Honourable Speaker, Honourable House, Honourable Fellow Members of Parliament,
Parliament was last in session one hundred days ago, and in keeping with our constitutional conventions I shall report to the Honourable House on what the Government has done since the last time we met.
During these one hundred days there have been local government elections, further elements of the Family Protection Action Plan have been launched, we have launched the Hungarian Villages Programme, we have seen important developments in the economies of Hungary and Europe, and we have also decided on important questions in the European Council.
With regard to the local government elections, we successfully and effectively administered them in every settlement. I thank the almost twenty thousand people who took part in the administration of the elections as vote counters, IT specialists, lawyers, public officials or in any other capacity. We can confirm that in the organisation and administration of the elections the Government performed its duties to the widespread satisfaction of all concerned. From this place I thank those voters, regardless of party affiliation, who voted in the elections, and thus contributed to the functioning of Hungarian democracy. The voter turnout figures show that Hungarians continue to be committed to democracy and believe in the future of Hungary. From this place I congratulate every elected mayor and local government representative. I wish you much strength and good health in the execution of your duties. The Government’s standpoint and practice to date are well known: we cooperate with every mayor and local council that is also willing to cooperate. Regardless of party affiliation, support for the Government or the opposition, we must all work for Hungary and the Hungarian people, because it continues to be true that our motherland cannot be the opposition.
For the Government, Honourable House, it is a special token of recognition that, as a whole, across the country the governing parties received more than 50 per cent of votes cast. Beyond important geographical and local disparities, this means that the Government can continue its work – and in fact on key issues it has received endorsement. We will therefore continue the policies of a work-based economy, a family-friendly Hungary, increasing wages, dignity for citizens in their later years, home creation and the unification of the nation. Hungarian democracy is strong, functioning and able to serve the people’s interests effectively.
I can inform the Honourable House that the Family Protection Action Plan has been gaining momentum, with more than 65,000 people taking advantage of it so far: 40,000 people have applied for childbirth incentive support; 16,000 people have applied for car purchase grants for large families; and 9,000 people have applied for mortgage debt relief available to families with three or more children. A total of 114,000 families have benefited from family home creation support; and 1,500 applications have been received in response to the Village Housing Programme, which was launched in July. In total all this amounts to 650 billion forints of support already received by Hungarian families. The question is whether the Hungarian economy can bear all this.
I can tell the Honourable House that the signs indicate that it can. We can already see the economic performance for the first six months of this year: the Hungarian economy grew by 5.2 per cent. Compared with 2010, the performance of the Hungarian economy has increased by 30 per cent. Within this, industrial production has increased by more than 40 per cent, while we have switched to a work-based economic system, and unemployment has fallen from 12 per cent in 2010 to its current level of 3.4 per cent. The number of jobs has increased by 808,000, and in Hungary today 4,517,000 people are in employment. This figure means that we are ranked in fourth place in the European Union, but the Government would like something more and something better: we want to at least catch up with the Czech Republic. I hereby inform the Honourable House that in the first seven months of the year average earnings increased by 10.6 per cent, and the rise in the minimum wage is the fourth highest in the EU. The latter means that there are still three countries ahead of us, and so we would all do well to work even harder. I can inform you that significant changes have taken place in relation to the national debt: we have reduced it from 83.5 per cent in 2010 to 68 per cent. At least as important is the fact that while in 2010 50 per cent of our debt was held by foreigners, we have reduced this figure to below 20 per cent. This means that the interest we pay on state debt is not paid to foreigners, but to Hungarians. I now take this opportunity to encourage everyone to buy Hungarian government securities.
Honourable House, Honourable Fellow Members of Parliament,
I wish to thank my Fellow Members of Parliament for their help. I will also be counting on you in the future.
As regards the decisions of the Council of the European Union, I can tell you that we have elected a president to lead the European Commission who may be able to correct the mistakes made in the past few years in the areas of the economy and migration. I felt that it was my duty to prevent the election of a president whose words and actions were disrespectful to the Hungarian people, and also to prevent the election of those who want to implement migration plans that run counter to the will of the Hungarian people. We concluded the necessary background agreements and achieved our goal.
I can inform you that last week we concluded an agreement with the United Kingdom regarding its withdrawal from the EU. I have always thought it fair for us to respect the decision of the British people and to conclude a fair agreement on their withdrawal. This has now happened. I have consented to an agreement which protects the interests of Hungarians working in Britain, and which is also good for the Hungarian economy.
This is the good news. The bad news is that on Friday the council of prime ministers refused to start talks on the European Union membership of Macedonia and Albania. This is a bad decision, but I hope it is not a tragic one. What would be tragic would be for Serbia’s accession to be halted for any reason. Serbia is the key issue and the key country for our region and for stability. Without EU membership Serbia is unable to stabilise the Balkans. Therefore Hungary continues to support the rapid accession of all Balkans countries – but in particular the accession of Serbia and Montenegro.
The council of prime ministers also started the debate on the EU’s next seven-year budget. On every important issue positions are far from each other. There is not even consensus on the next seven-year budget’s fundamental questions. As part of the budget, we also spoke about climate policy issues. Hungary has a goal – and a plan assigned to that goal – to ensure that, by 2030, 90 per cent of the energy generated in the country produces zero carbon emissions. However, European prime ministers are now also discussing whether it is achievable – and if so how and at what cost – for the European Union as a whole to have a climate-neutral economy by 2050. Hungary’s position is that for our country this is achievable, but only with the aid of radical and far-reaching programmes for transformation of the economy. We have started preparing the plans for this, and last week I informed the European Union of our related financial needs. In order to make a breakthrough in the three main areas – to render our electricity generation fully carbon-neutral, to fully replace the use of natural gas, and for transport to be 100 per cent electricity-fuelled – we may need 50,200 billion forints, or 150 billion euros. This is not impossible, but it will not work without a major contribution from the European Union. We will need that contribution.
Finally, I can inform you that we will finalise the list of draft legislation to be submitted to you at the sitting on 24 October. Thank you for your attention. I wish you success, productive debates and sound decisions in your work during the autumn session.
Thank you for your attention.