Last Sunday Hungary voted against the EU mandatory migration plan of accepting 1,294 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece but the referendum’s outcome was considered invalid because it didn’t reach the required threshold of 50%. Hence, it has no legal consequences and Hungary is obliged to follow the EU rules, which implies that the member states must also accept the quotas agreed.
Hungary together with the other three Visegrad countries have been opposed to the EU relocation schemes and have sealed their borders to prevent migrants from entering their countries. The link of migration with terrorism is one of the biggest arguments of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
In the meantime, EU signed two direct grants last week worth 600 million euros to help Syrian refugees on education and health in Turkey. What is more, the European Border and Coast Guard which was agreed by the European Parliament and Council is agreed to become operational as of 6 October 2016 at the Bulgarian external border with Turkey. The establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard is a key factor that can reinforce the management and security of EU’s external borders.
Despite EU’s desperate actions to tackle the migration crisis, the number of refugees who have been returned back to Turkey, because of the EU-Turkey deal, is only 580 out of the 15.000 immigrants who have arrived to Greece since last March. The latter reveals how slow things are moving and outlines bureaucracy on the asylum seekers requests as one of the main issues.
Will Hungary’s referendum affect EU solidarity?
The Hungarian referendum is likely to mobilise more European countries at a moment when extreme-right political parties are gaining more and more popularity. Till now, the other member states are ignoring the mandatory migration quotas showing the lack of solidarity that dominates in Europe.
Although the referendum was not valid, the Hungarian Prime Minister attempts to see only the side he wants to see. Victor Orban mentioned that the high proportion (98%) of the citizens who voted No is enough “to ensure that we should not be forced to accept in Hungary people we don’t want to live with”. Furthermore, he had said to Reuters news agency last week that “the more migrants there are, the greater the risk of terror.
EU helps Turkey financially but Erdogan denies it
The EU has mobilized 2.239 billion out of the 3 billion euros under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey since last March when the migration deal was signed between the EU and Turkey. But the Turkish President has said last Monday that the EU has not fulfilled its commitments to provide 3 billion euros of aid for the refugees. More specifically, Erdogan told at a science and technology conference in Ankara: “The year is coming to a close. They promise but do not deliver”.
Regarding visa deliberations, the Turkish President was also critical against EU’s unwillingness to deliver the agreed. Erdogan stated last Saturday in a speech in front of the parliament that the bloc is stepping out from providing visa-free travel to Turkish citizens which was meant to come into effect on October but is now postponed for the end of the year.
Gerald Knaus, the head of the European Stability Initiative, is pointing out that the migration deal is at risk if refugees are not transferred from the Greek islands back to Turkey. The official figures show that 15.000 refugees have arrived via the Aegean Sea to the EU but only 580 were taken back. The latter is serious and could become worrying while migrants start realizing that they don’t have to go back to Turkey.
Europe’s near future seems ominous
The lack of solidarity of the EU countries together with the fact that major EU economies cannot lead effectively is making things very difficult for the Old Continent both economically and politically. The latter is clearly corroborated by the fact that the migration crisis cannot be tackled while Britain will become the first member to exit the European Union in the coming years.
All in all, the migration crisis and Brexit in combination with sluggish economic growth within the bloc are the problems that are making EU citizens wonder whether their politicians are capable of providing them with a prosperous life. Thus far, this has not been accomplished but has increased the popularity of far-right political parties which is falsely presented as the alternative.
All in all, the EU is bound to undergo some severe politico-economic changes that will surely make her weaker by the end of this decade compared to the growing rest of the world.