Posts Tagged ‘migrants’

EU panic over Italian populism only exacerbates tension

May 22, 2018

Italy’s populist government did not just fall from the sky — it was elected. And the incoming leaders could prove to be an explosive force for the European Union. DW’s Bernd Riegert asks: What’s next?

By Bernd Riegert
Commentary

    
Italy flag with a question mark (imago/R. Peters)

Italians fundamentally distrust their politicians, to whom many disparagingly refer as “the caste.” It’s a familiar story: Italy’s politicians rarely fulfill the promises they make during election campaigns. Once they are in power, it’s often about what’s doing best for themselves. Those have long been the iron laws of political life in Italy. Now, populists from the left and far right are set to take power.

They are promising historic change, a revolution, to address the concerns of their citizens. Are Italy’s iron laws of politics about to be rewritten? Or will this new, inexperienced, but deeply self-confident coalition soon forget the ambitious and somewhat dangerous goals of their governing agreement and instead focus on preserving their own power?

It might sound like a strange thing to say, but it would be in the interests of Italy and the European Union if the same old mechanisms maintain their grip on politics — and if the nationalist revolution fails.

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Giuseppe Conte

The puppet prime minister?

The no-name man tapped to be prime minister, 54-year-old law professor Giuseppe Conte, will hopefully manage to blunt the populists’ most radical ideas. If he cannot find compromises between the extremes within his coalition, he could very well soon face replacement.

Riegert Bernd

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Bernd Riegert is DW’s correspondent in Brussels

The leaders of the two parties making up the coalition — Luigi Di Maio of the protest Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini of the nationalist League — have made big promises to their respective bases: Lower taxes, improved social benefits, earlier retirement, a more favorable relationship with the EU, economic growth and less bureaucracy. The strong-headed Di Maio and Salvini are likely to try and use Conte as a puppet for their own populist power games.

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Hollow phrases no substitute for policy

“Italy first” is the hollow rallying cry for the new leaders in Rome. That stance has left officials from the EU shuddering. They have argued that if every nation tries to go its own way, that does not leave much room for solidary among citizens in the bloc. “Nobody needs to fear us,” The League’s Salvini has said. But we should fear them. Brussels is allowed to be concerned, because the populists set to take over the EU’s third-largest economy could rattle the euro zone with irresponsible financial policies.

Read moreItaly: The populist odd couple preparing for government

“Italy is not Greece,” the new coalition in Rome has said. That’s true. Italy is a founding EU nation and much larger than Greece, but it also has massive amounts of debt. To bail out an economy as large as Italy’s in a way that is similar to what happened in Greece would be practically impossible.

The populists made out the euro currency, and its German fiscal guardians, to be the source of all evil during their campaign. It cannot be ruled out that they are actively trying to damage the economy in an effort to destroy the euro. Italy could introduce its own currency overnight and leave the eurozone.

The financial markets are simply ignoring the populists. The European Central Bank (ECB), with its flood of capital, is helping to keep Italy and other struggling countries afloat. It begs the question: How much longer can that last? If the ECB raised interest rates, it could quickly get ugly for Italy, to say the least.

Panic won’t help

When it comes to immigration and asylum policy, the nationlist League threatens to torpedo all of Brussels’ decisions. A sensible system of distributing migrants throughout the EU seems now like a distant dream. Close the borders and kick the foreigners out — that’s about all The League seems to have in the way of proposals.

The vow of its leader Salvini rings hollow: Italy will change, and it will try to change the EU with it. How far can or should we go when it comes to seeking compromise with these new radicals?

Nonetheless, the EU should not be nervous. Heated or panicked attacks, like those from France’s finance minister over the weekend, will have the opposite of their intended effect. Italy does not respond happily to criticism from abroad — and that doesn’t just go for the populists. This, too, is one of the iron laws of Italian politics.

http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-eu-panic-over-italian-populism-only-exacerbates-tension/a-43872124

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Lawyer Giuseppe Conte tipped to be Italy’s new populist PM

May 21, 2018

A largely unknown lawyer and law professor, far removed from the cut-throat world of Italian politics, Giuseppe Conte is the favourite to lead the country’s nascent populist government.

