Saturday

17th Nov 2018

EU migrant quota idea is finished, Fico says

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has declared the idea of migration quotas “politically finished”.

"Quotas today clearly divide the EU, therefore I think they are politically finished," he told journalists in Bratislava on Monday, according to Reuters.

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 quotas were introduce last year at the peak of the refugee crisis with an aim to distributing asylum seekers streaming into the continent among European Union member states based on solidarity.

Slovakia, along with Hungary, has challenged last year’s council decision to distribute 120,000 asylum seekers at the EU’s top court.

Hungary will hold a referendum on Sunday where voters are expected to reject EU migration quotas.

Despite its opposition, Slovakia's EU presidency meant it was charged with attempting to push through the commission’s quota proposal under the reform of the EU's Dublin asylum system.

So far around 5,200 were relocated from the 160,000 asylum seekers that were to be sent across the EU, according official data.

'Official EU policy'

The Visegrad countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - have long opposed the scheme, and presented an alternative proposal at the Bratislava Summit two weeks ago.

It calls for “flexible solidarity”, whereby countries that do not want to take migrants could contribute to the EU’s migration policy with other means, financially, with equipment or manpower, something the Visegrad countries are already doing in the Balkans.

The Visegrad proposal argues for taking into account the "potential and experience" of each member state when deciding on the number of refugees it could accept.

After the Bratislava meeting German chancellor Angela Merkel, who pushed her EU partners to sign up to the quota plan, conceded some level of flexibility was needed.

“The statement of V4 and the proposal to add flexibility and look at possible solutions is a positive proposal,” she said after the meeting in Bratislava.

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also agreed that countries should be allowed not to take in refugees in exchange for other forms of help.

Last week, he told the European Economic and Social Committee that if Hungary and Poland cannot take in refugees, they could do more with regards to protection of the EU’s external border.

The idea of flexibility also seems to have taken hold in the European Parliament, which has so far backed the commission’s mandatory quota plans.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz told the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung over the weekend that the Visegrad proposal needs to be taken aboard.

"I welcome it if now the Visegrad countries are willing to talk about a greater financial commitment. We are well advised to take this offer, " he said.

Manfred Weber, leader of the largest group in the EP, the conservative European People’s Party also told the newspaper: "More flexible solidarity is the only way, as we move forward".

"What the Visegrad countries – including Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – have been saying for a year and a half now becomes official EU policy," Fico said on Monday.

"Whoever wants to divide Europe, let them put quotas on the table, who wants to unite Europe, let them come up with a different concept of fight against illegal migration."

EU funds for Bulgaria target border security

Reception and detention facilities in Bulgaria are in poor shape but most of the €108-million emergency aid package announced by the EU commission will go to border security and surveillance.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us