Monday

20th Nov 2017

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).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

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.

Interview

EU asylum chief: The 'future' arrived in 2015

Jose Carreira, the European Asylum Support Office executive director, lays out his vision for an agency on the cusp of becoming much bigger and more powerful.

UN criticises EU policy in Libya as 'inhuman'

The EU's policy of helping the Libyan coast guard to return people plucked from the sea is "inhuman", says the UN's human rights chief, given that most end up in dire conditions.

News in Brief

  1. EU medicines agency will move to Milan or Amsterdam
  2. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan in next round of EMA vote
  3. Three countries pull out of medicines agency Brexit race
  4. Schulz calls for new German elections
  5. EU Commission 'confident' on German stability
  6. EU adopts new border check rules
  7. Soros: Hungary's campaign based on 'distortions and lies'
  8. German talks collapse 'bad news', Dutch minister says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  2. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  3. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  4. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  6. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  7. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  8. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  10. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  11. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future