Luigi Di Maio, head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, and far-right league leader Matteo Salvini are to present their choice for prime minister in separate meetings with President Sergio Mattarella beginning at 1530 GMT.

© AFP/File | Leader of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement Luigi Di Maio had named Giuseppe Conte, seen on the right, as one of his ministers in March, with the press speculating he will be named prime minister

AFP

Mattarella has to agree on a prime minister with the parties before they can seek approval for their new government in parliament.

The pair have remained tight-lipped over their pick, but ahead of Monday’s crucial meeting, the Italian media have gambled on 54-year-old Conte.

Born in 1964 in the tiny village of Volturara Appula in the southern region of Puglia, Conte has had an impressive career in law and academia.

Di Maio had presented Conte as part of his team of ministers ahead of the March 4 general election, putting him charge of simplifying the country’s infamous bureaucracy.

That was the general public’s first and so far only encounter with Conte, who was subsequently invisible in the government talks that followed the inconclusive election, which later saw Five Star and the League striking a coalition government deal.

Conte’s CV includes study and research positions at some of the world’s most prestigious universities, including Cambridge University, the Sorbonne and New York University.

He runs a law studio in Rome, and currently teaches private law courses in Florence and at Luiss University in the capital.

He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Italian Space Agency, a legal consultant to the Rome Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the supervisory board of a number of insurance companies in bankruptcy proceedings.

 

Italy’s populist parties to name future premier pick

May 21, 2018

 Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League party prepared Monday to present their pick for future premier of the country’s new populist government to end more than two months of deadlock after inconclusive elections.

© AFP/File / by Catherine MARCIANO | Anti-establishment M5S leader Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League, will meet the president on Monday evening

They are due to meet President Sergio Matterella at the presidential palace on Monday evening to formally present their choice.

After a week of haggling, M5S leader Luigi Di Maio and League leader Matteo Salvini closed a coalition deal and announced a joint programme which turns its back on austerity measures.

Both Di Maio and Salvini dreamed of running the first anti-establishment government within a EU-founding nation, but a clash of egos and lack of majority in parliament forced them to opt for a third candidate.

Media reports say the pair will, however, lay claim to their top ministerial picks: Interior minister for the nationalist Salvini and Minister of economic development for Di Maio.

“We have agreed on the leader and ministers of government and we hope that no one will veto a choice that represents the will of the majority of Italians,” Salvini said Sunday.

Rumours are also swirling around the nomination for premier with the media betting on a handful of candidates.

Giuseppe Conte, 54, a lawyer who teaches law in Florence and Rome is among the rumoured top picks. Though little known in Italy, he has an impressive CV with teaching stints at Yale, Cambridge and Sorbonne.

Andrea Roventini, a 41-year-old economist teaching at the university of Pisa has also been touted as another contender as well as Paolo Savona, 81.

Minister for industry between 1993-94, Savona was staunchly opposed to the signing of the Maastricht Treaty which, in the M5S-League programme, is cited as the moment the EU went off track.

– Berlusconi upset –

Never afraid of a long shot, former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who is upset with his right-wing ally Salvini, has also offered himself up as future premier.

Following a recent court ruling, the ageing billionaire is once again legally allowed to hold public office and has expressed his discontent with the coalition programme, especially the strict measures against conflict of interests in parliament which he sees as directly targeting his media empire.

“Salvini never spoke on behalf of the right-wing coalition, but only on his own behalf and on behalf of the League,” he said on Friday evening.

Berlusconi said his Forza Italia party would present a “reasonable and scrutinising opposition” to the new government and suggested he could run the government if Salvini decided to ditch M5S.

Mattarella must agree to the parties’ nominee before they can seek parliament’s approval for their nascent government.

The president will also examine the new M5S-League joint programme, overwhelmingly approved over the weekend in a public non-binding vote.

The 58-page programme does not mention a unilateral exit from the eurozone unlike previous versions leaked to the media but it rejects post-financial crisis austerity policies and features hardline immigration and security proposals.

The document’s costly financial measures and eurosceptic tone have got the financial markets worried.

