Monday

20th Jan 2020

MEPs challenge Orban's 'horrible' migration survey

  • "We shall not allow economic migrants to jeopardise the jobs and livelihoods of Hungarians” says Viktor Orban (Photo: Klara Zalan)

Liberal members of the European Parliament on Tuesday (April 28) urged the European Commission and fellow members states to verify that a public consultation on migration launched in Hungary complies with EU values and laws.

In a questionnaire to be sent out to 8 million citizens over 18 years of age, Hungarians are asked to answer 12 questions on whether “the mismanagement of the immigration question by Brussels may have something to do with increased terrorism”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • According to official data, 1.4 percent of the 10-million population are foreigners in Hungary. The EU average is 4 percent. (Photo: Axel Buhrmann)

They are also asked if they would support the Hungarian government in detaining illegal migrants who “themselves should cover the costs” of staying in Hungary.

In a letter accompanying the survey, prime minister Viktor Orban writes: “Economic migrants cross our borders illegally, and while they present themselves as asylum-seekers, in fact they are coming to enjoy our welfare systems and the employment opportunities our countries have to offer”.

Orban adds: “We shall not allow economic migrants to jeopardise the jobs and livelihoods of Hungarians”.

“The questions are leading and manipulative,” said Dutch MEP Sophie In' t Veld in a statement, referring to the whole questionnaire as "horrible".

Cecilia Wikstrom, a Swedish liberal MEP, said it showed how Orban is distancing Hungary from Europe and “transforming Hungary into a mini-Russia".

The Hungarian government wants to be able to detain all those who cross borders illegally, something that is only allowed in exceptional cases under EU law.

It also wants to have migrants work to cover the costs of their accommodation or detention in Hungary.

Orban’s rightwing Fidesz government is keen to immediately deport migrants “who prove to have merely abused the European rules which encourage illegal migration,” spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told press last week.

Budapest says it needs the public consultation so Orban can stand up to the European Commission with the backing of the majority of Hungarians.

After last week’s emergency EU summit on migration, Orban called the EU's existing immigration regulations “stupid" and said that "immigration should be stopped”.

There has been a spike in the number of asylum seekers over the last few months in Hungary – part of Europe's visa-free Schengen zone – rising from a few thousand in 2012 to 43,000 in 2014, according to official data.

Almost all migrants travel onwards to Austria and Germany. Hungary’s stringent migration policy means only a few hundred get asylum annually.

According to official data, 1.4 percent of the 10-million population are foreigners in Hungary. The EU average is 4 percent.

Some suggest Orban, whose Fidesz party has seen a plunge in polls recently, is seeking to embrace issues championed by the far-right Jobbik party, the largest opposition force in Hungary.

Death penalty

Another issue where Orban has echoed Jobbik is on the reintroduction of the death penalty, forbidden in the 28 members of the EU.

He raised the matter on Tuesday after a deadly stabbing grabbed local headlines.

Orban told reporters in the southern city of Pecs that existing punishments for serious crimes were too soft.

"The death penalty question should be put on the agenda in Hungary," he said.

An effort to reintroduce capital punishment, so far only pushed by Jobbik, would put Budapest on a collision course with Brussels.

Orban gives Putin warm welcome

Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban on Tuesday became the first EU leader to receive Russian president Vladimir Putin for a bilateral visit since last June.

MEPs to discuss civil liberties in Hungary

The EP's civil liberties committee is to discuss Hungarian PM Orban's recent flirtation with reintroducing the death penalty, and a controversial Hungarian survey on immigration.

Juncker annoys centre-right on migration

EU commission chief Juncker has said the outcome of the EU summit on migration is "inadequate", putting himself at odds with his own political family.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us