Daily News | Nov 4, 2018 | 2
Vona: Jobbik demands ‘European wage union’
Budapest, December 18 (MTI) – Hungary’s opposition Jobbik party is launching a European Citizens’ Initiative with a view to levelling the playing field for wages as a fundamental principle of the European Union, Gábor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, told a news conference on Sunday.
Vona insisted that a “European wage union” would be morally just and legally possible while also making economic sense.
In order to start an EU citizens’ initiative process, the signatures of one million people across at least seven member states must be gathered over the period of one year. Vona said Jobbik would focus on forming alliances in support of the initiative in central and eastern Europe.
He argued that Hungarians had hoped for wage rises when joining the bloc. Western Europeans, for their part, had had an economic interest in expanding the EU eastwards, he said, adding that twelve years had passed and these aims remain yet price differences have evened out.
Neither Ferenc Gyurcsány nor Viktor Orbán, as prime minister, did anything to advance this cause in Brussels, Vona said.
He said it was a matter of will as to whether there would be a change in the law.
In today’s Europe there are attempts to build a political union based on “unbelievable economic-social differences”. Instead, an economic-social union should be built while respecting political sovereignty, he said.
Vona said it would not be possible to close the wage gap from one day to the next, but it cannot be ruled out for ever. The issue must be taken up before the next financial cycle starting in 2020, he said.
The Jobbik leader said raising wages to European levels would help to solve serious problems at home. Higher wages equal higher tax receipts and this would feed into sustaining major state subsystems, helping to push up pensions, at the same time, to the same level as those in western Europe.
In response to Vona’s press conference, the ruling Fidesz party issued a statement that Jobbik was “either struggling with difficulties of interpretation or wilfully misleading the Hungarian people”. In contrast, the government is straight with the people and appreciates their work, the statement said, adding that Jobbik had only proved with today’s comments that it would “make any promise in order to gain power”.
Fidesz said real wages had continuously risen since 2010 and the purchasing power of pensions had been maintained. Next year, the minimum wage will be raised by 15 percent while the basic wage of skilled workers will go up by 25 percent. These hikes will be further enhanced in 2018, it added.