Thursday

18th Oct 2018

EU mini-summit to 'slow flows' of refugees

  • Juncker (r) speaks to German police on recent visit (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Leaders of frontline states on the Balkan migrant trail are in talks on hosting hundreds of extra border guards to “slow down the flows” of refugees.

The proposal, seen by EUobserver, was put forward by the European Commission ahead of a mini-summit, being held in Brussels on Sunday (25 October), on the crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The 16-point plan says Frontex, the EU border control agency in Warsaw, is to deploy staff on the Greek-Albanian and Greek-Macedonian border “to focus on exit checks” and “registration of refugees and migrants who have not yet registered in Greece”.

Frontex will help “detect irregular border crossings and support registration and fingerprinting in Croatia”.

It will also deploy, by Wednesday, “400 border guards and essential equipment” in Slovenia.

At the same time, “leaders will ensure a full capacity to register arrivals, with maximum use of biometric data … at the point of first entry into the EU”.

They will also “commit to refrain from facilitating the movement of refugees or migrants to the border of another country of the region without the agreement of that country”.

The commission underlines that its emergency scheme “does not replace” the “obligation for EU member states of mandatory registration in line with the common European asylum system rules”.

Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker called Sunday’s meeting as tens of thousands of people a day keep coming, mostly from camps in Turkey, via Greece and the Western Balkans, en route to Austria and Germany.

The situation has seen Hungary seal its borders, creating human bottlenecks in Croatia and Slovenia.

It has also seen Austria and Germany threaten to close borders, with Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia threatening to follow suit.

Sunday’s event includes German chancellor Angela Merkel, who expects up to 1 million asylum claims in her country this year.

It also includes counterparts from EU states Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Slovenia, and from EU candidate countries Albania, Macedonia, and Serbia.

Serbia

An EU source said that, on top of the commission blueprint, EU states will try to persuade Serbia to host more refugees in return for financial assistance and political perks, on the model of a recent EU-Turkey “action plan”.

There’s less scope for Macedonia co-operation because Skopje is bogged down in an internal political crisis.

But its PM, Nikola Gruevski, who’s under EU fire for failure to comply with anti-corruption measures, is also likely to seek political concessions.

The commission plan notes that “refugees need to be treated in a humane manner”.

But its principal aim is to “restore stability to the management of migration in the region and to slow down the flows” of people in need.

It says “leaders commit to step up their national and collectively coordinated efforts to return of migrants not in need of international protection”.

It notes that “cooperation will be intensified with Afghanistan, in particular in the area of returns”.

It also says if migrants “do not confirm a wish to apply for international protection” in, say, Croatia or Greece, preferring to wait until they get to Germany, then the frontline EU states “may refuse entry”.

Amid increasing ill will between EU capitals, the commission adds that the “challenge … will not be solved through national actions”.

“Countries affected should not only talk about and at each other but also with each other”.

Root causes

Coming into the summit on Sunday, Merkel told press: “We are here to coordinate and [to] make the reception of refugees more humane”.

But she warned that only Turkey has the power to stop the exodus.

Serb PM Aleksandar Vucic said: “We’re ready to take our part of the burden on our shoulders. But we need to see what will be the comprhensive solution to the crisis”.

Zoran Milanovic, the Croatian leader, noted he’s ready to “soft-heartedly accept” the commission plan.

But he added: “The root cause has to be tackled in Greece and Turkey. These are just nice Sunday afternoon talks”.

Miro Cerar, the Slovenian leader, warned that: "If we do not deliver some imediate concrete measures, I believe that the EU all together will start falling apart".

He urged Croatia "not to send people to us without notifying us" and warned of unilateral "measures to protect Slovenian security" if need be.

Hungary’s Viktor Orban said the EU should “put an end to [its] open border policy”.

Having sealed off his own country, he added: “Hungary is not on the route anymore. We are simply observers here”.

Johannes Hahn, the EU’s neighbourhood commissioner, indicated that Russia’s military intervention in Syria is making matters worse.

“With increased military action in Syria, pressure to flee has increased”, he said.

“In the past couple of weeks, in the surrounding of Aleppo [in northern Syria] 3 million people have been affected by increase of military action, which might have an immediate impact for Europe”.

Centre-right leaders close ranks on migration

EPP leaders made a concerted effort to demonstrate unity by sharing a tougher stance on border security at a congress in Madrid designed to support Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy.

Balkan migrant route plan full of caveats

The success of the action plan agreed by EU and Balkan leaders on Sunday will depend on funding, member state cooperation and migrants' good will. None of them are guaranteed yet.

Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action

In 2015, internet activist Lyudmila Savchuk went under cover to expose a troll factory in St Petersburg. As the EU summit endorses anti-disinformation action, she told EUobserver the Russian government is bankrolling many more.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  2. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  3. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  4. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  5. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  6. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  7. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  8. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us