Viktor Orbán meeting the press before the EU summit in Porto – Photo: PMO

Equality between women and men should be emphasized rather than equality between the sexes, PM says

Orbán at EU summit: Vaccine procurement must be accelerated

The procurement of Covid-19 vaccines must be accelerated while putting ideological considerations aside, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Porto at an EU summit meeting on Friday. Addressing a panel discussion focusing on the topic of labour in the afternoon, Orbán said the most important task for a society in the current pandemic situation was to ensure that vaccines are available for the public. "Without having a vaccine available, no social policy can be maintained," he said. "Each and every vaccine is good, if it is safe and has been put into the arms of the people," Orbán said.

Concerning Hungary’s labour policy, Orbán said that “16 years of government experience has shown that a labour-based society can be built while maintaining a modern, market-based competitive economy”. He noted that Hungary had reduced its unemployment rate from 12 percent to as low as 3 percent over the past ten years.

“If we want to have an effective social policy and a competitive market economy simultaneously, we need to create an appropriate link between taxation and social policies,” Orbán said. He said that Hungary had pursued a “strong social policy” while substantially cutting taxes. For instance, the government introduced a 15 percent flat-rate personal income tax and reduced the corporate tax to 9 percent, the prime minister said.

Orbán said that Hungary spends 5 percent of its gross domestic product on family support because families constitute the basis of the labour force. This way the labour market benefits from family support, too, he said.

The “Hungarian model” properly illustrates that a strong social policy, going together with substantial tax cuts and an appropriate family support policy, can create a work-based society, Orbán said.

EU’s security hinges on vaccination

The security of Europe depends on the vaccination rate of its population, Orbán said in a video recorded in Porto and published on Facebook on Friday.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Orbán said that the community could only be made socially secure “if all citizens have access to vaccination, because without the shots people could get sick, lose their jobs, and become unable to support their families”.

“Hungary has something to say,” he said, adding that life (in Hungary) “has almost fully reopened, with people having access to nearly all services if they are vaccinated and with their freedom regained, while it is not like that in many other European countries”.

Orbán said he would propose that the EU should grant approval to “all proven effective and safe vaccines” and speed up the vaccination drive. “Shots save lives, and Europe’s security depends on the vaccination rate of its people,” he stressed.

In a statement, made on arrival in Porto, Orbán said that Hungary “has a welfare model of its own, aimed at full employment, which the country is very close to”. The country has completed a work-based society, supported by full employment, strong family policies and family support totalling 5 percent of GDP.

“Our system is working well and we are ready to share our experience with others,” the prime minister said.

Answering a question, Orbán said it was “fundamental” that women and men should be treated equally. He added, however, that he, as a Christian man, saw the only problem “with the use of gender as an ideologically motivated term”. “The meaning is vague, somewhere between woman and man,” he said, adding that equality between women and men should be emphasized rather than equality between the sexes.

Justice minister: Hungary sees Europe as ‘families, jobs, innovation’

Hungary sees the European Union as a community based on “families, employment, and innovation”, Justice Minister Judit Varga said in Porto on the sidelines of the EU summit.

Speaking to Hungary’s public media, Varga said that Hungary’s position differed from visions of a “European United States”, and argued that the Hungarian model was based on “experiences of more than ten years, reality, and tangible results”. She said that the Hungarian model proved that if nation states could handle welfare issues themselves, giving “equal focus to family policy, economic policy, competitiveness, and national identity” then “they could achieve real results”. But, she added, given the different cultural and historical traditions in each country, the solution must be found individually.

The EU summit has set the goal for the community to reach 78 percent of employment, Varga said, adding that Hungary’s rate was around 75 percent already, and its goal was to raise it to 85 percent by 2030.

Varga said that the members of the Hungarian delegation had met such “non-classic partners” as university deans, and discussed Hungary’s new higher education model, and gained information on Portugal’s experience.

Varga and Innovation and Technology Minister Laszlo Palkovics also met leaders of the European federation of small and medium-sized businesses on the sidelines of the Porto summit.

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