Budapest, February 23 (MTI) – The European Court of Justice has found that some components of Hungary’s SZÉP and Erzsébet voucher schemes aimed at providing employee benefits are incompatible with EU law.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the court said that Hungary has violated European rules of the freedom of services and of settlement. The ruling referred to Hungarian stipulations under which foreign companies in Hungary are not allowed to issue SZÉP cards, as well as to rules that restrict the legal form of ventures eligible to participate in the SZÉP scheme. The Hungarian system, the court pointed out, further discriminates against certain service providers through stipulating that participants must have branches in all medium-size or larger cities in the country. Companies based in other European countries are thus deprived of the opportunity to provide cross-border services, the ruling said.
The suit was initiated by the European Commission, which seeks an infringement procedure against Hungary over the contested benefit system.
The Hungarian government is committed to maintaining its Erzsébet scheme, but it will respect the European Court decision, the government spokesman told a press conference after the ruling was published. Zoltán Kovács added that the government would make changes to meet European requirements but will continue to “promote the interests of Hungarian people”.
Kovács also insisted that the current rules will apply without any changes this year.
Photo: afitness.hu, MTI