PM Orbán: Take migration and border protection away from the Commission, give them back to the national governments

Drawing on the remarks of other prominent political figures at this weekend’s Budapest Summit on Migration, including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán concluded that migration and border protection competences should be returned to the EU’s member states and delegated to an independent council comprised of EU interior ministers.

“Four years have passed since 2015,” said Prime Minister Orbán, speaking at the summit earlier today, and “we have to admit that EU leaders and EU structures have proven unable to resolve the issue of migration and border protection.”

If Brussels has not succeeded so far, according to the prime minister, we have no reason to believe that they would in the future. “And in politics,” he continued, “the most important thing is the ability to admit to failure."

“Migration and border protection competences should be withdrawn from the [European] Commission and returned to the Member States, who’ll hand it to an independent council comprised of EU interior ministers,” PM Orbán said, reiterating the proposal he put forward in an interview earlier this month and adding that “if we could achieve this with the EP elections, then it would have already been worth it.”

Prior to PM Orbán’s address, four prominent figures shared their views on the issue of migration today.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Europe is currently experiencing a decisive moment, yet it’s more divided than ever before. “Hungary is the country of my father, it’s a country with extraordinary history,” Sarkozy said adding that Hungary is also a country of “great democracy”.

On border protection, the former president said that “Europe has the right to its borders, and they have to be defended.” He called for a “grand” development plan for Africa to make sure that people can make a decent living in their own countries. In his words, this would put an end to “social tourism to Europe”.

Meanwhile, former Czech President Václav Klaus offered an economic perspective on the issue and advised to identify its supply and demand. The supply component, according to the former president, is evident: conflicts in the developing world create a “reservoir of potential migrants”.

The demand for migration, however, is more complex as it is rooted, Klaus said, “in multiculturalism, in progressivism, and liberal democracy and the pseudo-humanism of political correctness.” European elites, who value diversity over unity and heterogeneity over homogeneity, attempt to eradicate nation states, “dissolve the existing nations by mixing them with migrants from all over the world.”

Coming from a country with a tradition of strict border protection, former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer recounted Australia’s five key principles when it comes to immigration. First, “we believe in the nation state being the fundamental way human beings organize themselves,” he said, adding that the second element is the expectation that migrants can, although not necessarily will, contribute to Australian society.

As the third fundamental point, Australians don’t believe in the concept of open borders. “We believe that we need to control our borders. The critical thing to do is to break the business model of the people smugglers,” Downer said. On refugees, he warned that these people are not only looking for protection, they are also looking to migrate.

Finally, “if you do take people as migrants, you want to make sure that they integrate,” he concluded.

Former Spanish Interior Minister and European People’s Party Vice-President Jaime Mayor Oreja said that there is disorder in the European Union and this disorder has led to our current situation. “We have to be able to free European thinking from the currently prevailing cultural trend,” Oreja said.

The European Union was born with “lots of soul, but very little body,” but now we have lost all this soul and developed “too much body,” the Spanish politician said, referring to the extensive EU institutional framework that renders the bloc unable to resolve problems like migration and border protection.

The Budapest Summit on Migration, hosted by the Mathias Corvinus Collegium, continues through Sunday. Read more about the Summit here and the agenda here. Follow the livestream here.