Hungary's neighbours fear job discrimination

BBC News Online, Saturday 9 June 2001, 21:54 GMT 22:54 UK

Concern is being voiced among Hungary's neighbours over a comment by the Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, that millions of foreign workers will be needed if the country's economy continues to expand at the current rate.

Mr Orban added that he hoped the vacancies would be filled by ethnic Hungarians returning home from abroad.

Three million of them are currently living in such countries as Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Slovenia.

The BBC Budapest correspondent says there are fears in other countries that a draft law in Hungary known as the Status Law—which would give preference in the job market to ethnic Hungarians—discriminates against their own nationals.

He says the law is also being studied by European Union officials to see whether it is compatible with Hungarian membership of the EU.

Mr Orban's remarks were seen as an attempt to allay fears in the European Union of an influx of workers from central Europe when the EU expands.