In a press conference, Gábor Vona, president of the far-right Jobbik party, discussed the details of his party’s recent EU citizens’ initiative intended to reduce regional wage disparities throughout the Union, telling those assembled that his group now has one year to collect a total of one million signatures.
This is Jobbik’s latest move in its ongoing attempt to soften its image and move towards the center of Hungarian politics after years on the radical right.
The Citizens’ Initiative
According to the European Commission’s official site,
“The European citizens’ initiative allows one million EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies, by calling on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal.”
The proposal launched by Jobbik is officially titled “Let us reduce the wage and economic differences that tear the EU apart!” It calls for “legal acts” that show the EU’s commitment to the elimination of wage inequalities among member states and that “to achieve this objective – allow for a more efficient cohesion of these states.”
The initiative’s main objectives, as officially registered on the European Commission’s website, are the following:
“Due to significant wage differences the movement of workers is one-directional. Massive emigration leads to less-favored Member States falling even further behind. Meanwhile, richer Member States experience a massive influx of workers as an intrusion upon their interests, which tears the EU apart. The EU needs to clearly demonstrate its intention to eliminate wage inequalities affecting the free movement of workers in order for which the EU needs a more efficient cohesion to ensure its survival.”
It was officially registered with the European Commission on May 22nd, meaning that Jobbik now has exactly one year to collect the million signatures necessary to receive an official reaction from the EC.
The citizens’ initiative was prepared jointly by citizens from 8 central and eastern European member states.
The campaign will have to gather a minimum number of signatories in at least seven EU member states on its way to one million signatures.
The minimum number of signatories varies by member state, as it must be 750 multiplied by the number of MEPs elected from the given member state. This means that a minimum of 17,250 valid signatures will need to be collected in Hungary, Vona said, adding that his party intends to exceed that number many times over.
The Jobbik leader said that this initiative is a call to cement the principle of “equal pay for equal work” among the EU’s basic principles.
He added that signatures would also be collected electronically, with strict data protection conditions. The data of those signing the petition electronically will be sent to EU servers, he said.
The ruling Fidesz party responded to Vona’s plans by claiming that Jobbik is “toeing the line for Brussels” with this citizens’ initiative. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s party said in a statement that “if the EU were left to set taxation policy and determine wages, Hungarians would not be the ones to benefit from the bloc’s policies.”
The party added that If the opposition truly considered it important for people who make a living as employees to get ahead, they should support the government’s 2018 budget bill.
What Happens Now?
Jobbik and its allies in other EU countries now has a year to drum up support for its initiative. If they succeed, the European Commission will meet the organizers, and give them an opportunity to present their citizens’ initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament.
The Commission will also issue a formal response, which will either list the actions it proposes to address the citizens’ initiative, or give reasons for not proposing any action at all. The EC is not legally required to put forward any legislative proposals in response to a citizens’ initiative.
Via MTI, Hungary Matters, and Europa.eu
Image via MTI