Frans Timmermans, addressing a Hungarian Socialist Party congress in Budapest on Saturday, called for fair wages in the European Union and closing the wage gap between women and men.
The First Vice-President of the European Commission, who is the European Socialist Party’s Spitzenkandidat, told the congress held to vote on the Hungarian Socialist Party’s European Parliament list that he would not enter into deals with the far right should he become commission president.
He said the Socialists should turn their attention to young people and stand by them, creating conditions in Hungary so they do not leave for abroad.
Referring to a student who recently addressed anti-government demonstrations, Timmermans said: “You must stand by young people, as the Hungarian Socialists did in the case of Blanka Nagy”.
He said the so-called “slave law” was not the right response to Hungary’s labour shortage. Instead, the government should ensure decent working conditions, appropriate wages and a good education, he added.
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If elected as EC president, he would close the forty percent gap between the wages of men and women, he said, adding that this would also be true in the case of pensions.
Timmermans insisted that stimulating the birth rate did not hinge on tax relief but on providing a good education and child care.
He vowed to fight against corruption and questioned why the Hungarian government refused to sign up to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Doing so would ensure that EU money is spent properly, he added.
Photo by Márton Mónus/MTI
Timmermans said patriotism was preferable to nationalism, which he argued was fuelled by a fear of other peoples.
No one, he said, was born to hate and no one was born to anti-Semitism. The response to hatred by the Socialists should not be more hatred, he added.
He said the upcoming EP election was all about “Europe’s beating heart”, and at stake was whether a Europe of solidarity would emerge.
Timmermans said he’d be glad to sit down with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and discuss their differences of opinion.
He cautioned the congress attendees “never to be soft”. He said
We demand academic freedom, press freedom and freedom of civil organisations.”
No compromises should be made when it comes to the independence of the judiciary, the equality of citizens and the rule of law, he said.