The S&D Group today welcomed journalists from the closed Hungarian newspaper, Népszabadság. The paper, which often took a critical stance towards the government, was closed last month following various investigative reports into high-level officials. The group of journalists met with Group president Gianni Pittella and took part in a group discussion on media freedom in the EU.
S&D Group president Gianni Pittella said:
“The current media situation in Hungary is very worrying. Papers that oppose the government are being closed or taken over by Orbán’s cronies. If you do not have a free press then you cannot have a functioning democracy.
“We are delighted to welcome journalists from Népszabadság here today to discuss their current situation and wider questions on press freedom in Hungary. We urge the Hungarian authorities to do all they can to ensure the Népszabadság can reopen and provide its vital impartial coverage to the Hungarian citizens.”
István Ujhelyi MEP, head of the Hungarian delegation to the S&D Group, added:
“Népszabadság played an essential role in Hungary by exposing corruption and holding the government to account. Its closure is part of a worrying trend by Orbán’s government, to silence dissent and prevent critical coverage of the regime. We want to make clear that we will not let them get away with this. We, in the European Parliament, will do all we can to support these journalists and support the freedom of the press that underpins all of our democratic societies.”
After two years of intense work we have successfully reached the first milestone: the European Commission will implement the free InterRail initiative as a pilot project in 2017 with a budget of EUR 50mn from the additional 200mn envelope earmarked for education and youth programmes.
The aim of the project is to provide every young European turning 18 a free one-month InterRail ticket to travel across EU member states. This unique initiative isn’t merely about a free train ride. It targets to open up new horizons for our youth, to deepen integration, to enhance intercultural communication. As the mentor of the project my priority is to empower those young people who could not otherwise have the chance to travel in Europe – thus the programme provides an opportunity for tens of thousands of young Hungarians as well.
Now, when populist forces are questioning the EU’s right to exist, this project can be a valid and successful tool to silence those trying to dismantle our European community. Besides Vincent-Emmanuel Herr and Martin Speer, who had this brilliant idea in the first place, we owe our thanks to all young people in Europe and everyone, who has supported the idea. Moreover, free InterRail could not have happened without Ms Violeta Bulc and Mr Tibor Navracsics European Commissioners who have always supported the idea in the Commission.
Istvan Ujhelyi MEP
Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism
Brussels; 18 November 2016
The proposal of the European Commission suggesting the establishment of a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) can be supported if part of the generated income will be spent on promoting European tourist destinations and European tourism overall. Tourism is now one of the driving forces of our European economies, generating ten percent of EU GDP as the sector grew steadily even during the darkest times of the financial crisis. It generates more than 10 million jobs directly and provides for the livelihood of more than 2 million SMEs.
Such a new measure can deter potential tourists from coming to Europe, therefore, tourism stakeholders rightly expect that part of the generated income will be spent on tourism marketing. Today the Commission tabled a proposal about the establishment of ETIAS in order to strengthen irregular migration and security checks on all those travelling to Europe without a visa. ETIAS permission is not a visa; it is a lighter and more visitor-friendly system allowing tourists from visa-free countries to travel to Europe without a visa still while ordering them to obtain a travel authorisation before entering the Schengen-zone. This grants a five-year permission with multiple travels and costs 5 euro.
MEP, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism responsible for tourism