Central Europe remains dead set against mandatory distribution of refugees.
Transitions Online 21 September 2015
Despite mounting pressure from Brussels to take their “fair share” of refugees, foreign ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries meeting in Prague today are set to reject any talk of proposed mandatory EU quotas, saying their countries are “financially and culturally” ill-suited to handling large migrant influxes, The Telegraph reports.
Apart from repeating their opposition to compulsory quotas, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary “will demand the EU makes more effort to weed out economic migrants” and “intend to point out that Eastern Europe is neither financially nor culturally suited to large migrant influxes,” the newspaper says.
Polish Foreign Minster Grzegorz Schetyna told reporters the talks are unlikely to result in a united stance or a joint declaration, as it is a working meeting, CTK reports. But he said the V4 should harmonize their stance ahead of a 23 September extraordinary EU summit on migration.
"We will talk … about how to solve the issue of the refugees, how Europe should protect its borders, and how to distinguish refugees from economic migrants," Schetyna said, according to reports from AFP. "Imposing a quota would be, in my view, against European principles."
His words echo the V4 prime ministers’ joint statement of 4 September calling for “preserving the voluntary nature of EU solidarity measures” and stating that “any proposal leading to introduction of mandatory and permanent quota for solidarity measures would be unacceptable.”
That statement came ahead of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s announcement of plans to redistribute an additional 120,000 asylum seekers, now in Italy, Greece and Hungary, among many more EU nations – with binding quotas – which appears to have been abandoned.
Although in the weeks since, tens of thousands of more migrants and refugees have arrived in the EU, the European Commission’s mathematical “key” on redistribution based on GDP and population size, and other factors is no long under consideration, an EU contact told EUobserver – meaning the mandatory quota idea is "dead."
But French leader Francois Hollande said over the weekend that every EU state must take its fair share – no matter what the technical details of the deal, the news server reports.
“No one can be exempt or we would no longer belong to the same union built on values and principles. We will ensure that this mechanism is effective regardless of its terms, that commitments can be kept and that it's not always the same countries who are receiving the refugees," – French President Francois Holland said.
• The V4 argue effective management of the “root causes” of migration flows is the key, and while the EU action plan from June’s European Council conclusions “provides an adequate basis in this respect” progress on the ground has insufficient.
• Today’s Prague meeting - involving the top diplomats from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, as well as the Luxembourg EU presidency - comes ahead of two days of talks in Brussels between EU interior ministers.
• As well as clashing with the EU's wealthier Western states, the bloc's Eastern European members bickered viciously with each other over the weekend over Hungary's move to erect a new fence around the country's borders, The Telegraph said.
• Thousands more migrants entered Austria over the weekend and more are expected to arrive via Hungary today. Croatia's authorities tweeted that 29,000 had entered its territory by early this morning.
• Eastern European countries are stressing the need to protect the EU's external borders (the Schengen zone) and to distinguish between economic migrants and refugees, according to the BBC's Chris Morris in Brussels.
‘Visegrad 4’ to Reject EU Refugee Quotas, Again