The Milan Stock Exchange opened down by nearly two percent Monday, while the spread — the difference between the Italian and German 10-year borrowing rates — has gained 40 points in less than a week, increasing to 170 points.

by Catherine MARCIANO
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Italy: Law professor Giuseppe Conte likely to become new Prime Minister

May 21, 2018

Media tip law professor Giuseppe Conte ahead of announcement on Monday

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Giuseppe Conte is the favourite to become Italy’s prime minister, according to Corriere della Sera

James Politi in Rome

Giuseppe Conte, a little-known 54-year-old professor who specialises in public administration law and has hardly any political experience, has emerged as the frontrunner to be prime minister for Italy’s nascent populist government, according to Italian media.

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, and Matteo Salvini, the head of the far-right League, were due to meet the Italian president, on Monday to secure his approval for their alliance to govern the eurozone’s third- largest economy.

After sealing a deal on a joint platform to run the country — rife with measures that have unsettled EU policymakers and investors in Italian securities — Mr Di Maio and Mr Salvini spent the weekend trying to find a compromise choice to implement their plan.

According to Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading newspaper, Mr Conte — a law professor at the University of Florence and Luiss University in Rome who is originally from Puglia in southern Italy — had emerged as the top choice. Mr Di Maio and Mr Salvini have not confirmed the choice of Mr Conte, and people close to the negotiations cautioned that only the two leaders “know the name”.

President Sergio Mattarella, who has the final word on the choice of prime minister, could choose to rebuff Mr Conte’s candidacy if he believes his profile is too low to represent Italy on the international stage and to hold the government together at home. On Sunday, though, Mr Salvini issued a thinly veiled warning to Mr Mattarella not to stand in the way.

“We hope no one will place vetoes on this person’s name or surname. We won’t accept it,” Mr Salvini said. “It won’t be me, nor Di Maio. It will be a balanced name that satisfies us both,” he said.

Other names for prime minister that were floated in the Italian press in recent days include Andrea Roventini and Paolo Savona, two economists.

On Monday, as the formation of the government drew nearer there was no relief for Italian sovereign debt. A brisk sell-off in Italy’s bonds, known as BTPs, sent the yield on benchmark 10-year paper up 4.2 basis points at 2.259 per cent and back to levels last touched in October and last exceeded in the summer of 2017. At the start of last week before the coalition proposals were published, the yield stood at 1.894 per cent.

Mr Di Maio, who led Five Star to win 33 per cent of the vote in Italy’s general election in March, has long held out hope that he would become prime minister, but has always been blocked by resistance from Mr Salvini. But Mr Di Maio is still expected to be part of the government, as minister of labour and economic development, allowing him to oversee the disbursement of a €780 per person basic income to the poor, which is Five Star’s signature policy.

Meanwhile, Mr Salvini is set to become interior minister, which would put him in charge of a crackdown on immigration — including plans to deport up to 500,000 illegal immigrants — which was central to his campaign.

Giampiero Massolo, the chairman of Fincantieri, the state-owned shipbuilding company, and a veteran diplomat, is expected to be foreign minister in the new government, while the post of finance minister is still very much up for discussion, with Giancarlo Giorgetti, a key aide to Mr Salvini, seen to be in pole position.

If Mr Mattarella approves the choice of prime minister on Monday, a succession of ministers could swiftly follow. They could be sworn in before the end of the week, replacing the incumbent centre-left administration led by Paolo Gentiloni. The final hurdle for the Five Star-League government would be a vote of confidence in both houses of parliament.

The establishment of a populist government in Rome has already raised alarm bells across EU capitals. Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister issued a blunt warning to Rome on Sunday, saying that Italy needed to respect EU budget rules or the single currency would be in jeopardy.

“Italians must understand that the future of Italy is in Europe and nowhere else, but there are rules to respect,” Mr Le Maire said in an interview on Europe 1 radio. “If the new government takes the risk of not meeting its commitments on the debt, the deficit, but also the clean-up of the banks, it is the entire financial stability of the eurozone which would be threatened,” he added.

His intervention, however, was swiftly rebuffed by Mr Salvini.

“This is another unacceptable pitch invasion,” he wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t ask for votes . . . to continue on a path of poverty, precariousness and immigration: Italians first!”

https://www.ft.com/content/8a89b67a-5cbf-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68

Montenegro may build fence on Albanian border to stop migrants

May 20, 2018

Montenegro, seeing a rise in the number of migrants passing through the country on a new route to the European Union, is considering building a razor wire fence on its border with Albania to stem the flow, a government official said on Sunday.

