Monday

28th Sep 2020

Refugee quotas 'unacceptable' for Visegrad states

  • Prague: Visegrads say EU should tackle causes of migration (Photo: Crail Elliot)

The four Visegrad Group states - the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia - reaffirmed Friday (4 September) their opposition to quotas of refugee relocation between EU countries.

"Any proposal leading to [the] introduction of mandatory and permanent quotas as solidarity measures would be unacceptable”, the four prime ministers said in a statement after meeting in Prague.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The communique, which, the PMs say "will serve as a basis for co-ordinated positions" for the upcoming emergency meeting of EU justice and interior ministers on 14 September, as well as an EU summit in mid-October, puts them in direct opposition with Germany and France.

On Thursday, chancellor Angela Merkel and president Francois Hollande called for a "permanent and mandatory mechanism" to relocate asylum seekers in Europe.

The Visegrad countries are also at odds with the European Commission, which pushed for a relocation scheme for 40,000 asylum seekers earlier this year and is currently preparing a proposal for 120,000 more migrants.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is set to put forward the initiative on Wednesday (9 September) in his State of the Union address to the European Parliament.

A day after Hungarian PM Viktor Orban met with EU institution leaders in Brussels with no concrete measures taken, his Czech, Polish, and Slovak partners said that "as an expression of their solidarity, [they] stand ready to provide Hungary with further assistance."

The Czech and Slovak interior ministers told reporters they were ready to consider a train corridor for transporting Syrian refugees heading from Hungary to Germany, if Budapest and Berlin agree.

Borders

In their statement, the four countries also "declare that they will continue to fulfill their obligations under the EU acquis, including the responsibility to protect the EU and Schengen Area external borders".

The Schengen zone is the EU’s internal, passport-free travel area.

On Thursday, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, who has already built a fence on the border with Serbia, said he would be ready to build another one on the border with Croatia. 

Croatia, an EU member state, is not part of Schengen.

But on Friday, a commission spokesperson told reporters that a new fence would "not be desirable, to say the least".

As a response to calls for EU solidarity on migration, the Visegrad countries reminded they "have continuously pointed out that an effective management of the root causes of migration flows is the key element” in any solution.

Root causes

The commission, Germany, France, and so-called front-line countries, such as Italy and Greece, are pushing for solutions to the crisis on European soil.

But the Visegrad four are focusing on long-term and external actions.

They declare themselves ready to provide financial aid to "countries with significant refugee populations (Turkey, Jordan, Iraq/Kurdistan, Lebanon, including refugee camps, as well as the transit countries of the Western Balkans)”.

They also said they’re willing to "provide experts and technical equipment" to protect EU external borders and to manage asylum procedures.

While emphasising the importance of the fight against smuggler networks, they said they would continue to back "the international coalition fighting Da’esh in Iraq and Syria" and efforts to stabilise Iraq.

Such actions are "tangible forms of tackling the root causes of the migration flows”, they said.

In what could be seen as a sign of willingness to stick to the rules as well as a way of indicating they will accept no new measures, the four countries called for "the full implementation of the April and June European Council conclusions”.

The previous conclusions ruled out obligatory quotas.

Opinion

Visegrad members must stick together

Informal coalitions are becoming more important in EU politics, the Czech EU affairs minister says, as V4 leaders meet in Prague on immigration.

EU's east-west migrant rift abates

EU summit expected to show tempers have cooled between some central European countries and their EU peers, weeks after a divisive debate on relocations.

Opinion

What Central Europe got right about the refugee crisis

The perception that Western Europe cares about refugees while Eastern Europe does not is overly simplistic. Despite hatred incited by some leaders, proposals made by Eastern Europeans have proven sensible in the long run.

Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact

Michael Spindelegger, the former minister of foreign affairs of Austria and current director of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), reveals some of the proposals in the European Commission's upcoming pact on migration and asylum.

EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece

Over 120 asylum seeking children and teenagers in Greece have so far been relocated to a handful of EU states in a scheme the European Commission says is a demonstration of solidarity. EU states have pledged to take in 2,000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Caucasus warfare prompts EU alarm
  2. Summit reloaded and last Brexit round This WEEK
  3. EU denies 'clandestine' mission on Venezuela election date
  4. Between the lines, Europe's new Moria unfolds
  5. Now's the time to give QMV a chance in EU foreign policy
  6. European hiccups on the way to West Africa
  7. Berlin repeats support for EU human rights sanctions
  8. China's carbon pledge at UN sends 'clear message' to US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us