Janos Boka – Photo: Facebook

Boka: EU position on migration has started shifting towards Hungary’s

The European Union's position on migration has started to shift in many aspects to the position Hungary has represented for a decade now, EU Affairs Minister Janos Boka told the state secretary for international communication and relations in a podcast on Thursday.

Talking to Zoltan Kovacs on his latest “The Bold Truth about Hungary” podcast, Boka said the EU’s focus was now more on the protection of the external borders and on managing the root causes of migration.

“I’m not saying that we are there yet, and I see very important political discussions and maybe political struggles ahead,” Boka said. “I think what is not happening yet is the understanding that if it is not the European Union or its member states who decide who can enter the territory of the European Union, then we don’t have a migration policy.” He argued that migration policy started with the basic assumption that the EU is the one to decide who can enter its territory.

“This is something that we exactly do on behalf of the European Union in the interest of the European Union as a whole, and we should receive the adequate financial and technical assistance in doing that and not procedures at the European Court of Justice that prevent us from effectively protecting the external borders,” the minister said.

He said setting migration policy from a moral perspective led to conflating asylum policy with migration policy, labour policy with migration policy and border protection with the reception of asylum-seekers. “All these things get confused because morality has a tendency to mix issues of different nature together and adopt a uniform approach, which is not suitable for effective policy-making and implementation,” Boka said.

He said one solution — as the Hungarian government had been saying long ago — was for the EU to let member states address issues it is unable to manage effectively. Another, Boka added, was for EU institutions to pay more attention to the proposals and experiences of member states that have been protecting the bloc’s external borders for quite a while and which are clear on how the EU could make their job easier and make border protection more effective.

“I think the solutions are on the table,” Boka said. “It’s not that difficult to see; political ownership and political commitment is needed.”

Put to him that Ukraine’s EU accession and support for Ukraine was being connected with the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework, Boka said this went against the spirit of the treaties.

He said enlargement had become a “geopolitical project” since the start of the war in Ukraine, which was not a merit-based process based on the fulfilment of objective criteria.

Asked if Hungary could reach an agreement with the European Commission and access EU funds it is owed, the minister said he believed an agreement should be reached and that he hoped it would be.

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