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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

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Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2001 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(98) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(1999) 505 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2000) 705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1748 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1404 - Not published in the Official Journal]

Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1205 final - Not published in the Official Journal]

Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]


The November 1998 Report noted that considerable progress had been made, but also called for further efforts to be made to fully transpose the acquis.

The October 1999 Report confirmed that Hungary had made progress in transposing the acquis in this area. However, it recommended that particular attention be paid to implementing Community rules on the protection of health and safety at work and the application of Community rules pertaining to labour law.

The October 2000 Report confirmed this progress, with some reservations concerning in particular health indicators which were well below EU figures. In addition, significant efforts were needed to implement Community rules on health and safety and on equal treatment.

In the next two years, Hungary made significant progress. In the areas of labour law, equal treatment for men and women and health and safety at work, Hungary transposed a large part of the acquis.

The 2003 Report notes that as regards labour law, equality of treatment between men and women, health and safety at work, social dialogue, public health, employment policy, social integration and social protection, Hungary basically meets the commitments and requirements arising from the accession negotiations. It should be in a position to implement the corresponding acquis as from accession.

As regards the European Social Fund and combating discrimination, Hungary meets most of the requirements for membership and should make further efforts in this direction.

The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.


In the social affairs field, apart from the various specific action programmes, such as those in the area of public health, and the European Social Fund, EU legislation covers health and safety at work, labour law and working conditions, equal opportunities for men and women, coordination of social security schemes for migrant workers, and tobacco products.

In all these areas, the EU's social legislation lays down minimum requirements, accompanied by safeguard clauses for the most advanced Member States.

In addition, the consultation of the social partners and the social dialogue at European level are enshrined in Articles 138 and 139 of the Treaty (ex-Articles 118a and 118b).


The unemployment rate is continuing to fall. It fell from 7.8% in 1998 to 5.7% at the end of 2001 (according to the International Labour Office). This involves mainly long-term unemployment, with major regional disparities. In 2002, the unemployment rate fell to 5.6%.

The 2003 Report recalls that additional efforts are needed effectively to implement the conclusions of the Joint Assessment of Employment Priorities. It is also particularly important to raise the employment rate, notably for older workers, women, unskilled and disadvantaged persons, and to reduce regional imbalances. It is also necessary to promote mobility and to reinforce employment incentives. Finally, it is necessary to focus more on combating undeclared and informal work.

As regards labour law, Hungarian legislation is partly in line with the Community acquis. During the second half of 2001, the Directive on employer insolvency was transposed.

The 2003 Report states that Hungary has transposed virtually the entire Community acquis relating to labour law, notably by adopting the new Labour Code in March 2003. A certain number of adjustments are still needed to complete the alignment of Hungarian legislation with the acquis as regards transfers of undertakings and working time. The new acquis on the information and consultation of employees, as well as the involvement of workers in the European company, should be transposed after accession.

As regards the social dialogue, major changes have been taking place since 1998. The trade unions have been losing members ever since the start of the economic transition, although there are still too many trade unions and employers' organisations for social dialogue to be fully effective. The tripartite National Labour Council, which replaced the Interest Conciliation Council at the beginning of 1999, is responsible for employment matters, including pay, but unlike its predecessor, its remit does not extend to budget and tax issues or social security rules. During 2003, national tripartite organisations were set up and tripartite social dialogue made considerable progress.

Although the autonomous bipartite social dialogue needs to be further consolidated, considerable progress has been made in this area, especially since May 2002. The conclusion of collective agreements should be encouraged at sectoral and company level.

The 2002 Report notes that Hungary is well advanced in terms of equal treatment for men and women. On the eve of accession Hungary has adopted all the legal instruments required in this area. It should now continue to consolidate the implementing structures.

Having transposed the Directive on the manual handling of loads, Hungary continued its efforts in areas relating to exposure to biological agents, visual display units and personal protective equipment. Hungary has also made major efforts to transpose the acquis, particularly as regards workplaces, the building sector and mining.

According to the 2003 Report, the basic legislation on health and safety at work has been adopted and will enter into force on accession. Adjustments are still required to ensure complete alignment, notably as regards the employers' obligation to do their utmost to ensure the consultation, information and participation of workers.

Since 1998, Hungary has been participating in the Community programmes to promote health, combat cancer, prevent AIDS and other communicable diseases and prevent drug addiction. Since then it has also implemented a far-reaching reform of its public health system.

In 2003, Hungary adopted a law to transpose the acquis concerning tobacco addiction. As regards the surveillance and monitoring of communicable diseases, Hungarian legislation is in line with the acquis. However, the efforts currently being made to consolidate its surveillance and monitoring structures should be continued.

As regards the European Social Fund, the key elements of the administrative structures required are in place. However, it is still necessary to reinforce decision making capacity and interdepartmental coordination.

The 2003 Report states that Hungary must further strive to implement the reforms adopted as regards social protection, notably as regards the health and pension system, which would contribute to improving the level and effectiveness of social protection.

In the course of 2004 the Commission and Hungary must finalise the Joint Memorandum on Social Inclusion, which identifies key challenges and possible policy orientations for promoting social inclusion. On this basis, a national integrated strategy and a National Action Plan on social inclusion will have to be developed.

In the field of combating discrimination, the 2003 Report calls on Hungary to make substantial efforts to improve the situation of its Roma minority which, despite the efforts undertaken in the preceding years, remains difficult.

Last updated: 09.01.2004