Friday

19th Jul 2019

Learn to love migrant quotas, Juncker tells eastern EU

  • "It’s not the EU, but some member states that are failing on refugees," said Juncker (r) during the debate with Schulz (l). (Photo: European Commission)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has dismissed claims that he abandoned a proposal to relocate migrants under national quotas.

“I remain attached to the idea that we need to answer the migration crisis with solidarity and the heart,” he said on Tuesday (27 September) during a debate with Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament.

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

Earlier this month, Juncker had seemed to disavow the idea when saying, in his annual speech of the union, that solidarity cannot be imposed from above. He now rebuffed such interpretations.

“What I did say was that measures cannot be imposed just by the wish of those who want to impose them and that we need to bring eastern and western Europe together on this issue,” he explained.

When a journalist noted that the gulf between eastern and western member stated seemed to be widening, Juncker replied: “We know from personal life that it’s quite unusual to be struck by love. For love to be born, we need to give it necessary time.”

The quota proposal was cast last year with the aim of distributing asylum seekers more evenly among the bloc.

EU not failing

Hungary and Slovakia have since challenged the idea in the EU's top court, and Hungary is holding a referendum on Sunday on the issue.

Juncker said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban was targeting the commission and parliament with criticism over the proposal, but in fact EU governments had approved the scheme and most of them still backed it.

“It’s not the EU, but some member states that are failing on refugees,” Juncker said.

EU parliament's Schulz tuned in saying Orban was misleading voters and should stop dividing the EU.

“The EU is based on compromise, not on confrontation,” he said.

“Europe was always strong when there was a spirit of unity. Eastern countries are asking for solidarity on economic development, on Russia, but have none of it when it comes to refugees. Solidarity is a principle, not cherry picking.”

The two leaders gathered in Brussels’ Solvay library for a political programme on France 24, a TV channel.

They answered questions on the future of Europe sent in by viewers in two discussions, in English and French.

During the debates, Juncker reiterated his support for another term for Schulz as leader of the European Parliament after his mandate expires at the end of the year.

“We should try to ensure stability in times of crisis,” Juncker said. “Those who are there and work almost exemplary can continue.”

Schulz has already been in office for two terms, and his efforts to win a third, as well as Juncker’s support for him to do so, have vexed MEPs from opposing blocs. The post is usually divided between the parliament’s two largest groups, but Schulz showed willing to break against this custom.

The German Social-Democrat said he took note that many people were thinking of his future, adding: “And some seem to think I am doing a good job.”

This text was updated on Thursday to clarify that Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz participated in two shows for France 24, one in French and another English. They didn't say exactly the same things in the two programmes. This article mostly quotes from the French interview.

Opinion

Relocation farce brings shame on Europe

France has set a good example on refugee relocation, but most EU states are being grimly egotistic, leaving the most vulnerable to suffer.

Commission edited out Juncker gaffe

A European Commission spokeswoman has defended the practice of editing online transcripts of speeches to remove controversial comments.

Hungary and Slovakia challenge quotas at the EU's top court

During a hearing at the EU's top court, Hungary and Slovakia defended their decision not to take in asylum seekers based on a mandatory quota system, while the European Commission, Germany and others stressed the need for solidarity.

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Survey: 50% of EU staff 'don't know' internal ethics rules
  2. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  3. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  4. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators
  5. Rudderless Europe: Will real Germany please stand up?
  6. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  7. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  8. EU proposes yearly rule of law 'reports'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us