Hungary reportedly stepping up efforts to welcome Ukrainian migrants

By bne IntelliNews September 22, 2016

Recent legislative amendments made by the Hungarian government are aimed at making it possible for thousands of Ukrainian's to come to work in the country, local press speculated on September 22.

The ruling Fidesz party - which is currently running a harsh anti-immigrant campaign ahead of Budapest's upcoming referendum on the EU’s migrant quota system – has not publicised the measures. At the same time, the government appears in danger of tying itself in knots over whether welcoming foreign workers could offer a solution for labour shortages, or a threat to national security and Hungarian culture.

Although Fidesz earlier denied it has plans to turn to migrants to solve labour shortages, Economy Minister Mihaly Varga told Heti Valasz last week that the government should make it possible to fill job vacancies with workers from the European Union, or from neighbouring countries outside the bloc. Up to 10,000 Ukrainian citizens have worked in the country in the last few years, and the government has taken various measures since last August to help them.

As the result, Ukrainians can be hired under Hungary's public works programme, and can also apply for state housing allowances. As Ukrainian citizens fall in the category of "citizens of neighbouring countries", they are ensured preferential treatment on the job market over applicants from other migrant source countries such as Syria or Afghanistan.

The newspaper speculates that the measures could attract “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian workers to the country. 

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