Government Spokesperson Zoltán Kovács has announced that the Government of Hungary is determined to keep the Erzsébet meal and grocery voucher scheme, but at the same time it acknowledges and respects the ruling on the system made by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

With reference to the CJEU’s decision on Tuesday, according to which certain aspects of the SZÉP leisure card and the Erzsébet meal voucher schemes are incompatible with EU law, the Government Spokesperson stressed that “while the Government of Hungary acknowledges and respects the decision, its determination to protect the Erzsébet scheme has not changed”.

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Mr. Kovács said that the Cabinet will discuss the issue on Wednesday, and they will establish a system which meets EU requirements, and – more importantly – respects and takes into consideration the interests of Hungary’s citizens.

He emphasised that the programmes announced for 2016 and the rules applicable this year will remain in place, the projects will be implemented, and the funds will remain available.

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Mr. Kovács said that the decision is an unfavourable one for Hungary and its citizens, and stressed that the Erzsébet Programme is successful and well-functioning. He explained that in recent years 48,000 employers and over two million customers have used the scheme, and 58,000 establishments have taken part in it. The programme has funded vacation opportunities in Hungary to over 600,000 socially disadvantaged people, including 300,000 children.

In response to a question on whether French companies excluded from the market by the schemes may file for compensation from the Government of Hungary, Mr. Kovács said that “the whole issue reeks of this”, because the court proceedings were launched on the basis of claims by multinational companies, and this aspect also “pervades the text of the ruling”.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)