Socialist MEP István Ujhelyi has sent a letter to the European Commission and European Council presidents, calling for more resources from the common EU budget to be spent on public health. Ujhelyi told an online press conference that EU direct spending on public health now amounts to 450 million euros. Before the coronavirus epidemic, 413 million euros had been set aside for the next seven years, he said, adding that this was a drop in the ocean. He said the EU would not be able to handle a similar situation to the current one with such measly resources in the budget for the next seven years. With greater resources, the EU would be able to improve public health, prevent epidemics and finance research and development, he said, adding that dozens of lawmakers from the EPP, the Greens and the Liberals had joined an initiative to boost health spending in Europe.
Meanwhile, Ujhelyi insisted that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had falsely claimed that Hungary had not received help from the EU to fight the epidemic. He said twelve EU instruments worth at least 1,000 billion forints in EU funds were available to the Hungarian government for health care and dealing with the economic fallout of the epidemic. Money in principle is available to the government to compensate people for lost wages, for providing jobless benefits up to nine months, for hiking the wages of health-care staff, and restarting the economy, he said.