Ujhelyi: Hungary Must Also Be Member of European Health Union!

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ujhelyi_istvan_sm (1)It is of paramount interest not only for the entire European Community, but also for Hungary that the concept of the European Health Union be realized, said Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi at his online press conference on Thursday.
MSZP’s politician was one of the developers of the concept and of the responsible persons for it in the S&D Group of the EP. In the past year, together with the Hungarian Medical Chamber and other Hungarian professional organizations, as well as European health interest groups, he has shaped the content of the package of proposals intended to set quality standards for healthcare.
“When I first came up with the concept of the European Health Union and the minimum-standards, professional organizations and policy makers alike had their doubts about its feasibility, but the hard work of recent months has paid off: first, the S&D Group in the European Parliament adopted the program, then the concept was included in the adopted health strategy adopted by a majority of the European Parliament, and now, as a historic breakthrough, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has made this program an important part of the next work plan”, said István Ujhelyi.
The socialist politician emphasized that the implementation of the European Health Union means shorter waiting lists, fewer hospital infections and resulting illnesses and death, but it can also bring higher wages in healthcare systems. István Ujhelyi emphasized that, contrary to government propaganda, Fidesz spends less on healthcare than the EU average, and it is no coincidence that Hungary lags behind in terms of quality care.
“While a Czech doctor earns twice as much, a Belgian doctor earns nine times more than his Hungarian colleagues. Today, someone in Hungary is three times more likely to get a serious nosocomial infection than in Germany. These differences are untenable, and the concept of the health union will help to eliminate them,” added the European politician of MSZP.
István Ujhelyi emphasized that after the European Parliament, the European Commission has now made a commitment to the program he initiated. He said now it was the turn of the European Council of Heads of State and Government to support the implementation.
“The joint work has begun, and I also expect my fellow opposition and pro-government MEPs to stand behind the program and help it to be implemented as widely as possible. Without strong health care, there is no strong Europe, without a strong healthcare system, there is no happy Hungary,” the MSZP MEP said at his online press conference.

Brussels – 17/09/2020

Ujhelyi: Von Der Leyen’s stand for Health Union is a historic breakthrough!

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Ursula-von-der-Leyen-1200x800I consider it a significant breakthrough that in her annual State of the Union Address President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also stood firmly behind the concept of the European Health Union which I advocated. This clearly marks the path and the opportunity for the widest possible implementation. I also consider it an important breakthrough that the number one person of the Commission has also raised the issue of rethinking the health competences of the Member States, as this is essential in order to eliminate the serious discrepancies that exist between health systems.
I had an important commitment at the beginning of my second term as MEP to put on the table of European decision-makers a comprehensive concept that ensures minimum standards of quality healthcare in all European Member States and guarantees patient safety. Not only domestic but also international professional organizations took an active part in this work, and the Social Democratic Group in the EP also took on to promote my initiative as their own.
It was an important milestone a few weeks ago, when this finally became one of the cornerstones of the health strategy adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament. Today’s clear statement by the President of the European Commission is another significant step forward. Parliament and the Commission are therefore ready to set up the European Health Union, therefore we expect the European Council, including the Heads of Government of the Member States, to take part in the joint implementation.
Without strong healthcare, there is no strong nation. Without strong care systems, there is no strong Europe.

István Ujhelyi
MEP (MSZP)
Brussels, 16/09/2020

No shame in being a party propagandist, just awkward to deny It!

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jegyzetcover844Undoubtedly, one of Orbán and his gang’s most cunning moves was to cannibalise the Hungarian news agency MTI as soon as possible and then make the news they now controlled and influenced free of charge. This way, they subjugated the public and mushroom-propagated the fake and semi-fake institutes, which echoed their views before the public on all platforms. We have all seen the “experts” and “analysts” in uniform suits who robotically repeat centrally issued templates in the government press. Make no mistake; each and every one of them is a paid party propagandist. As a matter of fact, there is no shame in this: being a party propagandist is a perfectly legitimate job (funding it from public money raises questions though), it’s just infinitely pathetic when they try to deny this.