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa are taking their chance to reach wealthier European countries after smugglers created a new Balkan route running from Greece via Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia to EU member Croatia.

Image result for Montenegro, Albania, map

Bosnia is already coping with thousands of migrants who were stranded after a route via Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia was shut in 2016, when Turkey agreed to stop the flow in return for EU aid and other concessions.

“In the case of a greater influx of migrants, we may raise a razor wire fence on the border with Albania,” Vojislav Dragovic, the head of Montenegro’s department for state border supervision, told state television.

He said Albanian authorities had often refused to accept migrants turned back from Montenegro under their bilateral re-admission agreement.

Many countries on the migrant route have secured their borders with physical barriers. Hungary put up a razor wire fence on its borders with Serbia and Croatia during the crisis in 2015, when more than a million migrants came to Europe.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Mark Potter

Reuters

Italy’s League and 5-Star parties make ‘significant steps’ towards government deal

May 10, 2018

The anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League have made “significant steps” towards forming a government, the two parties said on Thursday as Italy looked to end nine weeks of political deadlock.

© Tiziana Fabi, AFP | This combination of images shows anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio (L) and the leader of the far-right party Lega, Matteo Salvini.

The two groups, who are both hostile to European Union budget restrictions and have made electoral pledges that would cost billions of euros to implement, entered into negotiations on Wednesday just as a swift return to the polls looked inevitable.

“Significant steps forward have been made on the composition of the government and on the (nomination) of a prime minister,” a joint statement said following a meeting between League leader Matteo Salvini and 5-Star chief Luigi Di Maio.

They gave no indication of who might lead the administration or who could take charge of the key ministries.

“I cannot disguise my joy and happiness that we can finally start solving Italy’s problems,” Di Maio told supporters on Facebook. He said he should have more details later in the day.

News that a deal was at hand pushed the spread between Italian benchmark bond yields and the safer German equivalent to their widest level in seven weeks over fears state accounts might take a hit. Italian shares also lost ground.

Italy has been stuck in political limbo since an inconclusive March 4 election that saw a centre-right bloc, including the anti-immigrant League, win the most seats, and the 5-Star emerge the largest single party by far.

5-Star had signalled for weeks it was ready to form a coalition with the League, but not with that party’s electoral ally, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whom it sees as a symbol of political corruption after years of scandals.

Salvini had refused to abandon Berlusconi out of loyalty to the centre-right bloc, but the 81-year-old billionaire businessman finally agreed to step aside voluntarily late Wednesday, removing a major obstacle to an accord.

Even so, a government deal faces various difficulties.

EU conflict

5-Star draws much of its support in the impoverished south while the League’s electoral base is the wealthy north. While 5-Star wants to introduce generous welfare benefits, the League wants to slash taxes.

One of the first things the two parties are likely to agree on will be to scrap a 2011 pension reform which raised the retirement age and required further hikes over time. Economists say repealing the law would cost 20 billion euros ($24 billion) a year, but opponents say it is unfair on ordinary Italians.

Both parties also want to renegotiate the EU’s fiscal rules to allow Italy to spend more. 5-Star has rowed back on a pledge to hold a referendum on Italy’s membership of the euro zone, but the League still calls the euro a “flawed currency” and wants to exit it as soon as is politically feasible.

Setting up a possible institutional clash in Italy, President Sergio Mattarella made clear on Thursday that he did not want to see any confrontation with Brussels.

“To think that one can go-it-alone in Europe is knowingly deceptive in front of public opinion,” Mattarella said in a pointedly pro-European speech at a conference on the state of the European Union in the town of Fiesole.

Referring to the euro, he said: “We have a currency that is capable to being a concrete anchor in international relations, a role that no national currency can perform.”

(REUTERS)

Italian president gives parties more time to form government

May 10, 2018

Italian President Sergio Mattarella will give more time to the League and 5-Star Movement to strike a government pact aimed at ending nine weeks of political stalemate, a source in the president’s office said on Thursday.

