Wednesday

22nd Feb 2017

EU stands by unloved migrant quotas

  • "Solidarity has to be felt, the application of community law is not optional," the commission says (Photo: Reuters)

Solidarity and the EU relocation system for asylum seekers are two different things, a European Commission spokesman has said.

"Solidarity has to be felt. It has to come from the heart, it's not something that can be dictated by law or by directive. But this has nothing to do with the application of community law, which is not optional," Margaritis Schinas told journalists on Monday (19 September).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He had been asked whether the two-year plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to other EU countries that was launched a year ago was still binding or not.

Last week, in his state of the Union speech, commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said that "when it comes to managing the refugee crisis … solidarity must be given voluntarily."

At Monday's commission press point, Schinas that Juncker's words did not mean a change of position by the EU executive.

"Relocation obligations are enshrined in European law," he said, adding that the plan was "under implementation", even though "not at the rate we would have liked."

When it presented its relocation plan last year, the commission said it was "a solidarity mechanism for all member states."

In May, in its proposal to reform the Dublin asylum system, the commission said member states who do not accept to relocate asylum seekers would have to pay €250,000 per person in their unfulfilled quota.

"There's simply no way around it: whenever a member state is overwhelmed, there must be solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibility within the EU," commission vice-president Frans Timmermans said at the time.

On Monday, Schinas declined to say whether the commission still stuck to that position. He said the proposal was "subject to colegislation" and was "not at all comparable" with the current relocation mechanism.

On Friday, the 27 EU leaders meeting in Bratislava said in a common declaration that EU consensus needed to be broadened, "including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future."

The declaration was agreed under pressure by the so-called Visegrad Four countries - Hungary, Slovakia, the Cezch Republic, and Poland - who said in a joint statement that "migration policy should be based on the principle of 'flexible solidarity'."

Two members of the group, Slovakia and Hungary, have refused to implement the relocation mechanism agreed last year, with the cases due in courts.

The commission spokesman also declined to say whether "voluntary" and "flexible" solidarity are the same policy concepts.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  2. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  3. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  5. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  8. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  9. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  11. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  12. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia