Led by S&Ds, the Parliament demands urgent legislation for an intelligent transport system


29104186_2054848064532444_6477283249029644288_oDespite speedy technological advancements, of which citizens and the environment could benefit, the EU is still not properly prepared for the emerging industrial and digital revolution in the transport sector. Particularly, when it comes to using all the potential of connected car data, the EU is lagging behind the US and China.

Today the European Parliament plenary backed a report drafted by S&D MEP István Ujhelyi which calls for a swift introduction of interoperable Cooperative Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) services throughout Europe. Such a system would lead to safer and more environmentally friendly traffic solutions for European citizens.

The author of the parliamentary report, István Ujhelyi, said:
“Together, we reached an extremely important milestone concerning C-ITS. Automation is knocking at the door and all vehicles should be able to communicate and be connected with each other and the infrastructure of C-ITS.
“We have mature technologies for C-ITS today and for the future; we support technological neutrality only with backward compatibility. This is the key element for secure and safe mobility all over Europe. I am a strong believer that the European Commission will understand the importance of connected car data.
“The Parliament calls on the European Commission to come forward with a regulatory proposal on access to car data by no later than the end of this year, to ensure a secure, consumer-friendly and competitive approach.“

S&D spokesperson on transport, Ismail Ertug MEP, said:
“C-ITS systems are an important step towards automated driving and will enhance road safety, not only for drivers but also for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. As data generated by these applications could contribute to better traffic management and urban planning, it is important that the European Commission draws up legislative action to ensure a consistent European approach.”

Strasbourg, 13.03.2018.

Hungarian success in Monte-Carlo: Istvan Ujhelyi elected as ambassador of the circus


c2Istvan Ujhelyi, Member of the European Parliament representing the Hungarian socialists has been elected as global ambassador of the circus at the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival.
The title is awarded annually by Princess Stéphanie of Monaco at the gathering of circus directors – no European politician has received this honor ever before. Mr Ujhelyi was awarded for his devoted work for the interests of the circus industry striving to introduce new projects revitalizing and renewing the world of circus.
As the Member of the European Parliament responsible for tourism, the Hungarian politician has initiated a number of programmes including the “Circus Manifesto” or the “BigTopLabel”, a special quality assurance system for circuses similar to the Michelin-stars for restaurants. The BigTopLabel – presented at depth at this year’s circus festival in Monte-Carlo – aims to establish minimum quality standards concerning labour rights, services, or even animal welfare issues.
“As an outsider, it is as surprising as honoring to become the ambassador of the circus, all the more that this happened at the 250th anniversary of modern circus art. Being responsible for European tourism policies I know exactly the economic, social, and educational value circus represents. Although circus  – and its economic and cultural potential – is still not properly represented in the institutional framework of the EU, we have already achieved an important goal: after more than a decade, the European Commission will prepare a comprehensive research paper evaluating the situation of European circuses” – said Mr Ujhelyi following the award ceremony.

21. 01. 2018 – Monte-Carlo, Monaco

Socialist MEP outlines plan to help curb emigration


27 September 2017, EU financing for innovation in tourism Belgium - Brussels - September 2017 © European Union/Nuno Rodrigues István UJHELYI, Member of the European Parliament, Vice-chair of the Tourism Task Force at the Committee for Transport and Tourism

Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi on Sunday presented a ten-point plan to help reduce the emigration of Hungarians. Ujhelyi told a press conference that he had consulted with Hungarians living and working abroad while putting together the proposal which he said he hoped would serve as a “national minimum” for curbing emigration.

The plan proposes the establishment of a state secretariat for emigration affairs, strengthening foreign representative offices, the launch of a rental housing scheme and a programme to promote real wage growth, he said. Further, the first degree for university students should be made tuition-free and the VAT on household internet services should be scrapped, Ujhelyi added.