I confess that I do not even understand those media outlets that do not consider themselves  government servants, yet regularly and without criticism interview, for example Dániel Deák in their news programs and analytical materials. Deák tries to present himself as a serious analyst of a government affiliated institute stuffed with money, but his trembling efforts to hammer exclusively Fidesz’ narrative into people’s heads makes him infinitely ridiculous. The situation is similar with the propaganda institute also cunningly called the Centre for Fundamental Rights. It is a joke in itself that they have only failed to stand up for the fundamental human rights the government has trampled upon in the past period, although they do not hide their position: their declared goal is to be a ‘counterpoint’ to human rights fundamentalism and political correctness that overflows many walks of life these days. I would like to point out once again that being a party propagandist is no shame, trying to sell yourself as a independent and objective expert while being one is, however, rather pathetic. This is also true for this case. The Centre for Fundamental Rights has made itself noticed as of late by organising a highly Fidesz “private event” (i.e. a garden party in a castle) that put half of the government into quarantine; we, of course, wish all coronavirus carriers a speedy recovery. But it is not only because of this that the “independent institute,” which operates from massive public funds, is a perfect example: they have also received millions from the Fidesz party foundation and one of the Hungarian National Bank’s foundations.

The head of the company bathed in public funds is Miklós Szánthó, a former member of the Christian Democratic KDNP’s youth organization, but according to press reports, he has also represented Fidelitas in the youth section of the European People’s Party. At the moment, by the way, he is, not incidentally, the leader of the Fidesz media golem, put together by state aid and controlling hundreds of newspapers and other media. The strategic director of the centre is István Kovács, who was on the Fidesz EP list last year but slipped off the mandate in the last minute, but there is also research director Péter Törcsi, who is reportedly a very lucky company founder: in 2018, as soon he started his own consulting business, he already received orders in the value of millions of forints from the Prime inister’s Office and the Fidesz parliamentary group. But the leadership of the centre also includes deputy director Miklós Panyi, who bashfully only writes about himself on the website that he was the “Hungarian press adviser of the People’s Party of the European Parliament”, which translates to the fact that he worked as a press secretary for Fidesz MEPs. Several of the company’s leading analysts have recently worked at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office dealing with government propaganda, and analyst Eszter Párkányi, who is a regular face in the government media, recently held press conferences as a spokesperson for Fidelitas. And before the pro-government comment commando, trained by István Kovács’s Megaphone project, jumps at me with a sharpened keyboard: there is nothing wrong with all this. Educated, well –travelled people work at this government affiliated institute. More precisely, at this institute as well.

The trouble is that these propaganda companies (or, as the government press would put it “pseudo-
civilians”) are stuffed with taxpayers’ money, and the analyses, statements, and declarations they convey are taken seriously by some instead of treating them like the repackaged positions of the Fidesz government, which they are. Orbán has built a well-functioning, professional tell-it-like it-is network to influence the public. If we actually see this, we know it and we take the words of their
actors with the deserved seriousness, they can bend reality in any way, it will always make way for
itself.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
August 30, 2020

Hungarians want the Euro!

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jegyzetcover5Remember what Viktor Orbán said as an opposition leader some years ago? “A weaker forint means a weaker state, and only weak people can possibly want a weak forint.” Moreover, he also stated that the deliberate devaluation of the forint exchange rate is a simple theft, because with it “they steal money out of people’s pockets” by devaluing their salaries.
Well, when Fidesz took power in 2010, the euro exchange rate was just over 280 forints. Today – when we are said to be the engine of all development and growth – the exchange rate is at historic peaks; you have to pay around 350 for a single euro. Due to the deliberate weakening of the forint, inflation is also huge; all our imports have become more expensive, so everyone has to pay more at the cashiers. Recalling Orbán’s sentences at the time: the current power steals from us all when it takes a significant amount out of our pockets by devaluing the forint.
Fidesz tends to refer to two things regularly and willingly: the situation and practice of the countries of the Central and Eastern European region, and the opinion of the Hungarian people – that they have asked for, one way or another. Well, if we look at our region, we are starting to lag far behind our leading role: after the Slovaks and Slovenes, now Bulgaria and Croatia have also announced that they will join ERM II, considered the gateway to the euro, and introduce the single currency in 2023.
And as far as people’s opinions are concerned, which Orbán and his gang claim to follow as a kind of compass, also defines a clear path. At the request of the left-wing daily Népszava, Publicus Institute was the east to conduct a representative survey in the matter, according to which more than 51 per cent of the population wants a Hungarian euro and only 37 per cent reject it, the rest are uncertain or have no opinion on the matter. Unsurprisingly, the rejectors are mainly pro-government voters who support Fidesz’s anti-European and anti-EU policies blindly, without question.

