Hungary has called for a national referendum on the European Union's plans for a mandatory quota for migrant and refugee resettlement. Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced on 24 February that the referendum question has already been submitted to the National Election Office.
Orban said at a press conference: "The government is responding to public sentiment now. We think that introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the backing of the people equals an abuse of power."
Orban said that those who voted against the EU plans would be voting "in favour of Hungary's independence and rejecting the mandatory quota plan", reported AP. It is not clear when the referendum will be taking place. It is believed that the referendum question would be: "Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of Parliament?"
The Prime Minister's announcement comes one day after the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, Laszlo Kover, said that the supporting immigration would "dissolve" European civilisation, national culture and Christianity. Hungary Today reported that Kover thought the EU migrant quota system was "not a solution but a precedent" towards the creation of a United States of Europe.
Under the EU proposals, migrants would be moved from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other EU countries. However, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary were all opposed to the plans to relocate 120,000 migrants in the European continent. Hungary was also expected to take its share under the scheme. The EU said that countries who did not agree with the policy would have the right to appeal to the European Council.
The EU migrant quota would prioritise Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis, with relocation to countries being dependent on the size of the economy and the population. The EU said that a financial penalty of 0.002% of the country's GDP would be imposed for those member countries that refuse to accept relocated migrants.
In September 2015 Hungary caused controversy when they built a 4m (13ft) fence along their border with Serbia to stop the influx of migrants into the country. While the number of people crossing the border from Serbia did initially drop after the construction of the barrier, Hungary police reported that 550 people were caught getting through in January. The number was an increase from the 270 people who were caught in December 2015, the BBC reported.