train passes.

It as an important and hard-fought achievement that the Erasmus+ funding envelope will be almost double the one for the previous period: it is now around €28 billion, which helps increase the number of people benefiting from Erasmus+, expand the range of grants for learning abroad and simplify accessibility. For me, it is an historic success that, despite the efforts of many opponents, we have managed to include the free InterRail pass programme in Erasmus+, which will ensure the long-term operation of this pioneering programme, at least for the next seven years.

Therefore, thousands of young Hungarians will again be able to benefit from free train passes in the coming period, with this year’s combined application opening in October; travel will be possible after the epidemic has passed, of course. This year alone, around 1 100 young Hungarians will be able to apply for the passes, including those who missed out last year due to covid restrictions.

The idea for “FreeInterRail” came from two young German activists, Vincent-Immanuel Herr and Martin Speer, who proposed a few years ago that the European Union surprise every young person in Europe with a free train pass on their 18th birthday. I was one of the first people to take on the initiative and supported it until implementation, with EPP Group President Manfred Weber and former EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics also on board, which played a major role later on. During the pilot period of the programme, more than 350,000 young Europeans signed up, of whom more than 70,000 received a free train pass. The success of the initiative is also demonstrated by the fact that the number of oversubscriptions for the passes available in Hungary was almost ten times higher than the number of applications received, and the programme has won numerous awards, including the European Excellence Award.

MEP István Ujhelyi

Brussels/Budapest – 19.05.2021.


Gergő, You Can Count on Me!


uikg2I want to live in the kind of country that Gergely Karácsony painted yesterday. Where freedom, peace and, oh how this word has disappeared in the last ten years, humanity reign at last.

Where it is not a narrow party elite that decides who is a true Hungarian, who is a true patriot, who can get a tobacconist’s store, who can apply for an EU tender, who can even get to breathe. I too want a Hungary where not a privileged elite of 1 per cent rules everything, but where government decisions finally serve the interests of the 99 per cent. It was heart-warming to listen to Gergely Karácsony talk about rebuilding the republic, restoring the rule of law and reparations. There was no trace of hatred, arrogance or anger towards people who think differently in his words. He spoke with a voice of humanity. We have not heard such speeches for a long time.

If there is anyone who can finally bring some peace to this country that has been dragged into an intellectual civil war, it is Gergely Karácsony. If there is anyone who, with his openness and his willingness to compromise (much attacked, still one of his outstanding values) can finally bury the trenches left after the Orange Storm, it is Gergely Karácsony. Because next year, we need not just a change of government, but a change of era and regime. The reunification of the country and the nation, and the dismissal of the few who are chewing the country’s body to the bone. The 99 per cent referred to by Gergely Karácsony are not right-wing or left-wing, they are simply Hungarian. We, all of us. I know for a fact that there are many in the upper echelons of Fidesz who are ashamed to add their names to this plundering, this hedonistic robbery. I know exactly how many of Fidesz’s supporters are also sickened by the plastic aristocracy of the National Cooperation System’s (NER) elite, by the luxury bought with public money, by the expensive high-life of cheap people. This 1 per cent, the predatory elite, must be removed next year and put to rest, and there is room for everyone else in the 99 per cent: because we are all needed to reunite the country. Finally, the divisions can come to an end.

I want to live in a country led by Gergely Karácsony. Because his knowledge, experience and humanity will make Hungary a better place. You may say that I am biased, because we have known each other since we were fourteen years old, we were schoolmates at the Tóth Árpád High School in Debrecen. But this is more than supporting an old friend. As a family man with six children, a Hungarian MEP, a proud social democrat and a proud Hungarian patriot, I stand behind Gergely Karácsony in his capacity as a candidate for Prime Minister, and join the 99Movement he has launched and announced. Gergő, you can count on me!

You can find the 99Movement’s website here:

After the Hungarian PM’s landmark speech in Tusványos in 2014, in which he proclaimed his desire to turn Hungary into an illiberal state, as a MEP I pledged to draw the public’s attention to the crimes of this regime in an open letter every week. This is the 298th  time I ring the bells of alarm, as it still seems necessary. And also, because as a radical European Democrat, it is my duty to do so.

István Ujhelyi

Member of the European Parliament

16 May 2021.