Bernadett Szél, co-leader of green opposition LMP, discussed the European Union’s pillar of social rights and Hungary’s relationship with the bloc with Philippe Lamberts, leader of the European Parliament’s Greens-EFA group.
The pillar of social rights “is about delivering new and more effective rights for citizens”, the European Commission says. It covers equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions, as well as social protection and inclusion.
LMP fully supports the pillar initiative, Szél told a press conference she held jointly with Lamberts. Szel also insisted that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “deliberately distorts” the idea behind the initiative.
Social matters should be handled at an EU level, Szél said. Decent jobs, fair pay and social protection are European values that all citizens consider important, she added.
“The Europe of capital must be replaced by the Europe of people,” Szél said, “just as Hungary needs a prime minister who puts the interests of the people, rather than capital, first”.
“Viktor Orbán, however, is a man of capital,” she said.
Among the changes Szél said the EU must implement, she mentioned raising the minimum wage to 60 percent of the average wage. The bloc should also combat speculative capital flows, offshore firms and “harmful” tax competition, she said.
The LMP politician also called for the adoption of a labour code at the European level.
Lamberts expressed concerns over what he called Orbán’s “populist tone”. He called Orbán and the EU’s relationship “difficult”, adding that Hungary was “in need of political change”.
He also voiced concerns over what he said was an increasingly close relationship between the Hungarian government and Russian President Vladimir Putin and the government’s favouring of nuclear energy.
“Nuclear energy has no future,” Lamberts insisted.
On the topic of the ongoing China-CEE summit in Budapest, the group leader said Europe must take into consideration that the CEE region needs more investors.
Ruling Fidesz said Szél had held talks “with affiliates of [US financier George] Soros … as if they were coming off an assembly line”. The party said in a statement that “as a reliable ally of George Soros”, Lamberts had “attacked Hungary at every turn”.