He also proposed setting up Hungarian language schools abroad, first of all in London. Under the plan, Hungarian emigrants would be allowed to cast their votes by mail or electronically, Ujhelyi added. He said he wanted as many parliamentary parties as possible to comment on the proposal during the upcoming election campaign. Ujhelyi said that 600,000 people have emigrated from Hungary in recent years, adding that certain surveys indicate that a further one million people could follow in their footsteps.

“This will be a new, modern-age Trianon for Hungary,” Ujhelyi said, referring to the WWI peace treaty under which two-thirds of Hungary’s territory was ceded to neighbouring countries. He stressed that today’s emigrants are generally members of the youngest, most venturesome generation who are ready to start families.

The Socialist MEP said it was “tragic” that the government was “ignoring” the issue and only cared about the fact that Hungarians working abroad were transferring 900 billion forints a year (EUR 2.9bn) of remittances.

(dailynewshungary.com; 05.11.2017)

What you need to know about the European Year of cultural heritage


parlamg1Nobody would deny that cultural heritage pervades every layer of our societies and fundamentally defines how we live our lives on a daily basis. Yet, few would be able to provide even a vague – let alone comprehensive – description of just what cultural heritage really is.
Although there is no universally accepted definition, according to the United Nations cultural heritage is “the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations”. Put simply, cultural heritage is cross-border in scope and supranational in nature, while embracing everything from customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values to natural or built environment and oral history. Preserving our cultural heritage stems from the natural thirst to value and care for things, objects or landscapes that we collectively enjoy as a group of people. That said, it is important to underline that Europe has always been at the forefront of cultural preservation, which is an indispensable motor for economic growth. Am I jumping fast to conclusions? Let me explain.
The fact that Europe has long been the world’s number one tourist destination is largely due to our successful efforts to preserve our cultural heritage more effectively than others. In 2016 alone, Europe registered more than 615 million international arrivals, a number that, according to projections, will in the foreseeable future rise to one billion. This is how tourism became the third largest economic sector in Europe after construction and trade, generating about 10 per cent of the EU’s annual GDP.
Needless to say that such an influx of tourists fuels economic growth even in the most remote parts of Europe, favouring SMEs and providing for the livelihood of more than 13 million people – many of whom are below the age of 30 – whose only opportunity to avoid sliding into the dark abyss of youth unemployment is finding a job in the tourism sector. Preserving our cultural heritage is one of the best indirect tools at our disposal to maintain economic development and create jobs at the same time.
Beyond its obviously advantageous – however indirect – effects on the economy, cultural heritage is perhaps the most prominent facilitator of social cohesion across European societies. If I may, here is a boring commonplace: we are living challenging times. Destructive populism is omnipresent, extremist ideologies are alive and kicking, and Europe is still at the centre of the greatest humanitarian crisis witnessed since the Second World War. As overstated and banal this might sound, if we fail to find the remedy to these pressing issues we risk the emergence of irreversible social disintegration trends in the imminent future.
But there is one thing that usually all societies share: a form of collective identity, an abstract sense of belonging that we might as well call cultural heritage. One could argue it is the glue that keeps communities united even during the most critical times. Europe is undoubtedly in possession of such shared common identity and the sheer existence of the EU is the prime example for it – even if all too often we take its achievements for granted. Cherishing our common cultural heritage, therefore, is more than a noble mission: it is our duty.
I am delighted that, following the initiative of Tibor Navracsics, European education, culture, youth and sport Commissioner, the European institutional system started to realise the significance of this topic by announcing that 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The next year will be a defining moment for European cultural preservation projects, but it will make a difference only if we look beyond the obvious and put emphasis on those facets of our culture and art that had been neglected for too long. Circus arts, for example, are an integral part of European culture that provides quality entertainment, but also has a strong social and moral value; the circus shows an example of respect for traditions, cooperation, trust, partnership, internationality, and intercultural dialogue.
As 2018 will mark the 250th anniversary of modern circus arts, the industry should receive distinguished recognition throughout the celebrations and programmes of the concurrent European Year of Cultural Heritage. Similarly, innovative projects focusing on younger generations – like the FreeInterrail initiative – should be encouraged in order to empower our youth with an early understanding of cultural diversity and the values it embodies. I am concluding this article with the hope that 2018 can provide the necessary impetus that eventually paves the way towards a Europe where cultural awareness and social cohesion are both enhanced while it brings economic benefits at the same time. As elected representatives in the run-up to the 2019 European elections, it is our responsibility to act as agents of this endeavour, however arduous the process might be.

