Hungary to hold EU refugee quota referendum by October

Viktor Orbán [L] said his government "cannot risk changing the fundamental ethnic character of the country". [European Council]

Hungary will hold a referendum in September or early October, on whether to accept any future European Union quota system for resettling refugees, the prime minister’s office said yesterday (3 May).

Hungary’s supreme court gave the green light yesterday for a national referendum this autumn in which the country’s government will campaign for the rejection of the EU plan to resettle asylum seekers here.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has taken an increasingly anti-immigrant stance since the refugee crisis escalated last year and opposes a plan, agreed to by a majority of EU governments in September, to redistribute 160,000 migrants around the bloc.

Along with Slovakia, Hungary has launched a court challenge against that plan, which will set quotas for each EU country to host a share of the asylum seekers over two years.

Slovakia takes EU to court over migrant quotas

Slovakia will launch legal action by next month against an EU quota plan to distribute 160,000 refugees and migrants across the bloc, a justice ministry spokeswoman told AFP today (24 November).

Hungary prepares to back Slovak legal challenge against EU refugee deal

Hungary will ask the European Commission to call off its decision on the distribution of refugees. The motion may have little support in the EU, but it is a clear statement of Budapest’s determination. EURACTIV France reports

The referendum will ask Hungarians whether they would accept any permanent quota system beyond that.

The question voters will be asked is: “Do you want the EU, even without the approval of Hungarian parliament, to be able to prescribe the mandatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary?”

“There are crazier and crazier ideas coming up in Brussels. It seems that Brussels has not given up on the plan for mandatory resettlement,” Antal Rogan, Orbán’s cabinet chief, told a news conference.

Once parliament approves holding the referendum, President Janos Ader will set a date for it, with Rogan calling the poll an “issue of national sovereignty”.

Hungary has erected a steel fence along its southern border to stop refugees, many of whom arrive in Greece fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and try to travel north to settle in countries such as Germany and Sweden. Several other countries in southeastern Europe have also put up fences.

Hungary claims it was forced to build border fence

Physical barriers are the only way Hungary can secure its borders, according to the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó, and Budapest still maintains its opposition to refugee distribution quotas. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Hungary’s planned referendum on the EU’s quota plan may be at odds with an agreed on strategy to handle the refugee crisis, the European Commission said in February.

Commission questions Hungarian referendum on migrant quotas

Hungary’s planned referendum on the EU’s quota plan for asylum seekers may be at odds with an agreed strategy to handle the refugee crisis, the European Commission said yesterday (25 February).

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