Budapest (MTI) – Viktor Orbán suffered a defeat at the EU summit; Hungarians working abroad will now be clearly worse off, the opposition Socialists’ deputy chairman told MTI on Saturday.
Jobbik party said the prime minister had taken a U-turn on the issue of migrant quotas by supporting the European Council’s closing declaration on the relocation of migrants. The party’s deputy head Dániel Z Kárpát said that while the prime minister and his cabinet are using “militant rhetoric” to attack the quotas and collecting signatures at home, they do not stand up for their position abroad. He called on the prime minister to reject all forms of the settlement quota and reinstate independent border control.
MEP István Újhelyi said the United Kingdom could restrict allowances for workers from EU member states for not four, but possibly seven years and other EU member states could also limit certain welfare benefits for workers from EU member states. The opposition politician said the Hungarian prime minister never really cared about the interests of young people and families living abroad and “is even lying about their numbers”. At the Brussels press conference, the prime minister said there are about 200-300 Hungarian families living in England, he added. Újhelyi said Orbán is perfectly aware that there are now several hundred thousand Hungarians working in the United Kingdom alone.
Nóra Hajdú, board member of the Együtt party, also said Orbán was partly to blame for the fact that life will become harder for Hungarians working in the UK. Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Hajdú said Orbán also approved the European resolution on the implementation of the migrant settlement quotas in spite of having launched a “shameful campaign” against migration with the national consultation, while the Fidesz party’s local initiatives across the country are calling on the government to do its best to undermine the European Union’s decisions.
Deputy head of the leftist Democratic Coalition Csaba Molnár said Orbán was among the leaders who voted in favour of the distribution of migrants based on quotas and has thereby become a “political celebrity”, incapable of protecting the country. This shows that the prime minister “has lied to Hungarians” because he said in his government’s billboard campaign that the system of migrant quotas is harmful and he will not allow any migrants to be settled in Hungary, Molnár told MTI.
The green opposition party LMP said the prime minister has let Hungarians living abroad down and proved unfit to represent and protect their interests. Party spokesman József Gál told MTI that although the agreement reached at the Brussels summit on the reform package is a success, it is a failure from the point of view of Hungarian migrant workers. He said LMP believes that wages in Hungary should be raised so that Hungarians working abroad will be able to return. At the same time, the Hungarian government should represent the interests of Hungarian workers in Brussels so that they enjoy the benefits they are due as EU citizens while they are living and working abroad.
Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said the opposition parties that criticise the prime minister for having supported the European Council’s closing declaration on the relocation of migrants are either unfamiliar with the EU’s decision-making process or are deliberately trying to mislead the public on the results of the summit. Kovács said the resolution Jobbik, DK and Egyutt are referring to pertains to the voluntary quota scheme proposed last summer on distributing 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece among other member states, strictly on a voluntary basis. Kovács stressed that Hungary did not approve the mandatory quota scheme.
The government spokesman said Hungary’s position on the matter has not changed. The government continues to oppose migrant quotas and believes that the EU has failed at handling the migrant crisis, which is why the Visegrad Four grouping of Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic have recommended a migrant policy based on border protection, he said.