Wednesday

30th Sep 2020

Tusk: EU migrant quotas have 'no future'

  • Tusk said he "sympathised" with Poland, but warned of "consequences". (Photo: Consilium)

EU Council head Donald Tusk has said obligatory migrant quotas "have no future" amid efforts to mend fences with eastern European states.

"I don't see any special future for this project, but it's important to find an understanding that does not separate Poland and other Visegrad group countries from the rest of Europe," Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, told the Polish press agency, Pap, in the margins of a meeting on social affairs in Brussels on Wednesday (18 October).

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

  • Juncker met with Visegrad leaders for a goodwill dinner on Wednesday. (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

"This completely unnecessary conflict between member states must end," he added.

The Visegrad group - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Poland - have refused to take in asylum seekers from Greece and Italy despite an EU vote do so.

The quota scheme formally ended in September, but some countries have continued to take people, with 234 mostly Syrian refugees flying from Athens to Lyon, France, on Wednesday.

EU leaders will discuss reform of the bloc's asylum laws at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

The current regime puts the whole burden of the migration crisis on frontline states, amid talk of potential cuts in EU funding and the prospect of European Commission fines against countries that refuse to show solidarity.

Tusk said Poland had to decide whether to "jointly solve the problems related to migration, which means securing borders, but also helping those countries who have too many refugees" or to opt for a "firm break from European solidarity".

He said he sympathised with some of Poland's "arguments", but he added that there would be "certain consequences" if they continued to violate EU decisions.

"Those are the rules in Europe," he said.

Poland's EU affairs minister, Konrad Szymanski, seized on Tusk's words on Wednesday evening, saying the migrant quotas "were never alive in the first place".

"The system of relocating refugees has not helped anyone, not a single group of refugees, nor any of those countries who still face an unequal burden today," he said.

Juncker dinner

Szymanski spoke after a dinner held by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker with the Visegrad leaders in Brussels the same day.

He said Szydlo had listed a series of concerns that included migration, energy security, and French proposals to limit the freedom of eastern European workers to earn a living in richer EU states.

He said the Commission had "full support from Poland" in its bid to negotiate the terms of a future Russian-German gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2.

He also said Juncker's mini-summit "opened the path to exit from the many political and economic tensions between the countries from our part of Europe and other parts of the EU".

There was no press conference after the dinner, but Juncker tweeted that there was: "On the menu: consensus through #compromise and #cooperation. #unity".

Radovan Javorcik, the Slovak ambassador to the EU, said the meeting also discussed future EU budget allocations for eastern Europe and complaints that counties such as Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden planned to prolong identity checks on internal EU borders.

"It is better sometimes to clarify some things in smaller formats, and then it can be translated into a more concrete discussion within the European Council," he said.

Ales Chmelar, the Czech secretary of state, said the EU needed to "communicate more in some things" and that Juncker would hold more such events in future.

Africa, Brexit

Speaking at a press conference following the social affairs meting on Wednesday, Tusk also praised Italy for having reduced the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.

He said EU leaders should agree to pour more money into an Africa fund that tied aid to reducing the number of people coming to Europe.

"The Commission should make sure the money is well targeted to stemming irregular migration," he said.

Thursday's summit will also tackle Brexit talks.

Tusk said he would propose to EU leaders that they started "preparatory work" for talks with the UK on its post-Brexit transition deal and on future EU trade relations.

But he said the UK had not been detailed enough in its proposals on citizens' rights, the Irish border, and on its EU exit bill to start phase two of the negotiations right away.

"There is clearly not the sufficient progress we had hoped for," he said.

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant abuse

Medecins Sans Frontieres International says European governments are contributing to "the manufacturing of suffering at an industrial level" in Libyan detention centres.

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future

The EU Parliament's lead negotiator on the Dublin rule, a key asylum regulation that has sparked a political clash among EU states, is now demanding for an automatic and permanent relocation scheme.

EU seeks to shut down Libya sea route

EU leaders are aiming to reach a consensus on the Dublin asylum reforms by early next year, announced European Council chief Donald Tusk. But first, they want to shut down the Central Mediterranean route from Libya.

Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact

Michael Spindelegger, the former minister of foreign affairs of Austria and current director of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), reveals some of the proposals in the European Commission's upcoming pact on migration and asylum.

EU boosts pledges to relocate minors from Greece

Over 120 asylum seeking children and teenagers in Greece have so far been relocated to a handful of EU states in a scheme the European Commission says is a demonstration of solidarity. EU states have pledged to take in 2,000.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  3. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID-19 halts the 72nd Session of the Nordic Council in Iceland
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCivil society a key player in integration
  6. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular

Latest News

  1. Celebrate with us. EUobserver's 20 years of independent EU news
  2. Ban on Catalan leader condemned as 'disproportionate'
  3. EU defends Jourova over Hungary's resignation demand
  4. A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?
  5. The EU's new rule of law report - pushing at an open door?
  6. EU tries to avoid lockdowns as global death toll reaches 1m
  7. Reports: Turkey sent Syrian fighters to Azerbaijan
  8. German presidency tries to end EU's rule-of-law battle

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  2. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  4. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  6. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us