Orban has opposed EU migrant policies since the onset of the refugee crisis in 2015 | Credit: Picture Alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe
Orban has opposed EU migrant policies since the onset of the refugee crisis in 2015 | Credit: Picture Alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has criticized the European Union of wanting to take away Hungary's control of its own frontiers. The accusations come after the EU shared plans to expand its external border agency, Frontex.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced he would oppose plans to boost the European Union's external borders. Orban said that fresh plans to strengthen the EU's border defenses would "strip Hungary of its right to protect its own borders."

"We will not give up our right to defend a border, no-one can take an iota of that away from us," Orban said during a speech in parliament in Budapest, adding that his country "understand(s) border defense better than anyone in Brussels or an international organization."

The European Commission unveiled a proposal to significantly hike staff numbers at the EU's border-guard and coastguard agency, Frontex, in July. The Warsaw-based agency currently has 600 staff; an additional 10,000 agents would be deployed at EU borders from 2020 under the plan, able to patrol and intervene as needed - especially amid periods of migrant influx.

Orban said he would oppose the plan at an informal meeting of EU heads of state in Salzburg, Austria, later this week. 

In a statement, the European Commission's representative office in Budapest denied Orban's accusations:

"The EU does not want to take over border defense from member states, but rather help them to protect the external borders."

European border patrol agency Frontex

Orban attacks Merkel

Orban earlier described the EU plan as a "pro-immigration" effort pushed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which he believes is designed to remove border control from peripheral countries and give "the keys to the gate" to Brussels. Merkel had said in a speech that EU countries have to share the burden of migration in a show of solidarity.

"They will send mercenaries here from Brussels, from where they will be told how the Hungarian border should be protected," Orban said on state radio earlier in September.

"We should be under no illusions: if they control Hungarian border defenses, they will let in the migrants," he said.

Victor Orban and Angela Merkel have differing views on the EU's migration policies

EU takes action against Hungary

Hungary's standing in the EU appears to be weak at the moment after Orban's government suffered a setback last week when the European Parliament voted to launch a sanctions procedure against Hungary over rule-of-law concerns. Among other things, the EU has said accused Budapest of abusing migrants during deportation procedures. 

Orban said that the vote in Strasbourg was a bid to weaken Hungary which in his views has become a "symbol of resistance against migration".

Hungary announced it would file a case at the European Court of Justice on procedural grounds: the vote against Hungary did not include abstentions in the calculation of the two-thirds majority necessary for its adoption, which according to the Hungarian prime minister broke EU rules according to Budapest.

 

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