The present crisis only reassures us that the EU must find in national identities the resource that might strengthen its weakened legitimacy – said András Gyürk, MEP of Fidesz in an interview to Origo.
What do you expect from the upcoming European Council meeting?
I am not looking expecting miracles, but a change might begin in managing migration. My impression is that the effects of the referendum are about to unfold. What’s important is not EU leaders’ arrogant statements on the surface, but what is happening deep down. Brussels wants to avoid having referenda in other states at all costs. As a result, I expect the Commission’s position to soften. How long it will take is unpredictable. However, the adjustments could gather momentum even at the upcoming European Council meeting.
What do you mean under ’softening’?
We hear the concept of flexible solidarity more and more. This could be one stream of change, something that the Commission could accept, too. At the same time, it is good to know, that the European Parliament is taking an opposite path. The leftists, greens and liberals would make the present compulsory relocation plans stricter.
Last time it was only a matter of a few votes that the so-called ’Hungarian-issue’ was not put on the agenda of the plenary; and Hungary was not pilloried because it dared to ask for the opinion of its citizens on migration. The European left wing in the EP still argue for the advantages of migration, believing in an ideology – in my opinion a failed ideology – of multiculturalism and continue to do so. They regard us as public enemy number one. Hence, out of the three institutions, achieving change will be the most difficult here.
What would it mean, if they made current positions regarding migration stricter?
During the last debate, representatives of the left wing suggested accelerating the obligatory relocations and increasing the number of people to be distributed.
What are the responses to the fact that the effectiveness of the obligatory quota has already been revealed. Migrants do not want to stay in Romania or Bulgaria.
It is clear that common sense clashes with the ideological approach. In Brussels, there is a tradition of the latter. Common sense-based thinking seems to be wiped out. Nevertheless, the migration crisis is of utmost importance. After the terrorist acts in Paris, Brussels, Nizza and Germany people are less likely to accept the ideology-driven blah-blah. European voters are more and more adamantly demanding answers for their questions regarding migration. Hence, the growing receptivity to Hungary’s down to earth approach.
How effective is the referendum, as a tool according to EPP representatives?
3.3 million votes and the 98% supportive outcome is convincing and to be respected. Those representatives who understand the unsustainability of the present migration policy do hope that the outcome of the Hungarian referendum will pave the way to the demise of the quota system. But most of them estimate this to be a long fight.
You have mentioned, that referenda could take place in other countries as well. Which countries might these be?
In the past years, political correctness has straight-jacketed European debates on issues of real importance. Brussels’ attacks on the Hungarian Fundamental Law provide a fine example. Instead of debating the merits of our thoughts on the role of families, for example, and what we have laid down in our constitution regarding that, they have immediately pronounced our opinion as politically incorrect and turned their fire on us.
However, the debate on migration is different. This crisis shakes the whole continent, it cannot be swept under the carpet just like that. The migration crisis opens up new discussions, which define the future of the EU. The question of national sovereignty, for example. It is hard to say, which of these questions will lead to referenda in which states, but one thing is certain: It is impossible to imagine Europe’s reset if voters are denied participation in the debates.
Is the chance of an idea of a general European reform until 2019 realistic, given the present?
If the leaders of the Union are to regain the lost trust of the European citizens, they should not refrain from any type of reform. The reform has to come from the member states, not Brussels, however. Time’s running out, because Europe keeps tottering from one crisis to the other.
Do you think that the British will really leave the EU eventually?
Can the Brexit bring about a change of thought in the Union?
I am rather pessimistic in the short run because I believe with the British we have lost a partner that was able to practically approach issues, like migration. In turn, Brussels didn’t draw the appropriate conclusions from Brexit. They put all the responsibility on the British, self-criticism doesn’t come to play. We see affronted statements from the President of the Commission, as well, who took it as an almost personal insult.
However, the lesson of Brexit is clear: the European elite may have contempt for the public will, sooner or later they have to face the opinion of the voters. If it is not possible to hold a referendum on migration, people will decide about migration through another election or referendum, regardless of what’s printed on the ballot-paper. This is best illustrated in the German local elections.
Does Viktor Orbán’s meeting with Geert WIlders, leader of dutch Party of Freedom, imply that Fidesz is going to represent ’Europe of nations’ in an ever stronger manner?
Fidesz has always promoted a Europe of nations and opposed the federalist concept of a United States of Europe. The current crisis reassures us that the solution for the Union’s weakened legitimacy lies in national identities. It is impossible to build a strong Europe against member states and national identities. A strong Europe is in our interest as Hungarians and we shall cooperate with everyone who shares this view.
What will be the main topics in the Hungarian EPP faction apart from migration?
The parliamentary debates of the upcoming years will be about sovereignty. Whatever policy issue is raised, in reality these will be debates of sovereignty. The Commission tries to swallow newer and newer territories with a type of sneaking legislation. This applies to all policy fields, but lacks any form of democratic legitimacy. However, in the present crisis, the overly repeated mantra, according to which more Europe is needed, won’t work anymore.
Now we don’t need more but better Europe. In order to achieve this, the foundation on which the European Communities were once built by the Christian Democrat founding fathers have to be reconstructed, first and foremost. Because today’s community, struggling with value- and identity crisis has no basis when asking citizens to make sacrifices. Europe’s reconstruction has to be started from the foundations, otherwise the whole project will be doomed to failure.