Hungary can hold migrant referendum -- EU

  • 25/02/2016

Hungary has the right to organise a referendum on migrant quotas, says Klaas Dijkhoff, migration minister for the Netherlands, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

"Every country has the right to organise referenda. It seems to be quite popular these days on European issues," Dijkhoff told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (local time) ahead of a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers.

Budapest on Wednesday announced a referendum on the EU's plan to introduce mandatory quotas on migrants, part of its efforts to curb an influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.

"I don't think there is a prohibition on referenda in European law," Dijkhoff said.

"First of all, we have to see if there is a referendum, what the question will be, what the result will be and, then, what the government will take back to the European table."

The EU's top migration official said on arrival at the meeting that Europe was at a "critical moment".

"Lone initiatives do not lead anywhere. Right now, the unity of the union and human lives are at stake," Migration Commissioner Dimitirs Avramopoulos said.

"There are only 10 days left till the 7th of March."

March 7 is when the EU holds a summit with Turkey, which it is pressing to stem an influx in which more than a million refugees came to Europe last year.