Hungary and Poland attack agreement on solidarity in migration

by time news

2023-06-09 16:18:22

The governments of Hungary and Poland were the only ones to vote against the agreement and have already promised not to carry out any of the solidarity measures foreseen in the new legislation, approved by a qualified majority.

“Migration is a European challenge. Working together, we can reach a common solution”, said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, in a tweet, about the agreement reached at the Council of the European Union (EU), Thursday, in Luxembourg, on a mandatory solidarity mechanism in the management of migration and asylum.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, also said the agreement represented “a truly great step”.

The vote took place under qualified majority rules and secured a wider margin of support than anticipated, with Italy and Greece, two front-line countries, voting in favour.

Austria, a country that has taken a tough line on migration, also gave its nod. Bulgaria, Czechia, Malta, Lithuania and Slovakia abstained, diplomats with knowledge of the talks told Euronews.

Poland and Hungary do not want to apply the mechanism

In the end, only two countries opposed the dossier: Hungary and Poland.

“Forced relocation does not solve the migration problem, but it violates the sovereignty of member states,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a short tweet on Friday morning.

“Poland will not pay for the mistakes of other countries’ immigration policies.”

His Hungarian counterpart, Viktor Orbán, echoed his criticisms and criticized Brussels for “abusing” its legal powers and imposing the relocation of immigrants – something that, in fact, is not foreseen in the proposal because it will be a voluntary measure.

“This is unacceptable, they want to forcibly turn Hungary into a country of migrants,” said Orbán, according to his spokesman.

Hungarian Deputy Interior Minister Bence Rétvári, who took part in the discussions in Luxembourg, reinforced Budapest’s position, saying the reform would place a “disproportionate burden” on Hungary and encourage the arrival of new migrants.

Rétvári said that “pro-migration governments” had pressured other member states to accept the legislation, making “little regard” for the EU’s decision-making process.

The European Commission insists that the new system is not based on “mandatory relocation”, but rather on “mandatory solidarity”. The reform will offer Member States the option of accepting a certain number of refugees or paying financial compensation to support the costs of processing asylum seekers in the host country upon arrival.

Lack of approval in the European Parliament

The agreement provides that 30,000 people a year who have obtained refugee status can be relocated to an EU Member State other than the one where they arrived. Payments are estimated at €20,000 per person.

“Member States have complete freedom to decide the type of solidarity they contribute. No Member State will be obliged to carry out relocations”, said the Council of the EU, in a statement explaining the outcome of the meeting.

The agreement still needs to be negotiated with the European Parliament, which has a somewhat divergent position on the matter. “We can find a way forward,” said European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

“We can secure our borders and find an approach that is fair and humane with those in need of protection, firm with those who are ineligible, and strong against traffickers who exploit the most vulnerable,” Metsola added.

Swedish MEP omas Tobé, rapporteur for the solidarity mechanism, hailed the progress of the process as “very important news” and said that negotiations would start “as early as next week”. “There is a lot of work ahead of us,” said Tobé.

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