Old squabbles over EU’s migration policy
What does the blockade of the EU migration reform by the Visegrád countries mean for the EU and how can it be overcome?
by Niklas Hintermayer
In September 2020, the European Commission proposed a long overdue reform of the EU migration and asylum system. The core points of the “Pact on Migration and Asylum” concern better integrated border management with compulsory pre-entry screening of refugees, deeper cooperation with the countries of origin and a new “constant solidarity” mechanism. However, old conflicts resurfaced in the framework of the negotiations of the EU member states so far: the Visegrád states reject the legislative proposal. The countries refer, among other things, to necessary “hotspots” for refugees outside the EU and corresponding agreements with third countries. Already in the context of the 2015 migration crisis, these countries (with the exception of Poland) voted against the mandatory relocation of refugees across member states. In the following years, the relocation mechanism did not work. But here lies one of the greatest chances of agreement for the new reform. After all, the “Pact on Migration and Asylum” provides for more flexible options for joint solidarity. The reform-minded EU states around Germany and France must successfully communicate this to the Visegrád Group.
1 The reform-minded EU member states must take into account the great influence of the Visegrád countries in migration policy. The Visegrád Group is concerned with making visible national and subregional interests in the legislative process.
2 It is important to consider conflict as a normal part of the negotiation process. Within this framework, compromises will be needed, as well as a clear line of reform-minded countries insisting on humanitarian migration and asylum policies.
3 The new solidarity mechanism must not be watered down in the legislative process and, above all, must not include a mandatory refugee distribution mechanism. Instead, this must remain one of several options for member states to fulfill their responsibilities. This is the only chance to get the Visegrád countries to agree.