Migrant policy deadlock
On June 24, German chancellor Angela Merkel joined European Union leaders at an informal meeting in Brussels a bid to break a deadlock on migration policy ahead of the June 28-29 summit of European heads of state. The leaders of France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Malta, Bulgaria, Belgium and the Netherlands also attended (Reuters).
There was consensus over tightening borders and supporting non-EU countries financially, as well as implementing measures to prevent people from reaching Europe’s borders.
But a European agreement on internal migration policies and the allocation of refugees seems unlikely.
“That is why there will be bilateral and trilateral agreements, how can we help each other – not always wait for all 28 members but think about what is important to whom,” said Merkel after the meeting.
“I think this meeting gave hope,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. “I think there we found more points of agreement than of disagreement. There is still a lot of work to be done.”
Merkel faces pressure from figures in her coalition partner, Germany’s conservative Christian Social Union, to find a bloc-wide deal on migrant allocation or introduce tougher controls at the German border.
The EU’s 2015 Agenda for Migration provided a legal route for asylum-seekers to move from entry countries to other EU member-states; relocation. Migrants arriving in Greece and Italy could apply for asylum in other EU member states and be moved there, but this only applied to “nationalities of applicants with an EU-wide [asylum]-recognition rate of 75% or higher”.
The EU Commission has set out quotas for each country based on GDP, population size, unemployment rates and the number of asylum seekers already hosted. Some member states are far from fulfilling their obligations, shifting the burden to the rest of the EU. Hungary and Poland have yet to relocate a single asylum seeker and the Czech Republic has relocated only 12.