In order to heal the debilitating divisions characterising the European Union, the bloc must end its “political and ideological cold war” against member states, Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch said in a plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday.
Speaking after an address by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Deutsch said the EU had lost its leading role in the world and called for an end to the use of double standards against member states.
To heal what he called “institutional divisions” within the bloc, Deutsch said the EC should ensure that all EU citizens are able to exercise their right to take up work in other member states.
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The commission must also draft proposals aimed at eliminating laws that discriminate against central and eastern European businesses, Deutsch said, citing measures affecting the road haulage sector.
He urged the bloc to make an immediate decision on the admission of Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia to the passport-free Schengen zone. Despite being EU members for over a decade, the citizens of these countries are “still excluded” from the European system allowing the free movement of people, he said, adding that this was a “sad symbol” of the existing divisions in the bloc.
Deutsch said the EC should draft proposals on a variety of issues including climate change, the EU’s social pillar and immigration that would enjoy broad support from member states rather than lead to ideological disagreements.
Concerning Von der Leyen’s proposal on the distribution of EU funds, Deutsch told Hungarian reporters that the draft proposal calls for spending funds in a way that is in line with the values enshrined in the EU’s founding treaty. “It looks like she’s given up on the idea of promoting the rule of law mechanism that could be used as a political weapon,” he said.
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Klára Dobrev, an MEP of the leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK), told MTI in a statement that Hungarians were now just an arm’s reach away from a European minimum wage and a health union. “We believe that all European Hungarians are entitled to a chance to make a living, a fair wage and high quality health care,” she said.
Conservative opposition Jobbik’s Márton Gyöngyösi told the EP plenary that doubts had been raised concerning the EC’s credibility. Gyöngyösi argued that whereas in the past the commission had emphasised that it refuses to compromise on the issue of the rule of law, “there hasn’t been any progress regarding the state of the rule of law in Hungary.”
István Ujhelyi of the Socialist Party in a statement praised the EC president’s support for the idea of a health union. “Without strong health care there is no strong nation,” Ujhelyi said. “Without strong health-care systems there is no strong Europe.”
Featured photo by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI