In relation to a report that the EU is mulling a 10th package of sanctions covering nuclear energy, State Secretary Csaba Dömötör told public radio that ordinary Hungarians had made their views clear: they want fewer costly sanctions and their opinions to be heard.
The parliamentary state secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office said, in an interview with Kossuth Rádió on Sunday, that if sanctions applied to nuclear energy, countries such as Hungary that heavily rely on nuclear energy would pay a high price. A recent National Consultation survey found that 97% of respondents were set against any kind of sanctions on nuclear energy, gas and oil, Dömötör said, adding that the sanctions against Russia had failed to bring any closer an end to the war, yet Europe’s economies were increasingly suffering as a consequence of the sanctions. He said economic growth in the European Union as a whole would struggle to rise above zero because of the energy situation and concomitant sanctions. He added that the European Commission president reckoned that Europe face a gas shortage of 30 billion cubic meters this year. Dömötör said leaders would come under great pressure from citizens to change direction. Hungary’s energy bill is increasing from 7 billion euros to 17 billion, and the government is having to fork out 2,600 billion forints to pay for the subsidy on energy bills, he said. Even so, the government is pressing ahead with expanding family benefits, and an agreement has been reached on the minimum wage, he said, adding that pensions were also being raised. If inflation outpaces the pension increase, a pension supplement will be awarded, he added. The official also said that nurses’ wages will be raised in July, and teachers can expect a 10% increase. If Hungary’s EU funding is unblocked, then teachers can expect a raise of 21% this year and increases amounting to a combined 75% over the following two years. Dömötör said real wages had gone up by more than 4% last year. The government wants to see inflation brought to below 10% by the end of the year, he added. On the subject of the withdrawal of EU Erasmus funds, he said the Hungarian government had accepted demands made by the European Commission, and parliament adopted 17 amendments in the autumn accordingly. “Now they’re coming up with new conditions …” he said. Hungarian students, he added, will not be put at a disadvantage as the government is ready to step in and make up for any Erasmus funds that are withdrawn in 2024.