Commenting on proceedings against Hungary at the European Court of Justice concerning migrant quotas, Gergely Gulyás, the PM’s office chief, said Hungary believed that the Lisbon Treaty did not allow for the distribution of migrants based on quotas. He insisted that the EU was applying double standards, arguing that only one member state had implemented the quota scheme, yet not every member state had been taken to court. Hungary believes that in order to successfully handle the migration issue, the European Commission should be stripped of its capacity to manage it, and it should be handled instead by a council of the bloc’s interior ministers, he said.
Meanwhile, Gulyás said the first meeting with the body of “wise men” set up by the European People’s Party to monitor the situation in Hungary was expected to be held after the European Parliament elections. Under Fidesz’s agreement with the EPP, “everyone’s interests lie in settling the issue after the EP elections,” he said. In order to resolve the dispute between Fidesz and the EPP, it was important to wait and see what direction the centre-right grouping would take after the election, he added. No one from the EPP had reached out to opposition nationalist Jobbik, he said, ruling out the possibility of Jobbik joining Fidesz in the EPP, arguing that Jobbik was considered a “far-right, anti-Semitic party” in Brussels.
On the topic of the debate between the candidates for European Commission president, Gulyás said he knew few politicians in Europe who were more populist than Frans Timmermans, the spitzenkandidat of the European Socialists. He said Fidesz would comply with EPP top candidate Manfred Weber’s comment saying that “he does not require our support”. Gulyás noted that one of the biggest points of criticism against the spitzenkandidat system five years ago was that it overrides the Lisbon Treaty, which he said was “unacceptable”. Gulyás said the spitzenkandidat system stripped the European Council of a right it was entitled to under EU law. In response to a question, he said that if Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, were to be recommended to head the commission, the Hungarian government would come to a standpoint on the possibility. “We have a positive opinion of him,” Gulyás said of Barnier, adding, at the same time, that the government had not yet had to consider his candidacy since he has not been nominated.
As regards Ukrainian outgoing president Petro Poroshenko signing the language bill into law, Gulyás said Hungary would uphold its veto of Ukraine’s talks to join NATO. He said that hopefully the incoming Ukrainian president would have a different approach to ethnic minorities.
In response to another question, he said a “propaganda video” put together by Germany’s public broadcaster on Hungary’s family support scheme contained false claims such as that the subsidies would only be made available to Christian families. Gulyás said German public media was a “left-liberal propaganda tool”.