Hungary announced on Saturday a plan to “defend Europe” in the face of the migrant crisis, defying a EU re-settlement scheme agreed in September.
The country’s conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban, long opposed to accepting refugees, will personally present the 10 point plan to several European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the official Hungarian government website said. According to the proposal, which it dubs “Schengen 2.0”, Hungary would “defend Europe” by increasing EU border defences and handling refugee cases outside of the bloc.
“If a country is incapable of meeting this obligation, it should ask for help from other member states or from the European agency for border protection (FRONTEX),” the text said. The proposals, which would be voluntary, reject the EU deal on re-settling migrants among member states reached in September. The emergency scheme was intended to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers currently in Greece and Italy although only 1,100 of these have been moved so far.
Hungary filed a legal challenge against mandatory quotas with the European Court of Justice late last year. Around 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 before Orban’s right-wing government sealed off the southern borders with razor wire and fences in the autumn. Authorities also brought in tough new laws punishing illegal entry and vandalism of the fences.
Around 2,200 people have been charged with crimes under the new legislation, the vast majority of whom have been served with expulsion orders. In February, Orban called a referendum on the mandatory migrant quota, saying Brussels had no right to “redraw Europe’s cultural and religious identity”.
The ballot is likely to take place in the second half of the year.