Monday

29th May 2017

Hungary to hold referendum on EU migration plan

  • Orban: "You cannot make decisions over people's heads" (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Hungary will hold a referendum on European Union plans for a system of mandatory quotas, prime minister Viktor Orban said on Wednesday (24 February) at a press conference.

Voters will be asked to answer the question: "Do you want the EU to be able, without the consent of the Parliament, to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary?". Orban did not specify when the plebiscite would be held.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Hungarian prime minister said that nobody has asked the European people so far if they support, accept or reject the migrant quota system, which could fundamentally change their lives.

"You cannot make decisions over people's heads, against the will of the European people on issues that seriously affect their lives and that of future generations," he said, arguing it is a question of European democracy.

Orban also said the migrant quotas would redraw the ethnic, cultural and religious map of Hungary and Europe.

"The government is bowing to public sentiment. We feel that introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the backing of the people amounts to an abuse of power," he argued.

The maverick PM said he would recommend holding a referendum in other countries as well.

Orban added that this is a fundamental and unavoidable question: "can anyone else decide for Hungarians who we Hungarians should or should not live with?"

Hungary rejected the decision on mandatory relocation quotas for 120,000 asylum seekers decided by qualified majority in the EU Council last September, where Hungary was overruled.

Along with Slovakia, Hungary has challenged the decision at the bloc's top court, the European Court of Justice.

Under the council decision, Hungary would have had to take in 1,294 asylum seekers from Italy or Greece, but has refused to do so while the court case is pending.

Orban earlier in the week told parliament that the EU plan to expand last year's one-off decision into an automatic mandatory resettlement programmewould top the agenda at the March EU summit.

"What's at stake at the European Council meeting in March is whether to have the prime ministers' blessings on a mandatory resettlement quota system, as part of EU law, that would continuously transfer migrants here, that we don't want to allow in," he said in a speech on Tuesday.

'Common sense'

Hungary has been criticised for erecting a fence last year along its southern border with Serbia and Croatia to stop the flow of migrants.

Orban has also been advocating for months a strengthening of the EU's external borders and creation of a second line of filters for migrants at the Macedonian-Greek border.

Earlier in the week, Orban said that at last week's summit the EU had accepted the Hungarian approach, namely stopping migrants as a priority.

"In a political sense we are now where the EU should have been a year ago," he said.

"The Balkan countries and Austria have taken the path of common sense," Orban told the parliament, referring to the decision of the countries along the Western Balkan migration route to tighten border restrictions.

Orban: EU leaders lack will to stop migrants

Hungarian PM said European leaders lacked will to create migration plan and vowed to fight mandatory relocations, while building a fence on Romanian border.

Stakes grow in Hungary's migration referendum

Orban's referendum on migration in October is designed to alter EU policy and boost his popularity. But in the post-Brexit climate it could mark a bigger anti-EU swerve.

UN concerned by Hungary's migrant push-backs

UN refugee agency has voiced concerns over new Hungarian rules leading to push-backs of asylum seekers and urged authorities to investigate reports of violence.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhat's Going on in Catalonia? Join the Debate on 8 June
  2. Swedish EnterprisesDo We Need a More Social Europe? A Lively Debate Awaits You on 7 June
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersDiscover the Role of Feminism in the Peripheries of Europe on 9 June
  4. Malta EU 2017EU Group Launched to Focus on Priorities and Policies Concerning Children
  5. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  8. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  9. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  10. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  11. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  12. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade

Latest News

  1. Macron and Putin hold uneasy first talks
  2. From Greece to Scotland, we stand by Europe
  3. Juncker keen to build EU 'bridge' to Trump
  4. Ministers water down post-Dieselgate reform
  5. Club de combat: des espions russes recherchent des recrues européennes
  6. Judges refuse to 'let go' of Le Pen's fake jobs case
  7. Merkel: Europe cannot rely on its allies anymore
  8. Macron to tell Putin EU sanctions to stay