Friday

30th Oct 2020

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

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe 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.

Confusion over Frontex's Greek pushback investigation

In a quick U-turn, EU border agency Frontex says it has now launched an inquiry into allegations it may have blocked potential asylum seekers from reaching the Greek coast, in so-called 'pushbacks'. What form that inquiry will take is unclear.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Analysis

'Sponsored returns' may shuffle failed asylum seekers around EU

The European Commission is banking on cooperation and coordination among EU states to help makes its new migration and asylum pact viable. But its plan is already being greeted with suspicion by more hardline anti-migrant countries like Austria and Hungary.

Analysis

Between the lines, Europe's new Moria unfolds

A new five-day screening of migrants at Europe's external borders is meant to expedite people into either 'asylum' or 'return' tracks. The time-limit is wishful thinking and one that could leave people stranded in make-shift camps or even ghettos.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us