In Hungarian referendum, EU’s Navracsics voted against Brussels

Tibor Navracsics votes. [Pestisracok]

The EU’s Hungarian Commissioner, Tibor Navracsics, said in his home country that he had voted ‘no’ in last weekend’s referendum, in which Hungarians were asked whether they approved EU-wide quotas to relocate asylum seekers.

“I think the Union cannot take decisions, which are obligatory for Hungary, without asking the Hungarian parliament,” Navracsics said in an interview, held on Sunday (2 October).

The Commissioner then added he had voted “no” in the Sunday ballot.

According to the Commissioner, whose portfolio includes education, culture, youth and sports, the question asked at the referendum was about “values and sovereignty”.

The referendum question was: “Do you want to allow the European Union to mandate the resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary, without the approval of the National Assembly?”

Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán suffered a blow on 2 October in his revolt against the European Union after low voter turnout voided his referendum. He, however, remained defiant and said there would be “legal consequences” regardless.

Orbán loses his referendum gamble, remains defiant

Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán suffered a blow yesterday (4 October) in his revolt against the European Union after low voter turnout voided his referendum aimed at rejecting a contested migrant quota plan.

Nobody in Brussels would have noticed Navracsics’s interview, until MEP Csaba Molnár, from the socialist opposition party “Democratic coalition” (S&D), announced he had sent a letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, asking him to take a position.

Asked yesterday (6 October) to comment on Navracsics’s statements, which are obviously contrary to the Commission’s policy, Commission spokesperson Alexander Winterstein said he was not aware of it.

‘Check yourself’ asked Winterstein if Navracsics had ever taken a position against the EU’s relocation policy during the weekly College of Commissioners’ meetings.

Winterstein said journalist were free to check themselves by reading the minutes of the College meetings, where he said the individual positions of Commissioner were reflected.

The “minutes” are a very bureaucratic type of document, listing legislation approved, which makes it almost impossible to discern the opinions expressed by any of the Commissioners.

Asked to comment on the “values” aspect, Winterstein replied that those underpinning the EU’s decision on migrant relocation are “solidarity”.

In an email sent to EURACTIV later yesterday, Winterstein confirmed that Juncker had received the letter in which Molnár asks Juncker to take a position.

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