Friday

21st Sep 2018

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).

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

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.

Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate

Issues of sovereignty remain entrenched following a proposal by the European Commission to expand the EU's border and coast guard, also known as Frontex, to 10,000. But EU leaders maintain a "basic consensus" of support had been reached.

EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers

EU council president Donald Tusk wants to discuss deepening relations with authoritarian Egypt, as a model of migrant reduction, with EU heads of state and government at a meeting in Salzburg, Austria on Wednesday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us