Hungary and Bulgaria opt out of EC’s refugee distribution plan

June 26, 2015

Orban

Visiting Brussels yesterday Prime Minister Viktor Orbán convinced EU leaders that Hungary should not have to accept refugees under the European Commission’s planned quota. Hungary will also receive special treatment with regards to providing asylum to 60,000 asylum seekers who will be distributed in other EU Member States. Bulgaria is the other Member State to receive such preferential treatment.

Hungarian news site 444.hu reports that EU leaders met in Brussels to discuss, among other things, providing asylum to refugees seeking to enter the EU. The debate was sparked by the high number of people arriving from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

The European Commission recommended that EU Member States provide asylum to 60,000 refugees over the next two years. 40,000 refugees currently seeking asylum in Italy and Greece will be distributed among other EU Member States to help alleviate the burden on transit countries. The remaining 20,000 refugees will be provided asylum outside the European Union.

EU Member State leaders scrapped a plan by the Jean-Claude Juncker-led Commission that would have imposed a quota on distributing refugees among EU Member States. Instead, Member States will have the opportunity to offer asylum as they see fit to the 60,000 asylum seekers. Precisely how that will work out will be decided at a meeting of Member State interior ministers.

Hungary and Bulgaria indicated their unwillingness to participate in the voluntary providing of asylum to refugees.

Italian officials heavily criticized those Member States which opposed the Commission’s planned quota system. EU leaders also agreed that migrants who do not qualify as legitimate asylum seekers must be sent back to their country of origin.

Hungary’s problems were also on the agenda. Government representatives called on the EU to organize a conference in Budapest regarding migrants arriving in Hungary through the Balkans.

It appears Hungary’s decision to suspend its obligations under the Dublin III Regulation on Tuesday night were successful. The move put Hungary on the map with countries which are experiencing huge problems with migrants, such as Italy and Bulgaria.

EU leaders agreed that any Member State which deliberately violates the rules governing asylum seekers may compromise its place in the Schengen zone. Greece was also criticized for its poor refugee registration system. Hungary is especially concerned about Greece’s problems because many of the refugees arrive in Hungary via Greece. Many of these refugees request asylum in Hungary upon entering the Schengen zone.

The Hungarian government stated that its position has to be so tough because it is concerned about an influx of migrants if Greece collapses financially, not to mention what would happen if the crisis in Ukraine escalates. The government’s decision to come out so hard against migrants is an indication that it is seeking financial assistance from the EU in this area.

Referenced in this article:

Orbán nagyot ment Brüsszelben: hozzánk nem küldenek menekülteket, 444.hu; 26 June 2015.