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Inadequate response to immigration played key role in British decision

The Hungarian prime minister said that we may face serious problems in the European Union unless measures are enacted to ensure that the issue of migration is not conflated with the issue of EU membership.

He pointed out that efforts should be made to ensure that people get some sort of guarantee that their voice is heard in Brussels. It is important to develop an EU migration policy which responds to people’s needs and does not inevitably lead to them rejecting it, even at the expense of their EU membership.

He said that the issues of EU membership and migration must be separated. “We must fight to prove to the people that it is possible to develop an adequate European migration policy which coincides with Hungarian national interests”, he stressed.

“This will be the result of a long struggle here, in Brussels, for which we – and I personally – will need a strong mandate, which cannot be guaranteed without a referendum”, he added.

At the press conference the Hungarian prime minister stressed that there is no point in pressuring the British into triggering the procedure leading to termination of the UK’s EU membership. Until that happens, however, there must not even be any background negotiations. He added that everything will remain in force as it is today until the end of the withdrawal procedure.

The Prime Minister told the press that the leaders of the EU’s Member States agreed that even after its departure, in return for access to the single internal market the United Kingdom will have to respect the principle of the four freedoms of the European Union: the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

The foundations of the European Union are not formed by its institutions, but by its Member States

In the wake of last Thursday’s referendum rejecting the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU, there must be a return to the idea that the Member States – rather than its institutions – form the foundations of the European Union, Mr. Orbán stressed. He said that the democratic nature of the EU can only be strengthened through the Member States.

“We cannot afford to sit backwards on the horse. The EU is not in Brussels, but in twenty-seven – or still at this point in time, twenty-eight – capitals”, Mr. Orbán said after the informal meeting on Wednesday.

In answer to a journalist’s question he pointed out, however, that – contrary to some reports – the Hungarian government is not demanding the resignation of the President of the European Commission. He said that in this situation “it would be extremely discourteous” to attack the heads of the Commission or other EU institutions.

He also said that there was a great deal of emotion at the Tuesday meeting of the EU’s twenty-eight national leaders, at which the British prime minister outlined the situation in his country.

Mr. Orbán added that over the last few years the United Kingdom has been a good ally of Hungary, and the two countries were also able to agree on most issues within the EU.

In the UK on Thursday a referendum was held to decide whether the country should remain a member of the European Union. According to the final official result, 52 per cent of valid votes were for the country’s withdrawal, while 48 per cent were in favour of remaining.