EU says puzzled by Hungarian migrant referendum

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 25, 2016 6:46 AM

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Hungary's plan to hold a referendum on EU proposals to transfer asylum seekers around the bloc may be at odds with an agreed strategy to handle the refugee crisis, the European Commission said on Thursday.

"We fail to understand how it would fit into the decision-making process which was agreed to by all member states, including Hungary, under the EU treaties," a spokeswoman for the EU executive told a news briefing.

She declined further comment, saying the Commission was waiting for clarifications from Budapest on the proposal made by Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He set no date for a vote and gave no detail of what the question would be.

EU governments agreed by majority vote in September, despite opposition from Hungary and other eastern states, to set up a two-year scheme to take 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece, Italy and Hungary, according to obligatory national quotas. However, Orban has refused to take part in the scheme.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)