Migration crisis update: lack of solidarity not only among EU leaders but also EU officials

European Council, 14-15/12/2017
Date: 14/12/2017. © European Union , 2017. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

It was two days ago, on the anniversary of the International migration day, when the United Nations urged everyone to contribute to make migration safer in the world.

The EU leaders gathered on December 14-15 in Brussels to discuss among others how to tackle refugee crisis. The key point which created disagreements was the letter from the president of the European Council where it was mentioned that the mandatory quotas are controversial and it is very difficult to have an unanimity.

Most of the EU leaders, except for the Visegrad group, opposed to the above opinion urging for more solidarity. Of course, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary which were referred by the European Commission to the European Court of Justice for ignoring quotas to relocate refugees supported the view of Donald Tusk.

Commission against Tusk

Before the start of the EU summit, Donald Tusk sent a letter to the EU leaders mentioning that imposing quotas to each and every country in order to deal with the migration crisis is not effective. More specifically, the president of the EC said: “The topic of mandatory quotas is for sure very important, but this is not the solution for the problem. And on the other hand, this is the most time-consuming issue or dimension when it comes to the migration debate and talks here in Brussels and other capitals”.

The EU migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos reacted furiously on this letter and Tusk’s statements by calling the latter “anti-European”. A spokeswoman also said that these quotas are part of the solution pointing their importance as “over 32.000 people have been relocated – over 90% of all those eligible.” Furthermore, the position of the EC is that all countries have to show an EU approach. To be precise, it was stated that: “Returning to a pre-crisis mode of isolated, uncoordinated, national action is not an option and would betray years’ worth of collective work to better the collective European response to managing migration.”

EU member states in favor of quotas

The largest EU economy supported that relocation schemes should be part of European policy against illegal migration. Particularly, Angela Merkel stated last Thursday: “We need solidarity not just in regulating and steering migration but we also need internal solidarity.” Besides, Germany has been supporting these quotas as back in 2015 accepted more than one million refugees. Greece through its Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also criticized the stance of Donald Tusk and characterized it as “aimless, ill-timed and pointless”.

Quotas are not among migration measures

The mandatory quotas are considered by the president of the European Council as not the solution to solve this long-lasting issue as it is very difficult to be implemented. On the contrary, Mr Tusk said that Multiannual Financial Framework, a tool which will provide financial aid to tackle migration, and reform of the Dublin regulation are two main goals through which the EU can deal with this crisis effectively.

Financial support is not enough

During the EU summit, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia promised to deliver financial aid of 35 million euros in projects led by Italy. This support targets at protecting the borders with Libya in order to slow down the influx of refugees travelling to Italy.

However, several countries reacted to this action characterizing it as inadequate. Mark Rutte, the Dutch Prime Minister, mentioned: “This is what every country is doing. This cannot come in the place of, instead of being willing to take up your fair share in terms of the burden-sharing.” What is more, Paolo Gentiloni, the Italian Prime Minister, thanked the Visegrad group for the contribution but said that these countries should pledge to accept migrants.

International migration day

Last Monday, on the international migration day, the United Nations urged for global cooperation in order to be able to make sure that migration is managed efficiently ensuring that human rights are protected. Secretary-General António Guterres specifically said: “Evidence overwhelmingly shows that migrants generate economic, social and cultural benefits for societies everywhere. Yet, hostility towards migrants is unfortunately growing around the world. Solidarity with migrants has never been more urgent.”

William Lacy Swing, Director-General of the International Organization of Migration, cried out for a world with safer migration. In detail, William Lacy Swing stated: If we don’t come up with solutions, the smugglers will do it for us, at great cost to human life and to the fabric of our societies.”

Although the influx of refugees to the Greek islands is decreasing, the migration crisis continues to be a significant humanitarian and policy matter for Brussels and the EU member states. Are the mandatory quotas going to be annulled? Unfortunately, the outburst of populism in Europe and the persistence of some EU countries to keep their borders closed to migrants polarizes the Europeans and grows xenophobia. It remains to be seen how things will evolve in the first half of 2018 when the EU is expected to show more solidarity and coherence towards this humanitarian crisis.

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