With representatives coming from eight Eastern Central European countries, i.e., Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia, a European citizens’ initiative has been launched to achieve a European Wage Union. The declaration to that effect was adopted and signed in Hotel Kempinski, Budapest.
“Today’s events are the evidence that we can join our forces for common goals,” Jobbik’s president Gábor Vona stated in his speech opening the conference for a European Wage Union. Expressing his view that the representatives of the participating countries had already won their first battle, he noted that there was still a long and winding road ahead before they could accomplish their goals.
We want no charity from Western Europe
“We have taken on a historic mission,” Mr Vona asserted. He added that he had not heard of any other initiatives that could bring on such a wide cooperation in the Eastern Central European region.
Jobbik’s president emphasized that the initiative was reaching far beyond the issue of European wages: it aimed for competitive domestic enterprises, a new cohesion policy and a new European Union with more solidarity where Eastern Central member states could feel at home, too. He also noted that their citizens’ initiative for a wage union was not against Western Europe. It is not charity they are after. Instead, they want the European community to provide equal conditions for each member state. Criticizing the current situation, he said that the movement of workers was one-directional and “price union” had already been implemented while wage union had not. “The initiative we are launching today is about Europe’s future, too. A strengthening Eastern Central Europe is important for Western Europe as well,” Mr Vona asserted.
Internal emigration driven by wage inequalities in Europe
Márton Gyöngyösi, the elected presiding chair of the conference said:
“It is time that we, instead of our governments who are either unwilling or unable to do so, took on this task, called the European public’s attention and declared that we want justice and equality.”
MEP Krisztina Morvai, who was present as a guest, also made a speech pointing out the contradiction between the EU wanting to regulate almost anything except the different living standards.
The participants designated Márton Gyöngyösi as the representative and contact person of the Citizens’ Committee and Estonian Conservative People’s Party MP Jaak Madison as his substitute. They also agreed that Hungary should provide the central office of the Committee and create a website, a Facebook and a Twitter page for the initiative.
The signatories of the document (from left to right): Dragoş Tîrnoveanu (Romania), Péter Pallér (Slovakia), Márton Gyöngyösi (Hungary), Konstantīns Pupurs (Latvia), Jaak Madison (Estonia), Paveł Gawluk (Poland), Frano Čirko (Croatia), Mikhail Petrov (Bulgaria)
After the conference, the representatives of the participating countries signed the declaration of the European citizens’ initiative in front of the media.
“We, the signers of this document, know that history bound our fates together. Today we commit to a joint future, too. The 20th century brought a sea of torment for our nations. In the 21st century, we are fully determined to join our forces and lay the foundations of peace, justice, security and prosperity for all of us!” says the declaration signed by the participants. Opening the first press conference of the newly-formed Citizens’ Committee, Mr Gyöngyösi said that Eastern Central European countries had shared the same fate since the 1990s. They got rid of Communism hoping that they could integrate into the Western half of Europe and reduce the gap in living standards. However, this could not take place because the economic policy conducted in these countries resulted in a further widening of the gap instead of a converging trend. This is the shame of our political elites since the governments had a chance to raise the issue in the European Union but they failed to do so. In Mr Gyöngyösi’s opinion, the citizens’ initiative could serve justice for Eastern Central Europe and call the attention of Western Europe to a grave inequality. He warned that European inequalities could eventually lead to the EU’s disintegration.
The signatories all agreed that the EU accession caused disappointment in many cases. The average salary in the Eastern Central European region is still a fraction of the Western European wages. There is a brain drain going on, with highly-skilled labour force emigrating to Western Europe. This process is driven by the inequalities of European wages.
Last December, Jobbik’s president Gábor Vona announced the launch of the campaign for eliminating wage inequalities in Europe. To launch a European citizens’ initiative and make the European Commission put the issue on its agenda, you need to collect one million signatures in seven EU member states within a year. In recent weeks, Jobbik’s foreign affairs delegation went on a tour to find allies in Eastern Central Europe. Among others, Members of Parliament and trade union representatives of the affected countries came to the Budapest conference on Tuesday.