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Italian President Sergio Mattarella speaks to the media at the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy, April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The two parties, which are hostile to European Union budget restrictions and have made electoral pledges that would cost billions of euros to implement, asked the head of state on Wednesday for 24 hours to see if they could reach a deal.

A source close to 5-Star told Reuters he believed they might need “a few more days” to find an accord.

Italy has been stuck in political limbo since an inconclusive March 4 election that saw a center-right bloc, including the anti-immigrant League, win the most seats, and the 5-Star emerge as easily the largest single party.

5-Star had signaled for weeks it was ready to form a coalition with the League, but not with its electoral ally, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

After always of refusing to accept such a veto, Berlusconi finally gave way late on Wednesday, saying the League was free to work with 5-Star.

Berlusconi’s retreat removed a major obstacle to an accord but even so, government talks between 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio and the League’s Matteo Salvini will not be simple.

5-Star draws much of its support in the impoverished south while the League’s electoral base is the wealthy north. While 5-Star wants to introduce generous welfare benefits, the League wants to slash taxes.

(Reporting by Massimiliano Di Giorgio and Crispian Balmer; editing by Philip Pullella)

Reuters

Italy makes last-ditch effort to form government

May 7, 2018

Months after inconclusive elections, Italy is still without a government. The left-wing M5S has offered to form a coalition with the League. But the far-right party refuses to ditch its alliance with Silvio Berlusconi.

    
Michelangelo's statue of David in front of an Italian flag

Italian President Sergio Mattarella is set to broker talks on Monday with the country’s main political parties in a last-ditch effort to form a coalition government.

The stakes are high. Since inconclusive elections in March, Italy’s political parties have failed to reach a consensus.

The euroskeptic 5 Star Movement’s (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio on Sunday offered to form a coalition government with the far-right Lega, or League. The party used to be known as Lega Nord, or Northern League.

“If the goal is to put into action an election platform and the obstacle is Luigi Di Maio as premier, then I say let’s choose a prime minister together,” said Di Maio during an interview on Rai state television on Sunday, referring to League leader Matteo Salvini.

Luigi Di MaioM5S’ Luigi Di Maio has refused to form a government with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi

But Di Maio insisted that his party would not form a government with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, which forms part of a right-of-center coalition led by the League.

Read more: Luigi Di Maio: The populist leader eyeing victory in Rome

Although Di Maio’s M5S led the election with 32 percent of the vote, the League-led right-wing coalition managed to secure a combined 37 percent. However, both political forces failed to reach the 40 percent necessary to govern.

‘Fresh general election’

On the other hand, Salvini on Friday offered to form a temporary government with Di Maio, saying its mandate could last to December in order to pass the 2019 budget and prepare fresh elections afterward.

But Salvini has refused to ditch his coalition partner Berlusconi and his Forza Italia. “If the M5S doesn’t agree, then only a fresh general election remains,” Salvini said.

Matteo SalviniMatteo Salvini has argued that he deserves to be prime minister for leading the largest alliance in parliament

Read more: Matteo Salvini: Italy’s far-right success story

According to government sources, President Mattarella is hoping to avoid elections this year. If Monday’s last-ditch effort fails, Mattarella could handpick a prime minister to bring together a consensus government.

No to technocrats

Interim Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of the center-left Democratic Party, which suffered a historic defeat in the March election, is considered one of the candidates.

That option would require support from either M5S or the League. However, both parties have refused to back such a measure, saying they oppose “technocratic” governments.

Read more: Opinion: Italy’s uncertain political future

“If parliament rejects the president’s government, the situation will be very difficult,” said Lina Palmerini, an analyst at business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

From 2011 to 2013, a caretaker government led by Italian economist Mario Monti led the country, but the administration was characterized by austerity and received generally low approval ratings.

ls/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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US cites ‘security crisis’ as illegal border crossings mount — DHS ‘concerned’

May 4, 2018

Illegal crossings on the border with Mexico climbed in April to triple the year-earlier levels, the US Department of Homeland Security said on Friday, warning undocumented immigrants they will be prosecuted.

With the Trump administration concerned that its crackdown on illegal immigration is not working, DHS said 50,924 people were apprehended in April trying to enter the United States illegally from Mexico.