Joining the euro is one of the commitments made in the EU treaties, and it is our duty to fulfil it. It may be up for debate whether the Hungarian economy is ready for the first steps (for example, forint inflation is still far from expected) and when it is best to join, but the intention must be clear. Or it should be. Yet the Hungarian government does not even request observer status at the negotiating table of the eurozone countries, although this does not oblige them to do anything, it is just an important source of information and opportunities. It is infinitely sad that the Hungarian government also treats the issue of the common currency arrogantly, condescendingly and merely in light of the personal profitmaking  needs of the ruling party’s circles.
Fidesz experts should undertake a substantive debate on this and make it clear to the Hungarian people what the state power thinks about this and why. And the government is at least expected to set a timetable as soon as possible, setting at least a target date for the introduction of the euro. In the absence of this, they only prove that our economy is not on such stable foundations as the domestic propaganda claims, and that they constantly gamble with the forint at the expense of the Hungarian people.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
9 August, 2020

Ujhelyi: What were Lukashenko and Orbán really discussing?

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deal“Enough of this Russian roulette, we want to know what Fidesz’s shady game with the Belarusian regime is about,” said István Ujhelyi at his online press conference on Sunday.
The MSZP MEP called on the government to reveal the contents of the minutes and memos of the June talks between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President Alexander Lukashenko.
He added that if these documents could not be shared with the general public due to their content concerning national security, they should report the details to the National Security Committee of Parliament. Ujhelyi claimed, if Fidesz has nothing to hide regarding the matter, they should clarify exactly what the Hungarian and Belarusian leaders were discussing.
A European politician of MSZP recalled that more than 7,000 people, including seventy journalists, had been detained in recent days in connection with the protests following the falsified elections.  Ujhelyi pointed out that the institutions of the European Union clearly and unequivocally condemn state fraud and terror in Belarus, but according to information, among Member States only the Hungarian government is still reluctant to do so.
“Obviously Moscow dictates, but we should make it clear where we stand, whose interests we are serving,” said Ujhelyi at the press conference. According to the Socialist MEP, it is still unclear what deals had been made at the Orbán-Lukashenko meeting in June, as the specific agreements announced following the talks were effectively weightless.
“Obviously, during his visit in June, Orbán did not meet with opposition leaders, as there is only shamocracy in Belarus; but perhaps this is exactly what the Hungarian head of government went to examine more closely, ”said the European politician of MSZP, adding that the shady game of the Orbán government with the Belarusian regime brought shame on Hungary again, so it is a minimum expectation to see clearly in the matter.

Budapest – 16/08/2020

Ujhelyi: Orban tricked in Brussels; Rule of Law mechanism remains EU Budget condition!

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22211The Hungarian prime minister recently boasted like a proud little rooster before the pro-government public, claiming he had managed to fight for the exclusion of the rule of law mechanism from the elements of the EU budget agreement.
However, Viktor Orbán was tricked in Brussels, and it has now become clear and final that there will be rule of law control over EU money, and that it will be even stricter than Fidesz had previously hoped. The interests of Hungary and the European Union now collide against the power machine of Orbán.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen also made it clear in the plenary debate that the protection of EU funds and respect for the rule of law go hand in hand, and that this mechanism can be enforced by agreement between the Prime Ministers. The President of the European Commission has confirmed that they will again consult the 2018 rule of law proposal, which could put the Hungarian Prime Minister, who relies on his illiberal allies, in a difficult position. According to the proposal, possible sanctions can only be voted down by a qualified majority in the body comprised of the Heads of State and Government.

It is also extremely spectacular how a large majority of the European Parliament, in contrast to the conduct of Fidesz, adopted a joint resolution expressing a critical opinion on the budgetary agreement of the Heads of State and Government. The EP has shown a clear and decisive path towards the necessary increase in resources for future-oriented goals (e.g. healthcare, climate protection) and the strengthening of the rule of law criteria. Viktor Orbán trying to present himself as the hero of his folk tales is all in vain; he is now more like the losing black knight of the film The Holy Grail.

