An issue which Magyar Idők calls a pivotal battle for the future of the European Union, Népszabadság dismisses as a ‘non-issue’.The debate on migration in Hungary and the European Union reflects a fundamental difference between two points of view on Europe’s present and future, Ferenc Kiss writes in Magyar Idők. He suggests the decision by Hungary’s top court, the Kúria, to authorise a referendum on compulsory migrant quotas is an important milestone in this struggle.
On Tuesday the Kúria approved a Fidesz-KDNP sponsored referendum designed to repel attempts by the European Union to relocate refugees according to compulsory quotas. The battle began with a decision by EU Interior Ministers last September which would have compelled Hungary to take in 1,294 refugees by September 2017. The Hungarian government announced in February that it planned to table a referendum (see BudaPost February 26th, 2016), and when the proposed question was validated by the National Electoral Committee, it was taken to court by opponents on two grounds: that it was unconstitutional as it might affect Hungary’s international agreements, and that the subject fell beyond the jurisdiction of Parliament.
The referendum is more justified than ever, Magyar Idők’s analyst asserts, quoting Tuesday’s Financial Times which revealed a plan by the European commission to impose huge fines (€250,000 per migrant) on countries that refuse to comply with the scheme. Migrant quotas are irresponsible and senseless, Kiss warns, since people can move freely within the Schengen zone and cannot be told where to live. Under these circumstances, Magyar Idők proclaims, these quotas are nothing more than an attempt by eurocrats and certain interest groups to force their world-view upon the peoples of Europe in order to break up nation states. Rootless individuals, Magyar Idők argues, are more easy to control than conscious communities. The stakes are high in this referendum, the author warns, because voters can now say no to these dictates from Brussels.
Left-liberal Népszabadság, on the other hand, declares the referendum question totally pointless and argues that this is an issue that in fact does not exist. The paper’s front page editorial claims the EU does not prescribe compulsory migrant quotas and even if it did in the future, Hungary’s share would not match the number of foreigners to whom it has sold its lucrative settlement bonds (a program according to which foreigners buying government bonds are granted residency permits in Hungary). And while Hungarian citizens are allowed to vote on a non-existent issue, Népszabadság fulminates against the court, they are denied the right to do so on such topics as nuclear power expansion (see BudaPost July 11th, 2014) and the Olympic games (see BudaPost, January 22nd, 2016) – issues that will ‘determine the future of a generation’.