After the passage of the Stop Soros legislative package, the organisation of illegal immigration will be a criminal law scenario in the Penal code, Gergely Gulyás, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday in Budapest, at the first press conference Governmentinfo held after the formation of the new cabinet.

He highlighted that at its first meeting the government discussed the Stop Soros legislative package and the proposed constitutional amendment to be adopted in conjunction with the package. These – an amended new proposal in the case of the Stop Soros package – will be presented to Parliament next week, and the relevant parliamentary debate may begin the week after. This is what they received a mandate for, he indicated, pointing out that they would like to protect Hungary from immigration and its organisers.

Regarding the Stop Soros legislative package to be submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, he said that, as part of the proposal of the Ministry of Interior, the law on the police, the Penal Code, the law on asylum, the law on the state borders and the law on offences will be amended. They will lay down in the new legislation that the organisation of illegal immigration is an illegal act, and a relevant criminal scenario will be accordingly incorporated into the Penal Code.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/

In answer to a question concerning the opinion of the Venice Commission, he indicated that the delegation of the commission is currently in Budapest, and Balázs Orbán, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office will meet with them.

In the context of the formerly planned duty payment obligation relating to organisations supporting illegal immigration, the Minister said that as the bill has been tightened and the organisation and funding of illegal immigration will be punishable acts under the Penal Code, there is no further need for any duty payment.

Concerning the proposed constitutional amendment, Mr Gulyás said that they will make it absolutely clear in the proposal of the Justice Ministry that Hungary is only prepared to grant asylum as first safe country, meaning that the threat of persecution will have to be direct. He observed that on this issue they have a dispute with the EU which looks upon asylum as a kind of universal right.

In answer to a question, he argued that everyone will have the possibility to prove that in the countries which they travelled through they submitted applications for asylum, but their applications were rejected in unfair procedures or that also in those countries they were exposed to the threat of persecution. Regarding Serbia, the government takes the view that not only the Member States of the EU, but the candidate countries, too, qualify as safe countries, he said.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/

The constitutional amendment will additionally provide for the establishment of an independent administrative justice system. According to plans, with the coming into being of a supreme administrative court, another supreme forum for appeal will come into being that will occupy the same hierarchical position as the Curia, the Minister informed the press, stressing that this will not affect the organisational system of courts. This measure seeks to provide an independent supreme court for public administration, he explained, adding that – in the government’s view – both the relevant European practice and the history of the administration of justice in Hungary warrant this arrangement.

“We keep our distance, but we do keep an eye on what is happening in the National Judicial Council which is still fully operational”, he said in answer to a question concerning the future of the organisational system of the judiciary, confirming at the same time that the government did not discuss this issue at all and at this point in time there is no pending proposal on the matter on its agenda.

The protection of people’s homes will also form part of the Fundamental Law as – based on the proposal – they will lay down in the constitution that everyone is entitled to the protection of their private homes, he added. They will initiate a consultation with the opposition parties on the motion regarding the constitutional amendment.

One of the questions concerned the planned modern villages programme, regarding which Mr Gulyás said that Alpár Gyopáros, Fidesz Member of Parliament, will be responsible for this issue as government commissioner at the Prime Minister’s Office, and he was asked to start consultations with the mayors concerned within the shortest possible time. The government may adopt a concise concept regarding the programme, which will also include small towns, in the autumn. The purpose of the programme is to make village life an attractive option, he said.

Regarding the development of the defence forces, the Minister said that every year the budget of the defence forces will increase by 0.1 per cent and by 2026 Hungary may reach 2 per cent to GDP, the level that is expected by NATO. Next year the defence budget will be HUF 80 billion higher which will provide an opportunity for major defence developments, he added.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/

In answer to a question on the CEU, he highlighted that the government and the institution are required to reach an agreement by 31 December, and Parliament will also be required to ratify the agreement.

Regarding comments made by politicians with respect to court judgements, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said politicians cannot not speak out on judgements concerning which society has high expectations. Judges, too, often respond to proposals concerning the courts, he observed.

He also said that the government will move out of the Parliament Building within a year.

In answer to the question as to whether the government is planning to sell Budapest Bank, Mr Gulyás said that the government did not deal with this issue at its meeting, and he is therefore unable to provide any meaningful information on the matter.

In the case of the amendment of the church legislation, he indicated that he would wholeheartedly vote for the bill which was rejected a few years ago in the absence of support from the opposition.

