Bill on Medical Chamber could threaten EU funds for Hungary

March 03. 2023. – 08:35 AM



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The bill on the medical chamber, passed in record time earlier this week could stand in the way of EU funding for Hungary, Népszava reports. In response to questions from the paper, a spokesperson for the European Commission told the paper that

"The recent bill adopted by the Hungarian Parliament and the way it was presented could be decisive with regard to the fulfilment of Hungary's commitments."

On Tuesday afternoon, the parliament's Fidesz majority passed a motion which was proposed on Monday that significantly reduces the influence of the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors (MOK), primarily by abolishing the mandatory membership requirement among doctors. This means that, while until now only those who have joined the chamber could work either as a general practitioner or a hospital doctor in Hungary, this will no longer be essential, and current members of the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors will have to declare their intention to continue as members. If they fail to do so within 30 days, their membership will be automatically terminated.

The law further stipulates that in the future, a body appointed by the minister responsible for healthcare and higher education will be responsible for the rating and evaluation of continuing education trainings, while the MOK will only be able to formulate an opinion on the appointment of its members as senior managers. Ethics procedures will be transferred to the Health Sciences Council, as will the creation of the new code of ethics, which will be approved by the minister responsible for health. In the future, the chamber will only have the right to give an opinion on the code of ethics.

Compulsory membership in the chamber was last abolished under the Gyurcsány government. At the time, Fidesz demanded its reinstatement, which it did in 2010.

It was precisely because of its mandatory membership that the MOK has been one of Hungary's strongest professional representative bodies, as all doctors were members, it had local and county boards, and the national assembly of delegates addressed and made decisions on issues affecting the whole Hungarian medical profession.

Népszava has now asked the European Commission whether it believes that the fast-tracked amendment to the law is in contradiction with the promises made by the Orbán cabinet in exchange for the disbursement of funds from the EU's economic recovery fund. According to Népszava, the Orbán government had previously committed to submitting at least 90 percent of the legislation it initiates to public consultation for at least a minimal period of time, or if it failed to do so, to provide adequate justification for not holding consultations on it. The cabinet also promised to carry out an impact assessment for all proposed legislation. This is one of the conditions on which the €5.8 billion funding depends.

The spokesperson said that the implementation of the promise on public consultation and impact assessment would be examined in the case of six out of eight payment requests. The Hungarian government also has to meet several other conditions before the EU funds can be paid out, which the cabinet has pledged to fulfil by the end of March.

Read more about the ongoing conflict between the government and the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors in this article.

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