Poland and Hungary were the two countries that voted against the European Union Council’s proposal to unify the bloc’s asylum policies through a “solidarity and sharing” mechanism.
The European Union’s plans to adopt tougher asylum and migration policies through a “solidarity and sharing mechanism” agreed upon last week, through a majority vote, has been met with strong opposition from Poland and Hungary.
Poland will attempt to block the migration and asylum pact that the Council of the EU adopted in meetings last week in Luxembourg and hopes to build a coalition of opponents, reported by European news portal Euractiv on June 12.
The pushback from Poland is in response to a compromise deal on asylum reform intended to lighten the load of countries like Italy and Greece. Because of their location at the EU’s external border and their accessibility by sea, gateway countries like Italy and Greece have been the main entry points for people trying to reach the EU by boat.
Previously, Brussels had proposed a policy wherein the number of migrants to be taken in by northern and eastern EU countries would be based on the size of their population. So far, it has been up to the individual EU states to comply with such quotas.
Under the compromise deal last week, EU member states could opt out of the established quotas of asylum seekers under the relocation mechanism and instead make a financial contribution of €20,000 ($21,553) per relocation into a fund managed by Brussels.
As reported by Euractiv, Polish conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government spokesman, Piotr Müller, said, “Poland will block the solutions regarding the relocation of migrants.”
Muller also called the Council’s position “short-term thinking, which will de facto cause migration waves to grow.”
Building a coalition of opposition
Poland and Hungary were the two countries who voted against the Council’s approved compromise asylum reform policy, reportedly citing the sum of €20,000 per person being too high as one of their reasons.
Zoltan Kovacs, spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said on Twitter on June 12 that he believed “Brussels cannot abuse its power” and that the will of the Hungarian people in voting in his government which has vowed to keep migrants out of the country should be respected.
The European Policy Center (EPC), an independent non-profit research body, said the two countries’ opposition highlights a persistent problem in trying to achieve solidarity in migration policy across the Euro bloc.
“While migration and asylum policy do not require unanimity, past experience has shown that a qualified majority likely will not suffice to ensure commitment and compliance in the long run,” wrote the EPC.
Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban wrote on Facebook on Friday, “Brussels is abusing its power…This is unacceptable! They want to turn Hungary into a country of immigrants by force,” German news agency DW reported.
Along with Poland and Hungary, Malta, Slovakia, and Bulgaria also did not support the reform plans.
In 2020, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Budapest, Warsaw, and Prague broke the law by refusing to take in refugees, mostly people escaping from war in Syria and Iraq. The EU’s top court rejected legal arguments that the refusal of the three central European countries to take in refugees was to maintain public safety, law, and order.
Poland: hosting the highest number of Ukrainians seeking protection
Poland has taken in 1.6 million war refugees from Ukraine, making it the country hosting the largest number of Ukrainians seeking protection.
On Twitter, Polish European Affairs Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek wrote that the country has successfully managed the biggest refugee crisis since World War II. “We will not accept absurd ideas being imposed on us,” he wrote.
In addition to migrant relocation and cost sharing, the EU ministers also agreed on a new system that would filter asylum applicants based on the likelihood that their application would be approved.
People from countries considered less at risk–or those countries with recognition rates below 20%–would have their applications assessed through an evaluation procedure at the border.
In 2022, the countries in this list included India, North Macedonia, Moldova, Vietnam, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Nepal.
The compromise deal arrived at last week paves the way for final negotiations within the EU Parliament, slated for 2024.
In a statement, Stephanie Pope, Oxfam EU migration expert, criticized the EU’s proposed asylum reform policy as not addressing the chronic deficiencies in the EU asylum system.
“EU countries plan to buy themselves out of their responsibility to welcome refugees… Amid this race to the bottom in the asylum system, EU countries are trying now more than ever to pressure non-EU countries into taking on Europe’s responsibilities.
This is a system built to fail,” said Pope.
Source : Info Migrants