Brussels – 23/07/2020

Ujhelyi asks Ministers of Member States to save cultural sector

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lettersSocialist MEP István Ujhelyi sent a joint letter to the Ministers and State Secretaries of Culture in all EU Member States. The letter was also signed by Urs Pilz, President of Fédération Mondiale du Cirque and the European Circus Association with the executive and managing directors of the organizations. The signatories call on policy makers to pay special attention to helping the cultural sector, which, alongside tourism, has suffered the heaviest losses as a result of the restrictions that had to be introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They also draws attention to the fact that, thanks to EU measures, considerable resources are now at the disposal of the governments of the Member States for recovery. The letter pointed out that part of the rescue package (“NextGenerationEU”) originally proposed by the European Commission and currently discussed by the EU Heads of Government was a multi-hundred billion euro budget framework (“Recovery and Resilience Facility”), part of which Member States will be able to use as non-refundable funds and the other part as a soft loan. In the joint letter, the Hungarian MEP and the leaders of European circus world, among other things, calls on the governments of the Member States to accept the proposal of the EU Commissioner for Culture Mariya Gabriel and spend at least 2 percent of this framework specifically on rescuing and helping those affected by the crisis in the cultural sector.
“Even two percent of this soon-to-be-finalized budget amounts to billions of euros, which could already provide meaningful help and relief to the European players in the entertainment industry, such as musicians, actors, dancers, event organizers, technical background staff and, of course, circus artists and performers, who are often left off this list. Should the recovery package be adopted with no head of state or government vetoing it as blackmail, this money will soon be available to decision-makers in the Member States. From then on, it is their responsibility and duty to distribute this EU public money in a targeted way, to the sectoral players genuinely in need of these funds. I trust that this is how it will happen everywhere” said MEP Ujhelyi.

Brussels – 20/07/2020

Ujhelyi to tour Hungary to promote European Health Union

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egészségügyiminimumAfter the European Parliament has adopted by a large majority the resolution on the public health strategy and the concept of the European Health Union advocated by MSZP, the party’s MEP will tour the country to personally seek the views of the municipalities, professional and non-governmental organizations concerned. This is what one of the creators of the healthcare concept, MEP István Ujhelyi announced at his online press conference on Saturday.
As is well known, on Friday, the European Parliament adopted a document containing, among other things, proposals made by the MSZP politician, such as the definition of minimum standards for quality healthcare and the conduct of related stress tests in the Member States.
At the briefing, István Ujhelyi reminded that not only the Hungarian Medical Chamber, but also several other Hungarian and European professional NGOs helped to develop the basic concept. The MSZP representative emphasized that the aim of the proposal was not to relieve the government of its powers in the field of health, but to ensure that through stronger European coordination, an increased budget and specific quality requirements the same level of services be available in all EU Member States.
According to Ujhelyi, there are unsustainable imbalances and inequalities in the quality of healthcare systems, and these must be reduced by introducing quality standards. “It is untenable that while in Germany there are twelve nurses for a thousand people, in Hungary, only six. In Germany, there is three times less chance of someone getting a fatal hospital infection than in our country. It is untenable that more than twenty-five thousand nurses are missing from Hungarian healthcare and over seven thousand doctors have left Hungarian institutions.
Just as it is untenable that, according to an expert report, there has recently been a year in which the lives of at least thirty-two thousand people could have been saved with a better and timelier care system and more effective public healthcare interventions. This is the population of a smaller town,” Ujhelyi said. The European politician of MSZP also emphasized that Hungary currently spends half of the EU average on healthcare. This clearly shows the attitude of the government, which has sole responsibility for the sector.
At the press conference, István Ujhelyi asked the government to support the implementation of the European Health Union and, for example, to be among the first to perform the stress test that shows the weak points of the Hungarian care system.
MSZP’s European politician also called on the government not to resort to “blackmail” regarding EU Recovery Funding, as it also jeopardizes the achievement of the nearly € 10 billion budget that Member States will be able to spend on healthcare development.