István Ujhelyi (S&D, HU) is a Vice-Chair of Parliament’s transport and tourism committee

The Parliament Magazine – 6 October 2017

The Orban-government has lost its touch with sanity


piriujhelyiThe outgoing Dutch ambassador in Hungary described an objective and precise picture of Hungarian political reality. Instead of sound arguments, the Orban-administration answers to criticism with pugnacious animosity reminiscent of lonely dictatorships. Although the governing Fidesz party has now officially cut ambassador-level diplomatic ties with the Netherlands they cut ties with sanity and with Europeanism as well. The Hungarian government’s actions only prove Ambassador Scheltema’s words that “Orban’s and his peers’ worldview based on the binary concept of pros and cons which defines who is friend or enemy. We, members of the European Parliament call on the Orban-government to put an end to the insanity that defines its diplomatic relations! Hungary’s place is in the European Union. The Netherlands is a defining, founding member of this community and a friend of the Hungarian nation. The criticism of the Dutch ambassador was merely aimed at the Orban-government and Fidesz, not Hungary or the Hungarian people. Orban’s politics are putting Hungary’s EU membership in jeopardy while the community is the only guarantee for Europe’s continued peace, stability and development.

Kati Piri, Hungarian-born Dutch Member of the European Parliament, member of the S&D Group
Istvan Ujhelyi, Hungarian Socialist Member of the European Parliament, member of the S&D Group


‘Big Top Label’ Rating System for European Circuses


ujhelyi_circusAs a continuation of the European Circus Manifesto, the European Union is working on classifying circuses in Europe based on a quality assurance rating system.

The Manifesto, which was signed by several European circus organizations in January, urged the circus community to address the needs and challenges of the changing state of circus arts in Europe. Istvan Ujhelyi, Vice Chair of Transport and Tourism Committee in the European Parliament, introduced the need for a coordinated policy in order to preserve the values of circus arts within the European Union. As part of his initiative, Ujhelyi presented a classification method, similar to the restaurant industry’s Michelin-star certification that provides a quality assurance system for European circuses.

The first workshop that determined the framework of the Big Top Label (BTL) took place in Brussels on the 31st of May. It was a historical event as two circus-theme meetings have never been held within 7 months at the European Parliament before.

The workshop focused on collecting ideas about how to establish an objective, effective, transparent, comprehensive and impartial system. European circus owners and independent experts will develop the guidelines of the rating system.

Mr. Urs Pilz, President of The Fédération Mondiale du Cirque and the European Circus Association, emphasized the importance of the creation of the new system and accentuated that both organizations are ready and willing to offer a platform and professional input for BTL.

The new project aims to distinguish circuses by quality regardless of whether they are small or big, whether they are traditional or new, with or without animals, touring or permanent, performing in tent, arena or theater.  It will be designed to operate all over Europe independently from national regulations.

June 26, 2017 CircusTalk

Orban is getting lost in his own maze of lies


18119458_1650478691632977_620250196622999725_nAfter the letter sent by Fidesz MEPs to EPP members trying to whitewash Orban’s anti-European actions, the Hungarian PM was summoned to explain himself in front of members of the EPP family. Orban has brought shame to Hungary and has been trapped in his own maze of lies. He does now know anymore what to advertise on billboards and what to say behind closed doors. Infringement procedures following the Fidesz-government’s aggressive actions will not fade into oblivion without consequences.
Orban has lost the battle and capitulated once again. If we are tired of being collectively punished as a people because of the actions of Orban’s illiberal system, we must change the Fidesz-government that is effectively Putin’s puppet regime. To do just this at the 2018 elections, Laszlo Botka represents our best and only chance.

