No further progress in the migration agenda is expected before the European elections as EU interior ministers last week failed to finalize a revamp of the EU’s migration policy. Following the proposal of a new legislative package, five of the seven regulations have been agreed. However, the key one – the projected harmonization of the EU’s asylum procedures and the controversial question of relocation quotas for refugees – is still in limbo.
“It is the official day to conclude that there’s no agreement on asylum,” an EU representative told reporters in Brussels. The statement does not come as a surprise since the asylum agenda has been facing a fierce opposition of the Visegrad Group – Poland, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak Republic – who have been labeled as “Merciless Four” due to their harsh stance towards migrants and refugees, especially those from the Muslim countries.
While taking stock of what was achieved on the immigration front, EU Commissioner for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos blamed “misinformation, untruths and fake news” for obscuring the discourse on the issue, which is bound to rule the pre-election campaign. The commissioner also warned that Spain was “under particular migratory pressure” and would continue to need emergency support from the EU while “migration will continue to be an important topic” in the coming year.
Despite the improvements and the decline in absolute numbers, the perception of migration remains poor just like the overall public opinion. 40% of Europeans consider immigration to be one of the two most important issues facing the continent. In the meantime, not much has been achieved since the capitals have been deadlocked for more than a year on the planned revamp of the EU’s asylum policy.