Regarding news reports that the human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) will start a campaign to induce the European People’s Party to exclude Fidesz, he said that HRW is largely funded by George Soros, and he is therefore not surprised that the organisation does not like the government’s immigration policy. He highlighted at the same time that Fidesz is the most successful member party of the European People’s Party.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/

2019 budget to be presented to Parliament on 13 June

According to plans, the government will submit to Parliament the 2019 budget on 13 June, and Parliament may adopt it in the second half of July, the Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The Minister said in the context of next year’s budget that tax reductions will continue, the social contribution tax will decrease by two per cent in accordance with an earlier agreement and the rate of the family tax benefit available to families with two children will also increase. He added that the goal of next year’s budget is to keep the deficit below two per cent and to increase growth to above four per cent.

The Minister said another goal is to reach full employment and “to reach zero per cent on the operating side of the budget”, meaning that with the removal of development funds from the budget there would be no deficit.

Listing the latest economic figures, Mr Gulyás said in evaluation that the economic policy which Hungary has pursued since 2010 has been successful. According to his information, by 2018 the number of active-age workers had increased by 67,000 to 4.4 million, and the primary labour market has been responsible for this increase in its entirety. He added the reason why the number of public works scheme participants decreased by 42,000 in January to March 2018 compared with the corresponding period of 2017 is that many of them have found jobs on the market.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/

Mr Gulyás said between January and March 2018 the number of unemployed in the age group between 15 and 64 decreased by 29,000 – by 14 per cent – and as a result their number decreased to 178,000. The rate of unemployment has fallen to 3.9 per cent, he said. He observed that this is one of the lowest figures ever recorded.

The Minister also told the press that the percentage of those unemployed for minimum one year has decreased from 45.1 per cent to 39.8 per cent, and the average job-seeking time has fallen from 17.5 months to 16.4 months. He highlighted that the GDP had increased by 4.4 per cent last year, and a substantial increase in market-based services contributed to this rise. With this economic growth rate, Hungary came third in the EU, he said.

Regarding average earnings, he said that in March 2018 the pre-tax average earnings of full-time workers amounted to HUF 331,500. This represents an 11.3 per cent increase in one year, he explained. He added that with family tax benefits included, the net average earning amounted to HUF 229,000.

Pre-tax and after-tax average earnings, not including public works employees, increased by 11.4 per cent compared with the corresponding period of last year, and against a 2 per cent increase in consumer prices, real wages increased by 10.2 per cent, he said. He also mentioned that before the submission to Parliament of the 2019 budget the Fiscal Council will have ten days to state its opinion on the bill.

In answer to the question as to whether they will take into consideration the European Commission’s recommendations which they issued to Hungary because Hungary is in violation of the medium-term fiscal deficit target, the Minister said that if after 2010 they had taken into consideration the Commission’s recommendations, the country would not be where it is today. We thank them for their recommendations, we ourselves have made the same observations, he said in connection with the rise in the deficit by a few percentage points. He added that they do read studies and are grateful for good advice.

DownloadPhoto: Károly Árvai/

Small businesses would only be issued with warnings due to violation of GDPR

Mr Gulyás informed the press that, according to the government’s plans, the authority would only be able to issue warnings to small and medium-sized enterprises if they violated the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will take effect shortly.

Mr Gulyás said regarding the EU’s general data protection regulation that the government will make every effort to ensure that the regulation will not hinder the operation of the sector of small and medium-sized enterprises and will not result in significant extra expenditures for them.

He indicated that they wish to adopt the Austrian model upon the transposition of the regulation into Hungarian law, meaning that in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information can only issue warnings, and has no authority to impose any other sanction. The politician said he agrees with the goal of the regulation, and he believes it is wise to introduce more stringent data management rules for large data managers such as Facebook.

In answer to a question, he said that they will define in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce what they actually mean by small and medium-sized enterprises. Mr Gulyás asked Attila Péterfalvi, head of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, to provide as comprehensive information for these businesses as possible.

Mr Gulyás highlighted in answer to questions that by keeping the genre of the press conference, they seek to appreciate the fact that it is difficult to create genres in politics and former Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office János Lázár did just that with the press conference Governmentinfo. “In this genre his spirit, too, will live on with us at the Prime Minister’s Office”, he said.

There was also a question concerning a conference held in Budapest on Wednesday where Steve Bannon, US President Donald Trump’s former advisor made a speech as well. Mr Gulyás drew attention to the fact that he and the advisor are not working in the same field of politics and therefore he does not believe that their paths will cross again in the future. He continued by saying that it is too early to evaluate Mr Trump’s presidency, but no one can take away from him the major achievement that thanks to him Hillary Clinton did not become President of the United States. If this is all he did, that in itself is quite an achievement, he said, pointing out Steve Bannon’s role in this.

In response to suggestions that, according to Jobbik’s leadership, the goal of Fidesz is to divide Jobbik, Mr Gulyás said that “we have not been in contact with Lajos Simicska for some time”.