“The first of the 20 points of the European pillar of social rights that must be put in order is the situation of posted workers and assuring a suitable balance between work and private life, in addition to which the welfare system available in member states must be expanded to include all workers”, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) Liina Carr stressed in Budapest on Thursday.

At a meeting of trade union confederation leaders from the countries of the Visegrád Group (V4), the head of the membership organisation stressed: “In certain EU countries posted workers are not treated equally with the locals, and this problem not only affects workers from Central and Eastern Europe who are employed in Western Europe, but also people who move from one Western Europe country to another to find employment”.

At the meeting, Minister of State for EU Affairs Szabolcs Takács from the Prime Minister’s Office stressed: “Similarly to the other member states of the European Union, the Hungarian Government also agrees with the political targets of the European pillar of social rights, including the increasing of social expenditure and improving the circumstances of posted workers”. “This is proven by the fact that last year in Gothenburg Hungary signed the document on the social pillar”, he noted.

He added, however, that according to the Hungarian Government social policy cannot in itself provide a solution to the problems. “If there is no stable and calculable economic policy, no stable economic growth and no responsible fiscal policy, then the targets set down with relation to the social pillar cannot be realised”, he underlined.

“Hungary’s model, which is built on four pillars: competitiveness, demographics, including family policy, a workfare society and identity, is working, and its elements complement each other”, Mr. Takács said. According to the State Secretary, the success of the model is proven by the fact that the rate of unemployment has fallen to 4 percent and the Government has succeeded in keeping the budget deficit permanently under 3 percent.

“Hungary has been practising a calculable economic policy since 2010, and the soon-to-be-formed new Government plans to continue travelling along this path during the upcoming four years”, he said.

“Progress concerning the targets set down with relation to the social pillar can only be achieved with the involvement of member state governments, while also taking into account the economic and social policies practiced by member states”, Mr. Takács emphasised.

According to the State Secretary, the European Union represents 7 percent of the world’s population and generates 25 percent of global GDP, but also finances 50 percent of the world’s social expenditure. “In the interests of realising the fundamental principles of the pillar, Europe must regain its economic competitiveness and security. It is facing major challenges with regard to the latter”, he pointed out. As an example, Mr. Takács cited migration, explaining that if the counties affected do not succeed in finding a solution to the problem in the near future, then social policy issues will not be the most important tasks facing EU politicians in the upcoming period.

Following the meeting, Chairman of the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions Melinda Mészáros told Hungarian news agency MTI: “With relation to the European pillar of social rights, every member state is awaiting the implementation phase, when it will transpire what concrete measures the EU is expecting with relation to the realisation of individual fundamental principles”.

President of the National Federation of Workers’ Councils Imre Palkovics pointed out that adopting the social pillar poses no further burdens to the Hungarian economy in view of the fact that the pillar’s elements concern long-term targets.

Melinda Mészáros and Imre Palkovics agreed that Hungary occupies an illustrious position with relation to certain elements of the pillar, such as the family support system and motherhood-related benefits. Mr. Palkovics said the results achieved within the fields of wages and employment were also positive.

President of the Hungarian Trade Union Association László Kordás praised the fact that the Government had accepted the document on the European pillar of social rights.

The meeting was organised by the Hungarian Trade Union Association and financed by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation.

(Prime Minister's Office/MTI)