In his opening address to the Budapest Demography Forum, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán insisted that the European Union cannot afford to rely on immigration to build its future instead of families and children, when family is the centre of human development.  He believes that Europe’s very civilisation and culture are at stake.  The opposition party in Hungary, Együtt, also believes that families must be better supported to have and raise children, but that Orban is not doing enough.  Held between the 5 – 7 November, the Forum was organised to address concerns that Europe is a continent of empty cradles, with few children born and a dwindling population. While some see migration as the solution to the demographic crisis, Orbán stated that Hungary believes in strengthening families and sustainable communities. Hungary Today reports of Orban’s speech:

Even though Europe was “the most ageing continent”, families are not sufficiently in the focus of European policies because that subject is “not PC”, Orbán said.  “We want to restore families to the focus of European politics,” Orbán said, warning that “Europe’s civilisation and culture are at stake”. One crucial question revolves around who will be Europe’s inhabitants in the future, Orbán said. “It would be worthwhile talking about that seriously; still, some other subjects get a lot more time, focus, energy and money,” Orbán said, mentioning disputes around gender and gay marriages, for example.

…The Hungarian government is going to great lengths to make it clear that supporting families does not equal curbing freedoms; “that conflation is a cunning trick which must be revealed so that we can honestly support the family and our values,” Orbán said. The majority of Hungarians think that children are a blessing for the family and society, Orbán said, arguing that “there is no future without children and no security for the elderly”.


In a message read out at the Forum by Polish deputy state secretary Wojciech Kolarski, Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, also urged a comprehensive strategy focusing on support for families to tackle the demographic challenges Europe is facing, and Jan Figel, Vice-President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, said what was good for families was good for Europe.  These leaders are realising that, if the natural family is the centre of human development, sheer reality makes clear that parents and children must continue to be supported and encouraged.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...