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Sep 26, 2016 - Zoltán Kovács

Yes, there is a quota plan out there and that’s the reason for the October referendum

As Hungary’s referendum on Brussels’ mandatory migrant relocation quotas approaches, there’s a particular question that crops up repeatedly.

Specifically, it comes from critics who ask what it is exactly that the Hungarian government is opposing with this referendum when, as they insist, there is no quota plan for the mandatory relocation of migrants.

That’s just not accurate.

In 2015, the European Commission proposed a plan whereby member states may voluntarily take a number of migrants from the border countries in order to ease the burden, for the given year. But the number of migrants to be resettled kept swelling and voluntary quotas suddenly became mandatory. Eurocrats first tried to get the change approved by the European Council (heads of state), where it would have required a unanimous vote, but as it seemed it might fail, they passed the proposition to the Council of Justice and Home Affairs, where it only needed a majority vote.

With this maneuver, the proponents of a mandatory resettlement scheme have not followed the rules and have assumed a power not bestowed on them by any ratified European treaty. Hungary, together with Slovakia and backed by Poland, is challenging the decision at the European Court.

Hungary’s October referendum – because a referendum cannot be held on existing policy – is not on the 2015 measure but on subsequent ones. A new resettlement scheme, one might think, would be impossible, but Brussels Eurocrats got down to business again in 2016.

Today, there is another plan afoot, put out by the European Commission, which would make 2015’s one-off measure a continuous procedure with no upper limits. Plans are quite detailed. The Commission proposal speaks of voluntary participation but would fine anyone who refuses to participate with a sum of 250 thousand EUR per migrant. Even if the latest EU summit in Bratislava did not discuss the proposal, it is out there.

Recently, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made a statement that the acceptance of migrants must come from within, but when the Commission’s spokesperson was asked to clarify the president’s vague words, the spokesperson said it “absolutely does not mean” that the Commission has abandoned the mandatory resettlement plan.

So, in fact, there is a quota plan out there and that’s why, on October 2nd, Hungarian voters will find the following question on a referendum: “Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens into Hungary even without the approval of the National Assembly?”

The decision of the Commission to propose a resettlement plan remains on the table and, if unchallenged, it would likely move forward through the European institutions. We know. Just look at the precedent. The purpose of the referendum is to provide the government of Hungary – and, by extension, other EU governments who oppose the quotas -- with a strong, popular mandate to challenge the plan.

Our justification is simple. There are certain European community rules that were delegated by the EU member states to Eurocrats to manage and there are responsibilities that belong to the sovereignty of each member state. Immigration policy is one of the latter.

“The Hungarian government takes the view that neither the EU, nor Brussels, nor the leaders of Europe have the authority [to impose an immigration policy],” said Prime Minister Orbán when announcing the referendum in February. “In fact, there is no European body or agency of any kind which has been vested with such authority.”

In this upcoming referendum that honors the most basic of European values – democracy and self-government dating back to the polis system of ancient Greece – we ask the people if they agree with us. As Brussels seeks to assume powers it was not given in the field of immigration and resettlement from outside the EU, without the consent of national governments, we ask our people to make their voice heard.

A quote attributed to Oliver Cromwell says, “Put your trust in God and keep your powder dry,” and in a sense Hungary’s referendum is our dry gunpowder – in a political sense, of course – to defend against over-reaching Eurocrats. Brussels may or may not go through with its plans to try to force member states to accept anyone who Brussels believes they should live with. But we’re going to keep our powder dry.