Monday

30th Jan 2023

Czech EU presidency wants asylum pledges to be secret

  • The Czech EU presidency will present their ideas at the joint home affairs council on 14 October (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)
Listen to article

The Czech EU presidency wants to keep so-called solidarity pledges by member states secret when it comes to EU asylum rules.

That desire for secrecy is detailed as part of proposals in an internal EU paper dated 29 September and will be presented and discussed later this month among EU interior ministers.

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

The secrecy also highlights the political pitfalls over asylum, following years of infighting among EU states on how to best divide and share out arrivals of those seeking protection.

Past efforts to overhaul EU-wide asylum and migration laws led to a collapse given resistance among anti-migrant countries such as Hungary.

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban only earlier this week reiterated those positions, in a joint-press conference with Austria and Serbia.

At the core of the dispute is relocation, where a person arriving by boat to Italy, for instance, would be sent elsewhere in the EU.

The European Commission's latest proposal, issued in September 2020, has attempted to find a middle ground between relocation and other forms of solidarity.

Now the Czech EU presidency has come forward with its own ideas, which would then be folded into the EU commission's raft of proposals.

"The aim of the presidency with this concept is to advance on the solidarity aspects of the reform," notes the 19-page document.

The paper is peppered with EU jargon, including phrases like "mandatory, but flexible solidarity mechanism".

Essentially, it means EU states are given wide discretion on how to help one another , in case a lot of people arrive seeking international protection.

But it also means that they are obliged to come up with some form of help in times of need.

However, how those forms of help are spelled out will not be made public, notes the paper.

Annual solidarity pool

The Czech concept is composed of an annual migration management report, a permanent EU migration support toolbox, an annual solidarity pool, and an EU migration forum.

First, the report would be drafted annually by the European Commission.

Its aim is to provide an early warning tool, offer a forecast of potential irregular arrivals, and assess what kinds of solidarity will likely be needed for any particular member state.

"The report could also include recommendations for concrete annual solidarity measures (and their numerical scale) required for the upcoming year," notes the paper.

Such recommendations would need to be kept secret, it says.

Second, the paper also suggests the creation of a toolbox for EU states.

This would contain a range of responses for an EU state under migratory pressure.

Some of those responses would exempt EU states from established EU asylum law. The EU jargon describes this as 'flexible responsibility.'

Third, the annual solidarity pool would then "serve as the main stand-ready solidarity response tool," says the paper.

It means EU states would pledge contributions on an annual basis. Those pledges are mandatory.

And finally, a 'high-level EU migration forum' would be organised as part of the justice and home affairs council (JHA) meeting at the end of the year.

"At this forum, member states would be obliged to pledge a contribution to the pool, taking into account the recommendations by the Commission included in the report," says the paper.

Those contributions, would also be kept secret, noting that the "outcome of this exercise (the content of the annual Pool) shall be adopted by the JHA Council and would not be made public."

The latest effort comes after the European Parliament and the forthcoming rotating EU presidencies pledged to finalise the asylum overhaul before the European elections in 2024.

But they also follow past efforts by the French EU presidency to drum up support to get EU states to relocate arrivals from places of first-arrival, such as Greece, Italy and Cyprus.

They managed to get some 9,000 pledges, in what was billed as historic.

EU migration and asylum pact faces reality check

The EU wants to finalise the overhaul of the migration and asylum laws before the end of the current mandate in 2024. But big issues on solidarity remain unsolved, including in the European Parliament.

Opinion

EU leaders have until Friday for refugee resettlement pledges

EU commissioner Ylva Johansson's words on refugee protection were welcome. But, worryingly, the commitments made by EU leaders at the forum have not translated into action. There is still time for them to save face — but it's running out.

Czech EU presidency proposes annual asylum relocation figure

The Czech EU presidency is proposing an annual minimum on the number of asylum seekers EU states are willing to relocate. The idea is part of bigger discussion on solidarity sharing, a concept that has long eluded member states.

Opinion

New deregulation will see EU states cherry-picking asylum law

Through a mechanism to be discussed on Wednesday, member states would permanently be able to derogate at will from their obligations under EU asylum law — de fact creating a cherry-picking system between EU member states.

Column

Six reasons why 'where are you really from?' is racist

Next time you think people should not be criticised for "just being curious" about someone's origin, ask yourself just why that harmless extra sub-question only ever surfaces around non-white Europeans.

Latest News

  1. No internet, light, heat: how war-hit Ukrainians remote-work
  2. Mars, god of war, returns to Europe
  3. Fears on migration plus Ukraine summit this WEEK
  4. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  5. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  6. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  7. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  8. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  4. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  6. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us