The European Commission is planning to slap down Hungary’s decision to hold a referendum on compulsory migrant quotas, claiming that holding a democratic vote would not “fit into the decision-making process” agreed by European Union (EU) states.
The quota system redistributes migrants from the most overwhelmed countries, including Germany, Greece and Italy, to EU states that have proved less popular with newly-arrived migrants.
The system is extremely unpopular in Eastern European countries, including Hungary, who feel Western Europe is using it to force thousands of migrants on them.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban now plans to challenge the policy by holding a referendum on quotas that will almost certainly see the plan rejected.
However, Euractive reports that the European Commission has questioned Hungary’s stance. Spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said: “We fail to understand how it would fit into the decision-making process which was agreed to by all member states, including Hungary, under the EU treaties.”
Mr Orban defended his decision in an interview with German tabloid Bild, telling the paper: “We cannot make decisions over people’s heads that will significantly change their lives and those of future generations.
“The quota would change the profile of Hungary and Europe: ethnically, culturally, and religiously. My decision is not directed against Europe. It is a decision to protect European democracy.”
He added that the EU’s quota system violates its own laws: “This decision is not legal. It contradicts EU law. We are filing a suit against it, and so are the Slovakians. Plus, how many of those 160,000 have been distributed so far? Only a few hundred. This distribution key is nonsense, it does not work. But no one in Brussels wants to admit that.”
Mr Orban also laughed off any threat of EU sanctions against Hungary for failing to comply: “That is nothing but attempted scaremongering! The next EU budget will be decided in 2020. Sanctions would then, i.e. in a couple of years, require the votes of all member states. That will not happen.”