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.
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’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.