Public Affairs Networking
25/06 – Compulsory migrant quota to be rejected by EU leaders

Most newspapers report on today’s EU Council meeting in Brussels, in which leaders are meant to hammer out a plan to tackle migration. Magyar Nemzet reports that EU leaders are divided on the issue, agreeing only on the need for reform. The Visegrád Four countries for instance issued a joint statement yesterday saying they consider the proposed mandatory quotas for refugee redistribution across the EU “unacceptable,” and many other governments are ready to reject the measure.

Der Standard writes that there is “Blow after blow” in the European dispute about the increasing refugee numbers, as one EU member country after another rejects the agreement to distribute the refugees more fairly. The Independent cites an EU official saying that the idea of mandatory quotas “will never gather support from member states” and will be watered down to a voluntary pledge. El País also reports that European leaders will agree to take in the 40,000 potential Syrian and Eritrean refugees who arrived in Italy and Greece and who Brussels proposed to resettle in the next two years, but without establishing a quota system, as European countries want to make clear that migration policy is a national competence and the European Commission has no powers to impose anything on them.

Efimerida Ton Sintakton quoting EurActiv also says it is “certain” that the European Commission proposal has been defeated, and Münchner Merkur confirms that according to European diplomats, the proposal is now “off the table”. This outcome is a “serious setback for the EC,” according to De Volkskrant, as EC President Juncker fully supported the initiative.

In an interview with El Mundo, European Parliament President Martin Schulz claims to be “very sceptical about reaching a solution over the refugee issue,” blaming “some member states” for it. “It is not a matter of European incapacity, the problem is a lack of courage and solidarity among EU member states,” he says. And that is a “very, very worrisome sign for the future of the European Union,” because Europe means solidarity among nations and among peoples, he concludes.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi urged the EU to be “more ambitious” and find a compromise between fear and a solution that is not “a superficial display of goodness,” Il Messaggero reports. Italy is indeed calling for more responsibility and solidarity from the EU to tackle the migrant crisis. A Guardian editorial reports that “it is time for Europe both to admit the scale of the migration tragedy and to accept greater responsibility towards some of its victims,” concluding by calling for the UK to admit 10% of the refugees the EU summit will accept today.

Many, such as Alexander Graf Lambsdorff MEP on DLF continue to criticise Hungary’s decision to refuse to welcome refugees. “Hungary is trampling all over Europe’s principles,” he argues. Several newspapers including Gazeta Wyborcza also mention the disputes over immigrants at the borders between the UK and France, France and Italy as well as Austria and Hungary which all point to the “inadequacy of current legal arrangements”.

Several commentators, like Finnish Foreign and European Affairs Minister Timo Soini on YLE TV1, and a Times editorial, however, believe that the internal transfers would only serve as an incentive for refugees. A Salzburger Nachrichten editorial argues that we should be aware that the EU’s asylum regulation has failed even without Hungary announcing a ban on accepting refugees. This is because it is both unfair and inefficient. The Dublin system is already “riddled with holes”, so it may as well be abolished, it says.

Der Standard also argues that the Dublin III Regulation has turned out to be “completely unsuitable,” while Lambsdorff admits that “everyone” knows that Dublin III doesn’t work anymore. La Stampa reports that the European leaders today will discuss the possibility of reinforcing Frontex’ role to repatriate illegal migrants, and also new “hotspots” to identify and register migrants. Radio 24 adds that the EC has announced that it intends to propose modifying Frontex’ role, in order to be able to repatriate illegal migrants.

The Malta Times meanwhile mentions that today’s European Council meeting risks being overshadowed by the Greek crisis, as a Eurogroup meeting held in the hope of reaching an economic agreement with Athens broke up early yesterday, with a deal still some distance away. Russian Kommersant notes that for once, Russia shouldn’t be on the agenda.


  1. […] attempts on trying to remedy the situation. All four countries were strongly lobbying against the compulsory migrant quota proposed by the Commission, urging more effective measures than “superficial act of goodness”. […]

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