The Hungarian government and the European Commission disagree on planned changes to social rights in the European Union, Economy Minister Mihály Varga said on Thursday after talks with Marianne Thyssen, the EU commissioner for employment and social affairs, in Budapest. “Hungary believes the formulation, organisation, implementation and financing of policies should remain a national competence”, Varga told a press conference he held jointly with Thyssen.
The minister said Hungary and most other countries in the region “had to take big steps that improve competitiveness” in order to be able to “adopt social systems similar to the ones applied in western Europe”. Varga said a government resolution on transforming the fostered work programme would be published in days. The government wants to reduce the number of fostered workers in future, but will still stick to its policy of work instead of welfare when it comes to Hungarians who don’t have a chance of joining the primary labour market, he added.
Thyssen said the EC would unveil its reference framework for the formulation of the pillar of social rights on April 28. This is not a legislative move, she said, adding that the commission had no intention of taking away national competences from member states. The EC respects the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and considers it important that the social framework should not harm competitiveness, she insisted. Regarding employment, Thyssen conceded that the EC had earlier been critical of Hungary’s fostered workers programme, but now acknowledged the authorities’ efforts to redirect participants to the primary labour market.