Hungary seeks workers from outside EU to ease labour shortage

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EU foreign ministers meet in Luxembourg

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary will allow in temporary workers from non-EU states to alleviate a labour shortage and help the economy recover, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Thursday.

Szijjarto said some employment agencies will be allowed to import skilled labour under strict conditions.

Central Europe's economies are recovering more quickly than expected from the coronavirus pandemic, but a chronic shortage of workers that pre-dates the crisis could hinder growth.

As investment and European Union funds flow in, companies in the manufacturing, information technology and construction sectors are jostling to attract employees.

Szijjarto said new legislation, including on temporary workers, aimed to "help the fast restart of the economy, to be the fastest to restart in Europe".

The new rules allow agencies to bring in temporary workers from countries other than Hungary's non-EU neighbours. Rules for workers from Ukraine and Serbia were eased in 2017.

Other measures announced by Szijjarto include easing bureaucratic burdens on small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as cheap loans to help Hungarian companies expand abroad or invest in green projects.

Hungary's economy fared better than expected in the first quarter of this year despite coronavirus lockdown measures.

(Reporting by Anita Komuves; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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