Budapest – 11/07/2020

Ujhelyi: European Health Union could be realised through five-party cooperation

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EU_HealthcareA five-party cooperation has lined up behind the concept of the “European Health Union.” The EU public health strategy, which also provides quality care for Hungarian people, is expected to be adopted by a large majority at the European Parliament’s plenary session, said one of the developers of the concept Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi at his online press conference on Wednesday.
The MSZP politician pointed out that the related document is being jointly submitted by the S&D Group, the European People’s Party, and the Liberal ReNew Group, but the Greens and the far-left GUE Group have also joined the resolution. The debate on the document will take place on Wednesday at the Brussels institution and the final vote will take place on Friday.
“One of my most important commitments as a re-elected MEP for this parliamentary term was to lay a proposal for a set of criteria for improving the quality of healthcare on the table of European decision-makers, thus supporting Hungarian people’s access to healthcare and improving the quality of Hungarian healthcare in general. The coronavirus epidemic has accelerated events and, with the support of the S&D Group, we can already lay the foundations for this program,” said Ujhelyi, stressing that it is unacceptable that there are significant differences in the quality of healthcare systems in EU Member States, and it is also untenable that patients receive a different level of service in Hungary, depending on where they apply for care.
According to the Socialist politician, the joint resolution calls on the European institutions and the Member States to learn from the lessons of the virus and develop a much stronger cooperation in the area of health and “create a European Health Union.” The latter concept is also the name of the reform package previously adopted by the S&D Group, which includes the creation of a framework of minimum quality requirements that guarantees quality care, patient safety and decent working conditions for healthcare workers, while preserving Member States’ competences.
Regarding the resolution, Ujhelyi also emphasized that the document recorded the fact of serious imbalances between Member States’ care systems and the risk of inequalities in Member States due to the emigration of health professionals as a historic breakthrough. The European politician of MSZP added that it was an important achievement that EUR 9.4 billion had been allocated in the European reconstruction package to finance health programs, which is multiple times the amount spent in this area in previous budgets.
“The resolution also states that the level of resources allocated to health in the next seven-year EU budget cannot be limited, as long-term investments and commitments are needed: targeted EU funding, for example on strengthening hospital infrastructure and health services, and all this based on clear criteria,” said István Ujhelyi, concluding that he was confident that the healthcare resolution he initiated would receive a large majority and that there would be no Hungarian MEP to vote against the document.

Brussels – 08/07/2020

Fidesz Gives up on Strengthening National Self-esteem

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jegyzetcoverViktor Orbán and his government are deliberately weakening the forint and profiting from it at the expense of Hungarian people, while keeping Hungary away from joining the eurozone against Hungarian interests and contrary to their own former creed. This is more than a crime. The introduction of the euro is not a matter of choice, but our commitment, which we undertook by signing the accession treaty. Fidesz has been babbling about the common currency for years and always relates to the introduction of the euro according to the temporary financial interests of its most favoured oligarchs. In its 2009 but still valid European Parliament program, Fidesz blamed previous governments precisely because they did not consider the introduction of the euro a priority.
In the current financial and economic crisis, the euro has passed the test and proved to be a stable currency (…) If the current crisis had hit Hungary within the eurozone, there would have been no forint crisis in the first place. Secondly, loans taken by households in foreign currency would not have become more expensive (…) Every effort must be made, therefore, to make Hungary a member of the euro area as soon as possible (…), the Maastricht convergence criteria for the introduction of the euro must not be disputed, but met” – goes the wording of the program. Moreover, according to the document, Fidesz believes that “the introduction of the euro will also be an important feat of arms for national self-esteem.”
If they did not lie then, then the current government policy simply cannot be interpreted in any other way than Viktor Orbán and Fidesz having renounced the strengthening of national self-esteem for simple, primitive profiteering.
A few years ago, the then secretary of state and current finance minister, Mihály Varga said that joining the euro zone would not be worthwhile for Hungary for the time being, “however, if other countries from our region enter the zone, Hungary cannot be left out, either.” So it would seem the minister either does not read the news or has already forgotten his previous commitment, as after the Slovaks and Slovenes, Bulgaria and Croatia have now announced that this year they will join ERM2, which is considered the gateway to the euro and adopt the single currency in 2023.
By not even setting a target date for the introduction of the euro, even though according to the latest surveys more than 65 percent of Hungarian society would support it, the government clearly and unequivocally goes against Hungarian interests. This way Hungary is left out of the inner circle of the core countries and is excluded from certain decisions, and does not benefit from their advantages and protective network.
Back in 2004, as an opposition leader, Viktor Orbán said: “a weaker forint means a weaker state, and only weak people can wish for a weak forint.” He also added that the weakening of the forint by the government is in fact a simple theft, because it is “stealing money out of people’s pockets” when  their salaries are devalued. When Fidesz took power in 2010, the exchange rate of the euro was just over 280 forints, and now (when it is said the golden age is here thanks to the government), the exchange rate is already at 356 forints for a single euro, reaching an historic peak. So much for the national self-esteem mentioned by Fidesz and the weak state of Viktor Orbán.
After the Hungarian PM’s landmark speech in Tusványos in 2014, in which he proclaimed his desire to turn Hungary into an illiberal state, I pledged to draw the public’s attention to the transgressions of this regime in an open letter every week. This is the 253rd  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.

dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
5 July, 2020