EU‘s Migration Conundrum: Eastern European Leaders Hit Back at the New Plan

Written by | Monday, September 28th, 2020

European Union leaders say they have solved the conundrum of the bloc’s long-criticised migration policies but opponents to the newly unveiled pact (23 September) warn that the scheme could prevent more member states from accepting migrants. The European Commission hoped the New Pact on Migration and Asylum would constitute “a proper single cohesive migration policy”, said Margarítis Schinás, Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, adding that the new policies are designed to speed up processing at the bloc’s external borders and instead of imposing quotas on member states, will allow them to contribute in other ways to migration policy. The pact will also have to get the green light from both the European Council and Parliament.
But the dense series of new policies has already come under some criticism by Eastern European leaders, human rights organisations and experts. Czech Republic’s Andrej Babis, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki and Hungary’s Viktor Orban shot down the EU’s planned migration reform ahead of scheduled talks. The three heads of the so-called Visegrad group expressed their unanimous disapproval and conveyed their skepticism of the EU Commission’s migration plan after meeting with EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday (24 September). “The breakthrough will come when the Hungarian proposal is accepted that says that nobody can enter the territory of the European Union until one of the member states closes their asylum procedure,” Hungary’s Orban said. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters that the EU should be stopping migrants at the border and sending them home.
Meanwhile, DW’s senior correspondent Barbara Wesel crisicises the new migration pact because it means „a victory for the nationalists.“ Wesel points out that while the scheme puts an end to asylum quotas, member states reluctant to provide refuge to displaced people can now do as they will. She sees as the central element of the new migration pact the end of asylum quotas. The commissioners have understood that they cannot force the eastern EU members states to take in displaced people, and they have given up on trying to persuade them to. That is a fine victory for nationalists of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ilk. Instead, there is to be a so-called solidarity mechanism.
A member state that refuses to take in refugees can instead become involved in deportations. It is not quite clear how that will function in practice. But this job could be very eagerly taken on by officials in Warsaw, Prague and Budapest. In these circumstances, what is to persuade other member states not to take the same path and show their “solidarity” through deportations, as well? Who might take in displaced people at all by that point? The proposal is a declaration of capitulation to the nationalists: an undeserved victory for them. And what is missing completely is the word “humanity.” Here, the management of migration has triumphed completely over compassion for people.

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