MEP Istvan Ujhelyi
Vice-President of the Hungarian Socialist Party

Watch the magic, see the truth! – A social video-campaign for traditional circuses


DSC02319Today we celebrate both in Europe and globally the 8th World Circus Day, held on the third Saturday of April every year – originally an initiative of the Férédation Mondiale du Circe led by the Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.
This year, together with Princess Stéphanie and the International Circus Federation we are launching a Europe-wide social media video campaign for traditional circuses. Traditional circuses – soon celebrating their 250th anniversary – have been the subject of many falsely generalizing attacks in recent times, mainly due to the sustainability of animal shows, circus conditions and traditional circus elements. However, it is unfair to label every single representative of a 250-year old artistic form, just because a handful of them do not respect the rules and occasionally engage in truly repellent behaviour. We need to be able to differentiate between those exemplary circuses who follow written and unwritten rules and those who break them consciously. Therefore we have established a special quality assurance system, the “Big Top Label” that will guarantee both the acknowledgement of contemporary social demands and traditional values of circus art as well.
Circus art is an integral part of European culture and economy that provides millions of people with quality entertainment and thousands with their livelihood. Beyond the obvious cultural and economic merits it also has a strong social value; the circus shows an example of respect for traditions, cooperation, trust, partnership, internationality, and intercultural dialogue. Our video-campaign presented today on the World Circus Day further emphasizes this message: “Watch the magic, see the truth!”

István Ujhelyi,
MEP, responsible for tourism in the European Parliament

József Richter Jr.
Golden Pierrot-awarded Hungarian artiste, director of the Hungarian National Circus

15.04.2017, Budapest

Ryanair Supports EU ‘European Capital Of Tourism’ Project & Warns Of Brexit & Airport Charge Threats To Regional Tourism


ryan4Ryanair, Europe’s No.1 airline, today (11 Apr) hosted a round table discussion in the European Parliament aligning tourism and aviation policy agendas, where it announced its support for the ‘European Capital of Tourism’ initiative, a programme designed to boost tourism across the continent.

The event was sponsored by MEPs Istvan Ujhelyi (S&D, Hungary), Salvo Pogliese (EPP, Italy) and Claudia Tapardel (S&D, Romania) and was addressed by Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs, who emphasised that low cost aviation is a key driver of regional tourism and job growth, and outlined how dynamic and original aviation marketing can support tourism diversification.
Ryanair Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien highlighted the positive impact of low cost airline travel to and between Europe’s Regions for tourism, employment and social mobility, and how monopoly airport regimes and government passenger taxes distort markets to the Regions’ disadvantage. While Amar Breckenridge from Frontier Economics demonstrated the enormous potential impact of Brexit on tourism, with UK travel typically accounting for between 10% and 40% of total EU travel for Member States, the urgent need for clarity of air access post Brexit was highlighted.
Ryanair welcomed the European Capital of Tourism initiative, a pan-European programme modelled on the successful European Capital of Culture concept, which has been allocated a budget of €2.5m over the next three years, which will see cities and regions bidding for funding by submitting progressive and innovative tourism development programmes to the European Commission.

In Brussels, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said;
“As the largest airline in Europe, Ryanair is pleased to support the European Capital of Tourism initiative. Some 130m people will fly with Ryanair across the continent this year and we have seen first-hand the regional tourism growth and job creation that low cost aviation brings, especially for Europe’s youth. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with members of the European Parliament and with the European Commission on the European Capital of Tourism project, and we look forward to playing an important role in its development in the coming years. Much like Ryanair’s low fares, this will help put even more of Europe’s cities and regions on the map.”

ryan1In Brussels, Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien said;
“Ryanair now flies to over 200 destinations in 34 countries and the potential for further growth in existing and unexplored markets is vast. However, regional tourism is particularly vulnerable to monopoly airport regimes and passenger taxes which have no relationship with the fare paid by the customer. We welcome the European Commission’s review of the Airport Charges Directive, and call on the governments across Europe to lift the excessive tax burden from regional airports.”

