Honourable Speaker, Honourable House, Honourable Members of Parliament,
European Parliament elections have been held in Europe and in Hungary, and in accordance with constitutional traditional I have therefore asked to address today’s sitting. We know the results: in the election yesterday the Hungarian government parties won a record victory in a record turnout. This was the fourth European Parliament election in Hungary since 2004, and as Prime Minister I would like to thank everyone who voted and contributed to the highest turnout yet. Yesterday Hungarians proved that Hungary is a European nation, a European country, and that Europe is also our home. In the election yesterday the Hungarian people clearly declared that they want change in Brussels. They declared that they want to see European leaders who do not want to organise migration, but who want to stop it. They declared that they want leaders of European institutions who respect European nations, and who want to protect Christian culture. They made it clear that they want leaders for whom the people of Europe’s interests come first. I hereby inform you that when negotiating on behalf of Hungary I shall only support such leaders. On Tuesday the prime ministers of the EU will meet in order to begin negotiations on Europe’s prospective leaders.
As I see it, in yesterday’s election the Government of Hungary once more received a strong mandate from the people. As with any election victory, we have been entrusted with a task. The Hungarian people have entrusted us with the task of representing change in Brussels. We have been given a task to work on. The Government of Hungary, and I personally, will do everything we can to effectively represent the will of Hungarian voters in European politics.
Every election – including every election to the European Parliament – has a domestic political dimension. In this election, through their votes the Hungarian people have once more expressed their trust in the government parties and the Government. We received a higher level of support than we did one year ago. Regardless of party affiliation, Hungarian voters ask that their representatives represent the interests of the Hungarian people in Brussels, and not the interests of Brussels in Hungary. I ask all of you to reflect on this.
Yesterday’s election also made it clear that Hungarian voters think that it is worth continuing what we have started. I would like to inform my fellow Members of Parliament that Hungary’s economic indicators have continued to improve in the year that has passed since the last parliamentary election, and the Hungarian economy is performing ever more successfully. In the first quarter of this year Hungarian GDP rose by 5.2 per cent. Therefore economic growth has not slowed down in comparison with last year, which itself was a particularly successful one. The figures for the first quarter of this year show a rate of growth which has not been seen over the last fifteen years. Judging by the figures for the first quarter, the Hungarian economy has grown at a faster rate than any other in the European Union. Although the figures for Ireland and Malta have not yet been released, without these we can still state with certainty that currently our country’s economy is among the three in Europe which are developing most dynamically. The number of people in employment is more than 4.49 million. This means that, between 2010 and 2019, the number of people working for a living has grown by 788,000. Between 2010 and 2019 the employment rate has increased from 54.6 per cent to 70 per cent, and unemployment has fallen by 316,000. I would like to inform you that unemployment now stands at 3.6 per cent, which is the fourth lowest level in the European Union. Meanwhile the proportion of people in work is above the European Union average. In 2010 12 per cent of Hungarians below the age of sixty lived in households where no one was in work or no one had regular work. By 2018 we had succeeded in reducing this figure by more than half. Similarly, wages have also risen: the average net salary is now 73 per cent higher than in 2010, and in Hungary since 2010 the minimum wage has almost doubled, increasing from 73,500 forints per month to 149,000 forints. In a European context this means that since 2010 the increase in Hungary’s minimum wage has been the fourth highest in the European Union. Even more importantly, we have also achieved success in policy aimed at combating poverty. According to a recent report by the European Union – not the Hungarian government, but the European Union – over the past five years 1.8 million people have risen out of severe financial difficulty – or poverty, to put out another way.
We have achieved all this while maintaining a stable Hungarian budget, and we have cut our coat according to our cloth. For the past seven years Hungary has kept to its budget deficit target: the so-called “Maastricht stability criteria”. Government debt is also declining: measured according to EU methodology, by 2018 debt had fallen to below 71 per cent.
One must note, Honourable Speaker and Honourable House, that results in the European Union as a whole are less rosy. Growth in the “old member states” of the European Union is slowing, and the rate of growth in the eurozone is declining. Therefore accelerating Hungarian growth is occurring within a Europe which is slowing down. This means that we must protect Hungary’s economic achievements, and every year we must exceed the European growth rate. I see an annual growth rate of 2 per cent above the European average as being a realistic goal. This is the Government’s goal, and in order to realise this an economic protection action plan is being submitted to the Honourable House in the near future.
In my opinion the results of the European Parliament election in Hungary show that the Hungarian people support the family policy initiative which we have launched. We all agree that for Hungarians children come first, and therefore we have announced the family protection action plan. Over a period of three years we are creating 21,000 new places in crèches, 10,000 of which will be available by the end of this year. We have therefore created the opportunity for mothers to return to work if they wish to do so. On 1 July the second phase of support for young married couples will be launched, within which those couples who commit to having children will be eligible for grants of 10 million forints. We will be providing support of 2.5 million forints for large families to purchase family cars, the home purchase allowance scheme will be expanded to include those buying existing properties, and we are also expanding the mortgage relief scheme for families committing to having children. Finally, the third phase of the family protection action plan will be launched on 1 January 2020. In this phase we will introduce the opportunity for grandparents to receive child support allowance. And we shall also deliver on a long-standing obligation, whereby women who have at least four children will be eligible for lifetime exemption from personal income tax.
So this is the state of affairs in May 2019, one day after the European Parliament election. I ask Parliament and every fellow Member of Parliament to assist in enabling Hungary to achieve the goals it has set itself.
Thank you for your attention.