European Interest

Hungary, Poland demand ‘strong’ say in EU

Flickr/Gary Edenfield/CC BY-SA 2.0
A view of the Parliament in Budapest, Hungary.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on January 3 that the European Union’s migration policy has failed. He and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, also demanded a ‘strong’ say in the bloc’s future.

“In terms of migration and quotas that were to be imposed on [EU] member countries we strongly reject such an approach as it infringes on sovereign decisions of member states,” Morawiecki told a joint news conference after talks with Orban in Budapest.

Orban added: “The EU’s migration policy… has failed.”

“We want to have a strong say, as these countries [in Central Europe] have a vision about the future of Europe,” added the Hungarian leader.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Orban and Morawiecki lead conservative governments under fire from Brussels over their refusal to take in migrants under a quota system and over their efforts to tighten state control of their courts and media.

Both countries are all net recipients of EU funds, with Poland – the region’s biggest economy – benefiting most. Wealthier western EU states such as Germany want to keep a firm lid on spending, especially with the planned departure of net donor Britain from the bloc in 2019.

In December, the European Commission launched an unprecedented legal action against Warsaw to force it to reverse judicial reforms that Brussels says undermine democracy. In response, Orban said he would use Hungary’s right of veto to prevent any punitive sanctions against Poland.

According to Reuters, Orban’s Fidesz and the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland are both riding on their strong economic record, their tough anti-migrant policies and their defiance of EU institutions.

In related news, Radio Poland online noted that the two PMs also discussed issues including regional cooperation and infrastructure projects in Central Europe when they met in Budapest on Wednesday, according to officials.

The two countries’ foreign ministers, Poland’s Witold Waszczykowski and Hungary’s Péter Szijjártó, accompanied Morawiecki and Orban during their talks at the Hungarian parliament.

The Budapest trip marked Morawiecki’s first bilateral visit since he took over as Poland’s prime minister in December.

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