István Ujhelyi, S&D, Chair of the Tourism Task Force said;
“Low cost aviation, together with tourism, could create jobs, sustain growth and enhance regional development. In the face of the current challenges we have in Europe, including Brexit, the 60th anniversary of the European community and the transnational threats we must remain united and voice our common interests. That is why I have prepared a document entitled European ReUnion, where I put forward progressive ideas to reorganise, rebuild, and re-orientate our union.
In this paper, one of the key messages is to find and establish the real decision-making link between the local community and the regions, at European level. I would like to give a bigger role, more responsibilities and political space for the regions and the regional representations in Brussels. The European Capital of Tourism is an excellent project to help this process.”

Claudia Tapardel, S&D, Co-Chair of the Tourism Intergroup said;
“Tourism and aviation are two strategically important sectors that make a strong contribution to the EU economy. As demand for travel increases, aviation can boost tourism by raising the profile of less known, but equally attractive destinations. This diversification of the offer will in turn deliver growth in more regions and therefore achieve the cohesion goals of the EU.In order to preserve Europe’s position as the world’s top touristic destination, it is now vital to ensure that there is a proper coordination between these sectors, and that policy reflects consumers’ expectations.”

Salvo Pogliese, European People’s Party MEP said;
“Low cost airline companies play an essential role in increasing the flow of tourism, leading to a significant growth in demand, the expansion of destinations and encouraging the seasonal adjustment. Therefore, the new European aviation and tourism agendas must take into account the important role played by low-cost airline companies.”

11 Apr 2017

Pittella: Orban’s attack on CEU is unacceptable. How can EPP remain silent? Fidesz must go.


ujhelyipittellaFollowing a draft law from Victor Orban’s government that would effectively ban the globally regarded Central European University (CEU) from operating in Hungary, S&D Group President Gianni Pittella said:
“After the attack on the media autonomy, now Orban is trying to silence another outstanding symbol of the freedom of thought and expression in Hungary: The Central European University. This is completely unacceptable and reinforces our concerns over the decline of democracy in Hungary under Orban’s constant attacks.
“Is the current democratic level acceptable for a full member of the European Union? Are Orban and the current Hungarian leadership respectful of EU’s democratic principles and the rule of law?
“It is an outrage that Fidesz and Orban are still members of the EPP family. I wonder what else should happen in Hungary before someone in the EPP wakes up and finds the courage to finally say something over the worrying situation in Hungary.
“The proposed legislation – if adopted – would make it impossible for the University to continue its operations in Budapest. With this blatant attack on an independent institution of higher education, Orban proves once again that his aim is just to get rid of his political enemies. Every piece of legislation that is targeted and discriminatory must be immediately withdrawn.”
“As the EPP is still silent, the S&D Group calls on the European Commission to monitor this slide from full democracy and finally sanction Orban’s government. Enough is enough.”

István Ujhelyi MEP, Head of the Hungarian delegation in the S&D Group, added:
“What is happening now to the Central European University is more than a mere threat or an act of political vengeance. It is another step towards unbridled authoritarianism akin to that of Erdogan or Putin, where independent institutions are shut down overnight. This is an act of cowardice, a disgraceful action that brings Orban’s illiberal regime to a new, darker chapter. Furthermore it sets a dangerous precedent that might jeopardize the operations of education institutions backed by the Hungarian government abroad.
“Clamping down on universities for political gain is surely not the “pro-European” approach what the EPP-ALDE coalition – counting Orban within its ranks – supposedly champions. The EPP Group’s silence is a painful reminder that the European Parliament’s biggest group is unable to sanction one of its members even if our common European values are at stake. The transformation of a young democracy into illiberal authoritarianism is happening right under our nose here, in Europe. Whoever remains silent, whoever does not stand up for our shared values loses the right to position himself as a guardian of the democratic rights our union is built upon.”