Image result for Tijuana, border wall, photos, may 2018

That was the highest level for April since 2014, an increase of more than 600 people over March, and up from 15,766 people detained a year ago, in a sharp immigration downturn that followed the election of President Donald Trump.

The numbers of unaccompanied children, 4,314, and family units, 9,647, also rose compared with March.

DHS says the level of detentions is a strong indicator of the overall flow of illegal immigration, and a surge in detentions is a sign of a concomitant jump in successful entries by paperless migrants.

The latest numbers “underscore the continuing security crisis along our southwest border,” said DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton.

The increase came as a well-publicized caravan of families and children from violence-plagued central America marched through Mexico during April toward the US border, many saying they would seek asylum.

Media coverage of the US-bound caravan triggered a flurry of furious tweets from Trump, who ordered thousands of National Guard troops to the border and called on Mexico to stop the migrants.

The caravan set out with 1,000 people, but most later dispersed, leaving some to travel on their own.

Mexican officials said on Thursday that 145 had so far entered the United States to seek asylum — a process that can separate parents from their children — while about 150 others remain at a camp in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico.

The US Justice Department said it had arrested and charged 11 members of the caravan for illegally entering the United States.

US authorities are seeking tougher legal powers to prevent and deter illegal immigration.

“To those seeking to abuse our generous laws — we are watching. We will not sit back and watch our laws exploited,” Houlton warned in a statement.

“If you make a false immigration claim, you will be referred for prosecution. If you assist or coach individuals in making false immigration claims, you will be referred for prosecution.”

Trump wants to build a border wall against illegal migrants, and has repeatedly tried to link immigration with crime.

Hungary’s Orban threatens EU budget veto

May 4, 2018

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned Friday that Budapest could veto the European Union’s first post-Brexit multi-year budget plan which proposes linking funds to democratic standards like the rule of law.

© AFP | Prime Minister Viktor Orban, pictured at a news conference last month, warned on Friday that Hungary could veto the EU’s budget that proposes to link funds to democratic standards

The one-trillion-euro-plus ($1.2 trillion) budget proposal covering 2021 to 2027 was unveiled Wednesday by the European Commission after months of difficult consultations with the 27 countries that will remain in the EU after Britain leaves.

“There has to be unanimity, so Hungarians don’t have to be worried,” the fiercely anti-immigration Orban said during a radio interview in Budapest.

“As long as Hungarians don’t give the go-ahead then there will be no budget,” he added.

“I don?t support a European budget that takes from farmers, or research and development, or regional development, and gives it to countries which let in migrants,” said Orban.

Wednesday’s proposal is seen as a way to rein in EU members like Hungary, which Brussels has repeatedly criticised over democratic standards, and Poland which faces unprecedented sanctions over its judicial reforms.

The mechanism would allow the EU to “suspend, reduce or restrict access” to EU funding if “rule of law deficiencies” were found.

In an angry response Thursday Budapest said it would oppose any attempt to impose conditions on the billions in funds it gets from the bloc.

The proposed link meant EU funding could be used to “blackmail” member states using “subjective” criteria, said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

Orban insisted Friday that Hungary’s judicial system and rule of law standards were given a clean bill of health following an investigation by Brussels in 2013.

The 54-year-old was reelected last month for a third consecutive term as premier with a landslide two-thirds parliamentary majority that gives him legislative free rein for the next four years.

Pledging to build an “old-fashioned” type of “Christian democracy rooted in European tradition”, Orban said tough anti-migration bills would be the first to pass through the new parliament which convenes May 8.

A so-called “Stop Soros” legislative package will be aimed at non-governmental organisations (NGOs) backed by Hungarian-born US billionaire George Soros, whom Orban has long accused of facilitating immigration into Europe.

The bills would “bring (Soros’) shadow army into the light,” Orban said.

The package apes similar laws in Russia and would slap taxes on foreign-funded NGOs that “support” illegal immigration.

Under the proposals, foreigners deemed to support asylum seekers could be stopped from entering Hungary, NGO staff face being barred from approaching border areas and organisations will undergo “security tests”.

An amendment to the constitution to prevent migration that was thwarted by the opposition in 2016 will also be re-submitted to parliament.

© 2018 AFP