Mar 08, 2018 - Zoltán Kovács

Migration and its spillover effects continue to be the greatest challenge for Europe

Instead of creating a humanitarian right out of migration, it can and should be stopped

Earlier this week in London, I spoke to a group of British and Hungarian journalists at our embassy there and took the opportunity to talk a bit about European values and respect for the rules.

Critics enjoy lecturing the government of Hungary about European values and the rule of law and how membership in the EU means one has to follow the rules. Viewed from Budapest, it’s often the European Union that does not stick to its own regulations. Take the rules of the Schengen Agreement, for example. Arguably one of the EU’s greatest achievements, the freedom of movement in Schengen depends on border security. Hungary has worked hard since the early days of the migration crisis in 2015 to secure the borders, which, let us not forget, are also external frontiers of the EU’s Schengen Area.

As we see it, instead of insisting on the rules in place, the EU has chosen a different approach by promoting a quota system that does nothing to stem or stop illegal migration but instead redistributes the repercussions throughout Europe. That’s a flawed approach on many points, but it also imposes a distorted version of European “solidarity” that will never work.

We’re also seeing another disturbing trend in the conversation about migration, a claim that migration is an advantageous and unstoppable process. The Hungarian government strongly opposes any approach of this kind. On the contrary, we hold the view that migration can be stopped at the EU’s borders. What’s more, we challenge the assertion that migration is a human right.

Migration is extremely expensive, and integration or assimilation, from what we have seen in Western Europe, is not working. A few years ago, German Chancellor said of her own country’s experience that the attempt to build a multi-cultural society has “failed, utterly failed.” In a recent interview, the chancellor elaborated on the problem of no-go zones in Germany (see my blog post on the topic here), a topic that had been taboo. Hungary challenges any recommendations or measures that would simply lead to the same kinds of problems that already exist in western Europe.

A reporter at the London meeting asked me about the Hungarian government’s Stop Soros legislative package. To be clear: the goal of the legislative package is to close legal loopholes relating to migration. One serious problem is that many organizations who present themselves as human rights groups are, directly or indirectly, assisting illegal migration. Protecting the borders of the union is the responsibility of member states and the relevant EU organizations, and there is no need for the interference of non-governmental organizations. Where humanitarian assistance is needed, NGOs must cooperate with national organizations and authorities by strictly obeying the rules.

On Brexit, we have been clear, and I took the opportunity on Monday to reiterate our position: the EU should not be thinking in terms of punishing Great Britain. Rather, it should set a target for a “fair Brexit” in order to achieve a better exit solution. The Daily Mail and Express seemed to think this a bold stance, but we are convinced this is possible, especially following British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s visit to Budapest last week. I don’t think that European Commission Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier should accuse the British government of “cherry-picking” when trying to do the best for its people.

On future bilateral cooperation, all 27 EU member states — not only Brussels — must find common ground on every issue relating to Brexit. And we insist that the rights already acquired by EU citizens living in Great Britain cannot be repealed.