A new European Commission is needed with a new approach to the migration policy, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday, adding that the days of the current EU executive were "counted" with its mandate expiring next year.
Orban said the new Commission should not punish those countries protecting their borders from migrants. "We need a new Commission... with a new approach," Orban told state radio. European Parliamentary elections will be held in May 2019.
Right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, re-elected for a third consecutive term in April, has been one of the strongest opponents to the European Union's migration policy since his government fenced off Hungary's southern borders in 2015 to keep out migrants. Orban has been tough on German Chancellor Angela Merkel since her September 2015 decision to open her country's borders to migrants, many of whom were stranded in Hungary. Merkel has repeatedly criticized Hungary's government for its unwillingness to comply with an EU-wide quota scheme to distribute migrants across the bloc.
The Hungarian government, which with Poland and the Czech Republic has run foul of the EU by taking tougher stands against the admission of asylum-seekers, has struck a chord with its voters by arguing that illegal immigration threatens to undermine European stability.
The European Commission earlier this month stepped up a legal battle with Hungary over EU migration rules, declaring illegal a new Hungarian law that criminalizes support for asylum seekers. It referred Hungary to the EU Court of Justice "for non-compliance of its asylum and return legislation with EU law." Orban said the Commission's decision was insignificant as its mandate was running out soon.
He said the current decisions and proposals of the Commission were like "the last movements of frogs' legs in biological experiments which we saw when we were at school, which no longer had significance." "We need a Commission after the European elections which does not punish those countries that protect their borders like Hungary," he added. He said the EU executive should instead punish those who let millions of migrants into Europe in violation of the existing rules of the EU. He did not name any member states.
Last year, Orban called on European countries to defend "Christian and free" Europe, arguing that millions of migrants threaten Europe's cultural identity. During his speech at the 61st anniversary of Hungary's 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, he reiterated his criticism of the European Union's leadership and his belief that Europe's external borders must be protected. He also blamed a "speculative financial empire" for the "invasion" of migrants to Europe since 2015, an apparent reference to Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros. He has often described Muslim migrants as invaders who threaten Europe's cultural identity.