EU approves Hungarian referendum on refugee quota

Hungary has right to organise referendum on refugees quota, says leading migration minister

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, February 24,2016.

Hungary has the right to organise a referendum on refugee quotas, Klaas Dijkhoff, migration minister for the Netherlands - which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency - said on Thursday.

"Every country has the right to organise referenda. It seems to be quite popular these days on European issues," Dijkhoff told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers.

On Wednesday Budapest announced a referendum on the EU's plan to introduce mandatory quotas on refugees, as a part of its policy to prevent an influx of refugees from the Middle East.

"I don't think there is a prohibition on referenda in European law," Dijkhoff said.

"First of all, we have to see if there is a referendum, what the question will be, what the result will be and, then, what the government will take back to the European table."

The EU's top migration official said on arrival at the meeting that Europe was at a "critical moment."

"Lone initiatives do not lead anywhere. Right now, the unity of the union and human lives are at stake," Migration Commissioner Dimitirs Avramopoulos said. "There are only 10 days left till the 7th of March."

On March 7 EU leaders will hold a special summit with Turkey in Brussels to push forward a deal aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.

In the fifth year of the war in Syria more than 4.7 million Syrian refugees are registered in camps located in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Europe has also been heavily affected by the refugee crisis. Since the begining of 2016 more than 100,000 refugees have entered the EU - a number that is expected to increase - creating a political crisis within the union.

Some EU countries have already introduced unilateral border controls, including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

The threat of a refugee influx is pushing Schengen to the brink of collapse.

TRTWorld, Reuters