Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

Hungary and Poland defy EU authority

  • "We can say Poland is the machine driving the union," Hungary's PM Viktor Orban (l) said while visiting the Polish PM Beata Szydlo (r). (Photo: premier.gov.pl)

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban attacked EU migrant quotas and pledged to protect Poland from EU sanctions in Warsaw on Friday (22 September).

"We don't want a mixed population, as is being created in countries to the west of us. We want other solutions, so please respect that," he said.

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With Muslims accounting for most EU asylum seekers, he said he did not want to see "the Christian element constantly decreasing" in Europe.

"We accept that some [EU] states have become immigrant states. We don't want to be like that and we want them to accept it, but they want us to become like them," Orban said.

Orban spoke on an official visit to Poland, where he met Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo, president Andrzej Duda, and the head of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

The European Commission has threatened to fine Hungary and Poland for defying EU votes and court rulings on taking asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

But Poland's Szydlo attacked the migrant quotas the same way Orban did.

"The path our governments chose on the matter of illegal immigration turned out to be right … the main basis of our actions has to be the security of our citizens," she said.

The Commission has also threatened to impose sanctions on Poland due the PiS party's attempt to take control of Polish courts.

But Orban pledged to block any such measures, alluding to EU rules that required unanimity to go ahead.

"I think that the EU criticisms on violation of rule of law in Poland are unfounded," he said.

"It sounds like some kind of inquisition. Hungary will never agree to that," he said.

He said the Commission's procedure against Poland was a "political mistake" and that it had "treated Poland with lack of respect".

He also said the migrant quotas and the Polish judicial dispute were part of a bigger battle over the balance of power in the EU.

"We're saying: 'Less Brussels, more member states'. That's how we want to see Europe in the coming decades. Our standpoint is the reason why someone has taken aim at Poland and launched political attacks," Orban said.

Szydlo said the Commission "often exceeds its powers and is guided by political, not factual, motives".

"Bullying will get us nowhere," she said.

She added that Hungary and Poland were taking a joint position on France's proposal to limit the rights of foreign posted workers in the EU.

She said the transport sector should stay out of the reforms so that Hungarian and Polish road hauliers would not be affected.

Orban celebrated Hungarian-Polish relations by praising PiS in glowing words.

"If we look at Poland's economic, cultural, scientific achievements, we can say Poland is the machine driving the union," he said.

There was little information about Orban's meeting with Kaczynski, who is widely seen as the power behind the throne in Poland.

The special relationship between Hungary and Poland began when the two right-wing politicians first met face-to-face in January last year.

Article 7 not mentioned in Poland probe update

While Polish president Andrzej Duda proposes amendments to further increase political control over the judiciary, EU ministers voice support for the rule of law, but make no mention of the Article 7 sanctions.

Agenda

Macron speech and Catalan vote This Week

French leader to detail his vision for Europe on the eve of an informal summit in Tallinn. Catalans to try to hold "illegal" referendum on Sunday.

MEPs put 'Article 7' against Poland on launch pad

MEPs urged Poland to comply with the EU treaties and to halt the 'reform' of the judiciary that could further undermine the rule of law in the country. Polish PM Beata Szydlo called the vote 'outrageous'.

Opinion

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

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