Sunday

19th Aug 2018

Tusk: 'Wave of migrants too big not to be stopped'

  • 'Access to Europe is too easy,' Tusk said. (Photo: Consillium)

The current influx of migrants is "too big not to stop them," European Council president Donald Tusk has said. He proposed that irregular migrants are detained for up to 18 months to check their identity.

In an interview with six European newspapers, Tusk said there is "no majority" in Europe for plans to relocate asylum seekers and that the priority should be the protection of Schengen's external borders.

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 scheme to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece has been pushed by Tusk's EU Commission counterpart, Jean-Claude Juncker, and by Germany's Angela Merkel. So far, just a few dozen people have been relocated.

"I am convinced there is no majority in the EU for such a system," Tusk said, adding that "this time, central Europe is not the only problem."

"Let's avoid hypocrisy: it is not a question of international solidarity anymore, but a problem of European capacities. Europeans would be less reluctant if the EU's external border was really under control," he said.

"Today access to Europe is, simply speaking, too easy,” he added.

Tusk, who chairs the summits of EU leaders, asked them to "change [their] mindset" and covertly took on Merkel.

"Some [leaders] say the wave of migrants is too big to stop them. That is dangerous," he said.

"This wave of migrants is too big not to stop them," he said, adding that nobody is ready "to absorb these high numbers, Germany included."

Effective controls

He noted that debate on migration has slipped out of the hands of "politicians or intellectuals or commentators" and has gone "really public because the fear and uncertainty is so genuine.”

He also reiterated that the key is border control.

"Every country must respect and apply the Schengen Borders Code, including the rule that asylum requests be filed in the country of arrival, for example Greece, and not somewhere else," Tusk said.

"It is often said that we must be open to Syrian refugees. But these are only 30 percent of the inflow. Seventy percent are economic migrants. Also for this reason we need more effective controls," Tusk noted.

Controls are not only a matter of stemming the flow, but also a question of security, he said, floating the idea that the EU should be ready to retain illegal migrants as long as it can to check them.

"If you want to screen migrants and refugees, you need more time than only one minute to fingerprint," he noted, adding that international and European law allow up to 18 months "for the screening we need.”

EU agrees on Schengen checks for all

EU "collective reaction must be ruthless," said French minister, as controls are to be stepped up for migrants and EU nationals.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and Greece strike deal on taking back migrants
  2. Merkel confronts far-right critics: '2015 will not be repeated'
  3. UN: Predictable disembarkation process urgently needed
  4. Slovenia set to select former comedian as prime minister
  5. Polish president to veto election rule helping big parties
  6. MEPs blast UK 'alphabetical approach' on citizens rights
  7. EU hits back over Salvini's blame for bridge collapse
  8. Poll: Sweden's social democrat-led government set to win again

EU ready to shore up Morocco migrant funding

The European Commission says it is ready to boost spending in Morocco when it comes to stop migrant hopefuls from reaching Spain by boat. The money follows demands for help from Madrid as irregular arrival numbers spike in Spain.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  2. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections
  3. Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life
  4. Women shun EU-funded site for female entrepreneurs
  5. Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism
  6. Brexit talks resume as chance of 'no deal' put at 50:50
  7. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  8. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us