Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister, threw another spanner in the EU’s push to settle migrants across the member states. Prime Minister Orban announced to hold a referendum on whether Hungary should be forced to take in more migrants, dealing another blow to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plans to ease pressure off German in the wake of unchecked mass migration.

In September 2015, Prime Minister Orban became the first European leader to seriously challenge Brussel’s open border policy when he ordered to build a fence along Hungary’s border with Serbia to stop the migrant influx. Many European leaders and mainstream media slammed Hungary for taking–what they called– “egoist” measures.

At that time, Martin Schulz, German politician and President of the EU Parliament, called the step taken by Hungarian government “irrational” and driven by “national egoism.” Since then other EU members such as Austria, Macedonian and Slovenian have started working on their border fences.

Whichever side one may take in the Europe’s migrant debate, one must acknowledge the intellectual consistency of Prime Minister Orban’s position. While other European leaders are flip-flopping on the issue due to shifting public opinion against mass migration, Orban has been steadfast in his opposition towards EU’s open border policy. London-based Financial Times reports:

[Hungary’s Prime Minister] Orban claimed Brussels’ refugee plan was an attempt to redraw Hungary’s cultural, religious and ethnic landscape and said the EU had no right to impose a German-led EU scheme to share the burden of hosting asylum seekers.

“Introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the support of the people is an abuse of power,” he told reporters in Budapest on Wednesday, arguing only Hungarian MPs could approve such a plan.

“No one but us, the elected representatives of the Hungarian parliament, can make this decision.”

Mr Orban’s gambit further complicates an EU’s response to the refugee crisis that has fallen into confusion in the past week as member states opt for unilateral — and often contradictory — policies. Meanwhile, Brussels and Berlin, which have driven the bloc’s migration policy, have seen their control diminish in recent weeks.

As far as Orban is concerned, the migrant crisis is not a Hungarian problem or even a European problem, to use his words; “it’s German problem.” It was Merkel who kicked off the stampeded into Europe with her decision to suspend the EU border regulations (Dublin Agreement). As far as Orban is concerned; if Germany wants to win some bizarre ‘Miss Congeniality’ contest in the Arab and Muslim world with these gestures of generosity, let Germany pick up the tab too. Hungary isn’t going to be part of it.

Merkel on the other hand is desperate to strike a deal now to redistribute recent migrants to other EU states. Merkel’s political future is at stake as 3 German states head for elections amid dismal forecasts for her party, the Christian Democrats.

Sold by Merkel and Brussels’ Eurocrats as a move to shelter refugees fleeing War Zones, it soon turned into a gold rush for economic migrants from Middle East and North Africa. Unlike the real Gold Rush where pioneers toiled to uncover the nature’s hidden wealth at great personal peril, today’s migrants coming to Europe — mostly able-bodied men — will be living at the expense of the European welfare state.

European Union’s unwillingness to secure borders or regulate migrant inflow is not a matter of logistical limitations, it is an ideological position. It is a political project designed to knock down national boundaries, repeal constitutions and override elected governments. It treats the assertion of national identity within Europe with deep contempt.

With British referendum just four months away and Brexit looking like a real possibility, Hungary’s new move strains the troubled EU even further.

EuroNews report: Hungary to hold referendum on EU migrant quotas

[Cover image courtesy Phoenix TV, YouTube screenshot]

[Writer is a Indian journalist based near Cologne, Germany]