The European Union will eventually consider the Roma minority in Central Europe as a potential labour force, Hungarian Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog said on Thursday.
Talking to MTI after a meeting of his European counterparts in Luxembourg, Balog said that Roma job seekers could fill positions in areas where the EU now uses workers “imported” from third countries.
Balog quoted Ursula von der Leyen, the German labour minister, as saying at the meeting that the EU could contribute to better skills and performance of Roma employees through offering special training courses.
Issues around the Roma minority should not be treated as a case of human rights or a migration problem; the Roma should be seen as potential employees, who could become part of the European labour market once they have received appropriate training, Balog said.
Balog referred to the European Roma strategy, a priority for Hungary’s EU presidency last year, and said that EU members should now put the implementation of their respective national Roma strategies at the top of their agenda. He added that national Roma strategies should be coordinated with other, relevant national policies.
On another subject, Balog said that the EU’s guidelines, designed to ensure closer economic policy cooperation, gave “important directions” to Hungary. Creating many new jobs and improving living standards through boosting the labour market rather than through welfare benefits are priorities for Hungary, he said.
Balog made a special mention of reducing work-related taxes in underdeveloped regions, changing vocational training, and assisting young mothers in finding jobs among the European guidelines.
Concerning the labour ministers’ guidelines for Hungary in particular, Balog said that some of those had already been met. He said that employer contributions had been reduced for companies employing people with disadvantages, and the government was planning further reduction of taxes on employment involving unskilled labour. The government is also taking measures to improve childcare institutions, as well as ones to reduce the unemployment of young people, Balog said.
The minister voiced reservations over EU guidelines concerning Hungary’s taxes, and insisted that the country’s tax reform sought to reduce the burden on employers, however, several measures had been taken to improve the situation of low earners. He insisted that shaping a country’s tax system was a national responsibility. “We do not think that it is up to the European Union to define our tax policy,” he said.
Concerning the European Commission’s guidelines on employment policy, Balog praised the package for putting employment in the focus, and that it suggested a concentrated use of community funds to create more jobs. He added, however, that job demand should also boosted, because measures on the supply side alone cannot result in increased employment.