The European Commission’s error
12. 07. 2016.
In an article published in Monday’s edition of conservative German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán blamed the European Commission for the crisis which is affecting the European Union. Mr. Orbán calls on Member States to reclaim their spheres of competence from Brussels.

In his article, entitled “Are You Opposed to Peace?”, Prime Minster Orbán writes that “in 2005 something went wrong” when France and the Netherlands rejected the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. In 2008 the European elite – which had drawn its legitimacy from economic achievements – suffered a defeat, and this process came to a head in the “geopolitical crisis” in Ukraine in 2014 and the migration crisis barely a year later. This is how the EU arrived at the British referendum, which is a turning point, because it is the first example of “a move towards disintegration”.

The remaining 27 Member States with their population of 444 million continue to be an entity of “enormous power and potential”, but the success of the community requires every individual, every nation and every Member State: “Institutions cannot act in their stead”, Mr. Orbán emphasised.

The institutions “must not marginalise Member States”, wrote the Prime Minister, who added that we “must put an end to the move away from the nations of Europe”, and discard the false perception that we have of ourselves. Similarly we must recognise that “the experiments which sought to create direct, democratic legitimacy for the institutions of the European Union by circumventing the Member States have in fact produced precisely the opposite result”, and contributed to the majority of people in the UK becoming “fed up with the European Union”.

“The essence of Hungarian thinking is simple”, the Prime Mister stressed. The European Union is rich but weak, which is the worst possible combination of qualities, so we must avoid unproductive ideological debates on whether we need more Europe or less Europe: “where we need more, there should be more; where we need less, there should be less”, he wrote.

We must return to the consistent application of European law, which also means that “we must use the same standards for all of us” and “we must respect the role of national parliaments”, he added.

The main reason for the crisis and uncertainty is that, by disregarding the rules, we have put at risk Europe’s two principal achievements: the common currency and the single internal market protected by the Schengen borders: “in other words, our way of life and our economic model”. The long-term, systematic violation of the Stability and Growth Pact, the Schengen Agreement and the Dublin Regulations has become standard practice – furthermore, with the tacit approval of the Commission, Mr. Orbán writes.

“Our community is both one of values and of shared responsibilities. Good examples of this are our budgetary framework and the system for the protection of our external borders. In neither case does the responsibility begin in Brussels, but in the Member States”, he highlighted.

EU cooperation must be strengthened according to the principle of “flexible integration” in areas dictated by “common sense”, such as the protection of the external borders, digitalisation or industrial policy, common foreign and security policy, defence and development policy, he added.

The other fundamental task is the restoration of people’s sense of security, he added, pointing out that while the Spanish method proves the defensibility of the blue border, the Hungarian method has proven the defensibility of the green border.

Today more than ever we need Member States to combine their efforts and we must recognise that Germany’s “central position” will become ever stronger, Mr. Orbán continued.

He writes that Germany can rely on Hungary to share Europe’s common obligations, and this “remains true even though we must clarify one important thing […] I can sum up this issue in a single word: ‘fence’”.

The Prime Minister stressed that Hungary’s actions in building the fence include “protecting the European people’s way of life and economic model” as well as their security, and accordingly Hungary is acting as a ‘”good, law-abiding European” should. He added that Hungary’s standpoint is that the migration burdens on Europe should not be distributed, but we should instead aim “to eliminate them: to put an end to them”, and he pointed out that thanks to Hungarian efforts the protection of the external borders now enjoys a broad consensus.

In addition to the fence, there is another word which we should discuss. That word is “voluntarism”, Prime Minster Orbán added, highlighting the fact that according to Brussels’ institutions the migration crisis can be solved by a forced quota. The Prime Minister highlighted the dangers in this, writing that “until we regain the ability to control the situation on our external borders, and until we decide who may enter our territory, any kind of distribution scheme is an invitation”. Furthermore, mandatory distribution is not possible “if the smuggler or the migrant in question is the one who decides on their ultimate destination”. Thirdly, this message about Brussels’ intentions is encouraging “millions of economic migrants to set out [for Europe]”.

The European Council has approved the principle of voluntarism on several occasions, but other institutions in Brussels have refused to acknowledge this, in addition to which the European Commission’s latest proposals seek to mix together three different dimensions: asylum, legal immigration and demography. According to Mr. Orbán this is a “grave error”.

In the article the Prime Minster also highlighted that “The economy is the most important indicator of the EU’s decline”, which means that in addition to security we also need growth.

Hungary, together with the whole of Central Europe, is a “reliable partner” in Germany’s approach based on fiscal discipline, competitiveness and structural reform, and in a “new European growth programme”, Prime Minister Orbán stressed, adding that the “rebirth of the European ideal” is possible and that Hungary, together with the other countries of the Visegrád Group, feels determined, strong and committed enough to play a proportionate role in this.