EU to launch infringement procedure over Hungary SZEP cards

Budapest, May 10 (MTI) – The European Commission will launch an infringement procedure against Hungary over its introduction of SZEP cards – a food and recreation voucher system – State Secretary at the Economy Ministry Kristof Szatmary said on Thursday.

Szatmari spoke at the general assembly of the federation of Hungarian hotels and restaurants, and suggested that Hungary could resolve the issue and retain the current system.


The state secretary insisted that the new system was designed to cut the high premiums for card providers and make utilisation of the cards easier for the end user.


Szatmary said that some 500,000 employees had requested the new cards by mid-April.


In February, the ministry told MTI that the EC’s concerns about new food and recreational vouchers were “incomprehensible and unwarranted”.


At the time, the EC was examining if the new system introduced this year complies with the EU rights of establishment and the right to provide services. The investigation also sought to establish whether conditions imposed under the system discriminate against foreign companies.


The ministry said that the new system had liberalised the market of food vouchers. The SZEP vouchers, whose conditions of issue the EC has criticised, are distributed by three companies, and a related decree enables all players meeting the criteria to enter the market, the ministry said.

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