Hungary stated that it would resist any attempt by the EU to deny it the right to defend its borders and would fight to abolish the Pro-migration policy of the centre-right group to which it belongs in the European Parliament.
The prime minister, Viktor Orbán, was isolated last week when a majority of MEPs from the European People’s Party (EPP) grouping helped form the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to start a sanctions procedure against Hungary for repeatedly breaching EU laws. The procedure could result in fines or a loss of voting rights.
In an address to the Hungarian parliament Orbán claimed that a proposal for a 10,000-strong EU border force, which will be discussed at a summit in Salzburg this week, was an attempt to strip nation states of their right to defend their borders.
Orbán’s chief spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, went further, saying Hungary would resist any EU-wide migration reform that was proposed before European parliament elections in May.
Many EU countries were still determined to meet their labour market needs by allowing hundreds of thousands of people into Europe every year, Kovacs said, adding that “a pro-migration globalist political elite” was trying to shut down options for after the European parliament elections. “We should not decide on EU-wide migration issues at an EU level until after the elections,” he said.
On Sunday Michael Gove, the UK environment minister, refused to criticise Hungary’s illiberal leader and his country’s hardline migration policies, hinting in a BBC interview that the UK needed Hungary’s support as part of the Brexit process.
Conservative MEPs drew fierce criticism last week when they voted against disciplinary proceedings against Hungary for breaching EU values on migration, media freedom and judicial independence.
However, in a blow to Orbán, the Austrian president, Sebastian Kurz, and the leader of the European People’s Party group, Manfred Weber, deserted Hungary on the vote. Weber, eager to prevent the EPP from splitting, called on EU leaders at the weekend to discuss the Hungary crisis at their informal summit in Salzburg this week, a move welcomed by Kovacs.
Kovacs said Orbán would resist any efforts in Salzburg to change the EU’s immigration and asylum laws until after European parliament elections in May, when it is expected that more anti-migration MEPs will be elected.
“The global elite still believe it is in the west’s interest to permit hundreds of thousands of migrants every year,” Kovacs said. “It is impossible that we have to follow the French or Germans.”
A plan by the European commission, the EU’s executive body, for a 10,000-strong EU border force to police Europe’s borders would weaken national sovereignty and the right of nation states to police their own borders, Kovacs said. “The commission plan is not going to happen,” he added.
Kovacs admitted the loss of support from within the EPP had not been a “pleasant experience” but said it showed “that pro-migration policies are not simply a leftist liberal agenda”.
Although more than half the EPP group voted to discipline Hungary, he said the relatively narrow majority within the EPP explained why Orbán’s party, Fidesz, wanted to stay in the group and bring about policy changes.
He predicted that the composition of theEuropean parliament “will look very different after the elections”. Some EPP members want to expel Fidesz, saying it has more in common with far-right populist parties than the EPP’s Christian Democrat tradition.