Hungary to Amend Constitution to Block EU Migrant Plan
by Soeren Kern
October 9, 2016
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has proposed amending the Constitution to prevent the European Union from settling migrants in Hungary without the approval of Parliament.
In a speech on October 4, Orbán said the amendment would be presented to Parliament on October 10, and, if approved, it would come into effect on November 8.
Hungarian voters overwhelmingly rejected the European Union’s mandatory migrant relocation plan in a referendum on October 2, but failed to turn out in sufficient numbers to make the referendum legally binding.
More than 97% of those who voted in the referendum answered ‘no’ to the question: “Do you want the European Union to be entitled to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without the consent of the National Assembly?”
Voter turnout was only 40%, however, far short of the 50% participation required to make the referendum valid under Hungarian law.
Orbán has been a vocal opponent of the EU’s plan to relocate 160,000 “asylum seekers” from Greece and Italy. Under the scheme, 1,294 migrants would be moved to Hungary. The Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia, all former Communist countries, are also opposed to the EU plan, which they say is an “EU diktat” that infringes on national sovereignty.
Although the referendum has been invalidated, Orbán — whose eurosceptic Fidesz party has more support than all opposition parties combined — said he would not be deterred. Speaking to supporters after the polls closed, he said:
“The European Union’s proposal is to let the migrants in and distribute them in mandatory fashion among the member states and for Brussels to decide about this distribution. Hungarians today considered this proposal and they rejected it. Hungarians decided that only we Hungarians can decide with whom we want to live. The question was ‘Brussels or Budapest’ and we decided this issue is exclusively the competence of Budapest.”
In an address to Parliament on October 3, Orbán hailed the vote as a “great victory” and reiterated his plan to amend the Hungarian Constitution to ensure that the EU cannot settle migrants in Hungary. He said:
“No party or party alliance in the history of Hungarian democracy has ever received such a large mandate. I’m telling you with sufficient gentleness, we will not let the opinion of the 3.3 million people who voted ‘no’ to be ignored.
“… with sufficient modesty and restraint I must say that Hungarians made history yesterday. If it is true that history is written by the victors then with a resounding victory of the ‘no’ votes Hungary won yesterday.”
In Brussels, Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesperson for European Commission, the powerful administrative arm of the European Union, said that regardless of the referendum, EU law still takes precedence over Hungarian law. He said:
“On the referendum, if it had been legally valid, our comment would have been that we take note of it. Since it was declared legally void by the Hungarian electoral commission, we can now say that we also take note of it…. One of the principals underpinning the system is the primacy of EU law.”
The EU’s unrelenting stance, and Orbán’s continued opposition to it, implies that the intra-European fight over what to do with hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East is far from over.
Some 400,000 migrants passed through Hungary in 2015 on their way toward Western Europe. Since then, Hungary has built fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia, effectively cutting off the so-called Western Balkan Route, which constitutes the main land route through Eastern Europe for migrants who enter the EU from Turkey via Greece and Bulgaria.
Read more here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9088/hungary-migrants