Is Europe Losing Its Soul?
Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead
Chapter 6: Recent changes moving Hungary away from the European Social Model
Hungary inherited a fairly comprehensive welfare model from the Socialist regime, which was further consolidated at the moment of entering the European Union (EU) and the adoption of the EU acquis. However, this system has been challenged by a number of recent reforms. This chapter describes in particular the radical transformation of the Hungarian welfare system over the past three years. Although cuts in welfare provisions have occurred repeatedly in response to fiscal crises during the past 20 years, we shall argue that the recent changes are much more fundamental and are determined by different, more political motivations. The weakening of workers’ rights and consultative institutions, the severe cuts in social protection for the unemployed, the abolition of early pensions, the renationalization of the private pension pillar and the neglect of equal opportunities policies have substantially weakened the originally relatively generous welfare system in Hungary. This has led to a further polarization of society, deepening poverty, growing insecurity and a rise in emigration.
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