By Oliver JJ Lane
The European Union is threatening Hungary with massive fines and court action if it does not change direction over the acceptance of the EU forced migrant relocation scheme, and a number of other areas the Commission has deemed unsatisfactory.
The latest infringement procedures — the escalating response of the European Commission against member states who fail to fall into line — deals with the treatment of Roma gypsy children in Hungary’s schools, and farming laws.
Although farming may seem like an odd flashpoint for a nation which has shot to prominence for their no-nonsense approach to the migrant crisis, the government’s reforms aimed at preventing foreigners from buying up vast swathes of farmland have been front page news in the country for months. The Commission contends by restricting ownership of farmland to the people who actually farm it, the Hungarian government is being discriminatory toward the citizens of other EU countries.
The Hungarian government on the other hand is working to keep land affordable for Hungarians by keeping out big-money foreign buyers.
The Commission has also sent a formal letter to Budapest over Hungary’s educational approach to Roma gypsy children, who it claims are routinely placed in separate ‘special needs’ classes, a process it claims is segregation. Hungarian government minister János Lázár has called the accusations “absurd”, reports HungaryToday, given that the Hungarian government doesn’t even keep records of the origins of children.
“I have no idea how the European Commission knows which child is Roma and which child is not”, he said.
These issues are not the first areas in which the European Commission has picked a fight with Hungary. Prime Minister Victor Orban declared “war against Brussels” last month over the mandatory relocation of migrants across the European Union, calling a referendum in his own country over the initiative, and seeking allies in eastern Europe to back him up against the continental power-bloc.
A new poll this week showed the majority of Hungarians — 77 per cent — backed their government on rejecting mass migration to the nation, but that is likely to do little to calm the European Commission. It was reported earlier this month that the bloc intended to fine Hungary and other European nations €250,000 per migrant they refused to take from the mandatory quota. The European Union intends to redistribute at least 160,000 people.