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Politicians heading the European Parliament party lists of the opposition Socialists-Párbeszéd, LMP, DK and Momentum parties argued at a conference on Thursday for a stronger and more transparent European Union and joint action on migration. At the event organised by Republikon Institute, the opposition MEP candidates were divided over the issue of a European minimum wage and whether there should be a united states of Europe. Republikon board chairman Gábor Horn said surveys showed that 18-20% of Hungarians identified themselves as liberal. The question, he added, is who liberals should vote for in Hungary and where they might “find a temporary home”.
Klára Dobrev of DK said only a strong EU could protect liberal democracy and only strong and large communities could give the right answers to global challenges and find ways to reduce social inequality. This is also required to fight populists because the wealth gap also endangers democracy, she added. She underlined that DK promoted the progamme for a united states of Europe. Its prerequisites include direct taxing of multinationals by the EU and more efficient and transparent decision-making, she added.
Katalin Cseh of Momentum said the handling of European public monies had to be reformed and control must be exercised on spending. The majority of money should be spent on health care, education and job creation in order to prevent “unlimited theft and waste”. Momentum would make it obligatory for countries to join the European Prosecutor’s Office, she added. Commenting on the united states of Europe, she said when “the house is on fire” long-term integration is not the first priority.
Gábor Vágó of LMP said environmental sustainability must be granted priority because without it there can be no economic and social sustainability. “Not only is the house on fire but the roof has already burned down” and climate change means there is only 10 years left to take action, he added. The fact that large multinationals have control over politics is a huge challenge for late-stage capitalism, he said, urging lobbying activities to be regulated.
Bertalan Tóth, MEP candidate for Socialist-Párbeszéd and the leader of the Socialist Party, called for common European regulations to combat social inequality. He added that his party proposed introducing a European minimum wage of 750 euros which could be financed by taxing multinationals.
Concerning migration, all the participants called for joint European action. Tóth said the Socialists had never supported illegal migration or general quotas but insisted on the need to exercise solidarity and show humanity. Vágó said the main reasons for migration included climate change and arms trading. He added that strong border protection was necessary and Europe must help people succeed in their homeland.
Commenting on a survey showing that Hungarians consider migration the greatest challenge faced by the EU, Cseh said climate change, the distribution of EU monies and several other topics were also considered as important by voters and it is “absurd” that the government only concerned itself with migration. Momentum is calling for common European solutions, the strengthening of Frontex, the protection of sea borders and the development of a strategy for Africa, she said. Dobrev said she agreed with the need for joint European action but insisted that the main problem in Hungary was not immigration but emigration.