Hungary to vote on EU refugee quotas in October

Hungary announces plans to hold a referendum in October to vote on the mandatory settlement of refugees without the consent of parliament.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

A policeman tries to control migrants as ticket control rules now mandate each passenger to have allocated seats on trains bound for the West from Budapest.

Hungary announced on Tuesday plans to hold a referendum on October 2 on the European Union’s quota system for resettling refugees.

A press release from President Janes Ader’s office stated that Hungarians will answer 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 parliament?"

The government of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which supports the referendum, has held an anti-refugee stance since the crisis intensified last year. Orban has opposed the resettlement policy of 160,000 refugees across the EU.

Encouraged by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, a decision taken by Britons who had grown frustrated with the refugee crisis, Orban has argued that the quotas are "illegal and unreasonable", adding they "could redraw Europe's cultural and religious identity."

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during his state-of-the-nation speech. [Reuters]

Hungary and Slovakia have already started a court challenge against the EU plan, which would see resettlements over two years aimed at easing pressure off Italy and Greece. Both the latter two countries have served as the main entry points to the continent for refugees crossing the Mediterranean.

In 2015, more than a million refugees from the Middle East and Africa arrived in Europe and more are waiting at borders hoping to reach wealthier EU countries such as Germany, Sweden and Finland.

The main transit route to reach these countries runs through Balkan countries and Hungary. Hungary recently erected a razor-wire fence on its borders to keep out refugees passing into the country illegally.

The construction of the fence has been harshly criticised by human rights groups.

The main regulation that determines an EU member state's responsibility to examine an application for asylum seekers under international protection is Dublin Regulation.

According to the Regulation, an asylum seeker has to apply for asylum in the first EU country they entered. Moreover, if an asylum seeker crosses borders without official treatment, such as fingerprinting, they can be returned to the first country they entered.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel undermined the Regulation in September. She lifted the state’s right to return Syrian refugees to the first country of entry, and called on EU members to revise the Regulation to deal with the refugee crisis.

TRTWorld and agencies