Interview with Manfred Weber

The Starting Point is Border Control

”We have to guarantee that those who arrive in Europe are real refugees, not illegal migrants”, the group leader of the European People’s Party, Manfred Weber emphasised to Magyar Hírlap. According to the Bavarian CSU’s politician, border control is the first step and after that everybody has to contribute.


There are two main approaches of handling the migration crisis in Europe: one is focusing on border control and stopping migration, while the other is the open doors policy of welcoming them. Which one is closer to your party?

The most important things is that we should reflect what people think, and a lot of people are scared. Especially because of last year, when hundred thousands walked through Europe without control, security, identity checks and this created fear. That was the starting point on the huge debate on migration and it’s extremely important for politicians to recognize that people are afraid of this development, that’s why we have to give a proper answer. The starting point is border protection. Last year I met Viktor Orbán in Budapest when he was starting to build up the fence to strengthen the controls on the border with Serbia, to show that yes, border control is important.

Is there enough will in the European institutions for a substantial border protection? It seems that there are more words than actions.

The will is there, the European Commission proposed a lot of legislative changes to strengthen the executive capacity of the European Border and Coast guard agency (Frontex) to do their job. But there’s the sovereignty of the member states for which Hungary is also fighting. Greece is not allowing us to do what is needed at the border, we have limited possibilities. My party, on the European level is in favour of strengthening our European capacity to do this. If Greece fails to protect the external border, then Frontex must go there and do the job. Everybody in Europe, in Cologne, Paris, Madrid, Budapest – everybody expects that our Schengen border is well-protected and if for example Hungary can do this on its own, then it is fine, and if not, then Europe has to intervene and implement the current rules. Efficient border control is the precondition of any further discussion on refugee measures.


There is strong opposition in Europe against the automatic relocation scheme. Can there be a dialogue about alternative ways of member states to engage in solidarity, or the quota remains non-negotiable?

Before we start internal solidarity the precondition is strict border control. We have to guarantee that those who arrive in Europe are real refugees, not illegal migrants. The next step is that if we have hotspots in Lampedusa or Lesbos. To a real refugee from for example Aleppo, who is fleeing bombs with children, Europe cannot say “I don’t care”. That can’t be the answer, also because of the Christian identity of our continent. So the second part is that we should contribute. We should invest in third countries, neighbourhoods of conflict zones, Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon and we have to ensure the money is well spent. If refugees are coming to Europe we have to find a way that everybody contributes to the burden they create. When we talk about real refugees, there is a responsibility. For me and the EPP group the model of flexible solidarity presented by the V4 countries is a good step towards successful negotiations. We have to find a middle way, but everybody has to contribute.


The upper limit of accepting refugees is a crucial point. Your party says yes, Merkel says no – where is here room for a compromise?

Our party sticks to the upper limit approach, because there is obviously for every country a maximum capacity to accept refugees. There is still a debate. We asked CDU to move on this field.



Read the whole interview in English or in Hungarian on Magyar Hírlap Online!


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