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Taking action against compulsory quotas is the highest priority

The Prime Minister announced that at its meeting on Wednesday the Government will formulate its position on what action should be taken against the Brussels plan for a compulsory resettlement quota system.

Mr. Orbán pointed out in summary that the fact that “the situation will be increasingly difficult in the West” is a major threat for this year; in his view there is enormous pressure on Hungary and the other three countries of the Visegrád cooperation: Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland.

This matter, he continued, relates to whether or not the EU will succeed in pushing a new EU migrant system “down the throats of the Central European countries”; this system would authorise the EU to distribute migrants admitted by individual Member States among the other countries of the EU.

Therefore, he said, what will be at stake at the next EU summit – which has been brought forward to the beginning of March – is whether the heads of state and government will sanction a compulsory resettlement quota system; he said that, as part of the EU’s legal system and as a kind of permanent asylum mechanism, this system would continuously transport to Hungary migrants whom Hungary does not wish to let in and whom Hungary has been stopping at its southern borders.

The Prime Minister sees warding off this “attack from Brussels” as the highest priority in the next few weeks and months.

Mr. Orbán said that the Hungarian government will evaluate the situation at its meeting on Wednesday, and will formulate a position as to how to avert “Brussels’ attempt to use its regulatory regime to transport and settle in Hungary – on an ongoing basis, over the years – unforeseeable numbers of people with whom we do not wish to live”.

At the same time he reiterated that the EU has already adopted a one-off decision on the resettlement of 160,000 migrants. Hungary and Slovakia have not accepted this decision and have launched legal action in order to obtain a court ruling that “this obligation was imposed on Hungary unlawfully”.

In evaluating last year’s  migration situation, Mr. Orbán said that 2015 was a difficult year for the whole of the EU, as “millions of unidentified and unknown people emerged in an uncontrolled manner on the southern borders of the continent and Hungary”. The Hungarian response, he said, was “controls, identification, interception and turning back”, as required under the Schengen Agreement.

In his view, the most important development in the latest EU summit was that for the first time the Hungarian approach was adopted for the whole of Europe, and the EU finally declared that stopping the migrants is the number one task.

The summit in Brussels made it clear, he continued, that the external borders must be protected; this had previously been a secondary consideration, compared to other asylum and humanitarian criteria.

The summit also made it clear that everyone must fully observe the terms of the Schengen Agreement, Mr. Orbán said. He said that, in a political sense, at this point in time the EU is where it should have been one year ago.

He remarked that the countries on the Balkan route, including Austria, “have embarked on a path of common sense”.

“Whichever way they may put it, and no matter how they argue”, he concluded, at the EU summit principles were approved and tasks were designated on the issue of migration which the Hungarian government has proposed throughout.

It follows from this, he said, that “the protection of our southern borders is now a realistic option”, and if the Austrians and the countries situated on the Balkan route keep their word, it will be easier to protect Hungary’s southern borders. At the same time, he stressed that this will not be easy, physical barriers will have to be reinforced, “and it is also conceivable that they may have to be extended”. The Government has not yet decided on such extension, but it is prepared for this eventuality.

The Prime Minister also told Parliament of the British proposals on a reformed EU which were approved at the Brussels summit.

He indicated that there was agreement on a number of issues, for example on the need to enhance the EU’s competitiveness, reduce bureaucracy and increase the legislative role of national parliaments compared with Brussels.

The greatest interest was aroused by issues related to the British system of in-work benefits, and he said that in this area important EU, Central European and Hungarian interests need to be protected.

The Prime Minister stressed that, as a result of the joint action of the countries of the Visegrád Four, we have succeeded in protecting the principle that the freedom of movement for workers continues to extend across the entire territory of the European Union and to every one of its citizens.

We have succeeded in protecting the in-work benefits of those paying contributions in Britain: “those who pay for social services of some kind […] will continue to remain eligible as they were before”, the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Orbán continued by saying that the real debate had been on provision for third-country nationals not paying contributions. He said that these cannot be withdrawn either, and may only be temporarily suspended after adequate justification and through a separate decision.

The Prime Minister told Parliament that it had also been possible to protect benefits for which those working in the United Kingdom do not pay contributions.

He said that it is an important achievement that the proposed changes do not apply to cross-border commuters.

Mr. Orbán continued by saying that the real debate had been on provision for third-country nationals not paying contributions. He said that these cannot be withdrawn either, and may only be temporarily suspended after adequate justification and through a separate decision.

The Prime Minister told Parliament that it had also been possible to protect benefits for which those working in the United Kingdom do not pay contributions.

He said that it is an important achievement that the proposed changes do not apply to cross-border commuters.