Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on September 22 to discuss immigration policy and propose workers’ rights rule changes in the EU. They discussed how to deal with pressure from the European Commission over resettlement of refugees, as they prepare to accept 211,000 pound fines for each migrant they refuse entry. Both leaders’ parties take firm stances against refugee redistribution and are part of an increasingly united front against refugees. Recent polling indicates that in the Visegrad Four (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia), 81 percent of the population is dissatisfied with EU policy. Both Orban and Szydlo show no sign of wavering on this issue.
In the last two years, both Poland and Hungary have been accused of breaking their commitment to the European Union refugee settlement policy. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has increasingly expressed his frustration that Hungary and Poland have admitted few, if any, refugees in the last couple of years. For example, in 2013 Poland only admitted 208 people with refugee status, while France accepted 55,100 refugees in 2012. The EU opened sanctions procedures on Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic on June 13.
On October 29, Orban stated that the protests against the resettling of refugees in Öcsény, a small village in southern Hungary, were perfectly understandable. As he spoke to reporters, he said that because the citizens “have been told so many lies in connection with migration” it was obvious that they would protest. In addition, he said, “[Hungarians] do not want to accept migrants into their country or t
heir village.” While he repeated that Hungarians would be more than willing to help children, he said that “taking in parents and extended family was unacceptable to Hungarians”.
Poland, while still hostile to refugees, remains more committed to the vision of a united Europe. On October 30, Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke at the University of Europe, stating, “Not all of Central and Eastern Europe has become part of the European community.” This was a reflection of his view that “the shadow of the Cold War-era division of Europe has been overcome in the consciousness and sensitivity of European societies.”