The European Commission is preparing to present a plan that would dramatically change the European migration policy, and although the official proposal has not been presented yet, the countries of Hungary, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, and other EU countries that opposed to migration quotas are expected to defy a plan that is expected to align with the pro-refugee sentiments of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The plan should require each member state to receive several refugees in exchange for €10,000 per admitted individual, according to Czech news portal Idnes.cz. The amount would come from the European Union budget, Reuters reported, referring to diplomats and officials familiar with the proposal.
States that fail to meet the obligations would face litigation and heavy fines, however, the collection of fines takes years.
The plan should also focus on strengthening returns by reducing visas for citizens of countries that refuse to readmit their nationals. The proposal also allegedly wants to support foreign states that manage and control migration flows so that fewer people reach Europe.
According to the proposal, during the the first phase, states could only offer places for migrants voluntarily, or they could commit to assisting directly to the busiest countries such as Greece, Italy, or Spain, however, if 70 percent of asylum seekers from these EU countries are not voluntarily distributed, the “compulsory solidarity” would kick in.
“It is a strong proposal that supports Angela Merkel’s call for EU solidarity. It is a test of Merkel’s political heritage,” said one of the EU’s familiar officials.
Merkel: I would do it again
At a time when Germany was commemorating the fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the migration crisis, Merkel said she would do the same thing now as she did then.
“When people stand on the German-Austrian or Austro-Hungarian border, you have to treat them like human beings,” she stated.
Germany has experienced a substantial surge in crime, sexual assaults, and terrorist attacks that have been tied to migrants, with many of them belonging to the group of refugees that were admitted into the country following the 2015 migration crisis.
States that have rejected migration quotas can be expected to oppose the EU proposal again. The Visegrad Four countries of Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, with the support of Austria, have opposed the compulsory distribution of migrants in the past.
“We cannot accept the paradigm that solidarity is based on mandatory measures, including relocation,” Polish Ambassador to the EU Andrzej Sados wrote in the online daily Euractiv on Monday.
Germany did not want to comment on the proposal until the European Commission officially presents it. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson has previously said that the plan “will not fully satisfy anyone” and therefore has the potential to succeed. According to her, European states are willing to make a compromise that would “improve the situation”.
Germany is frustrated by countries that refuse migrants
The decision to open the German borders and accept hundreds of thousands of refugees has caused great tension on the domestic and foreign political scene. Across Europe, including Germany, parties that opposed migration and refugee reception have performed well in elections.
However, according to some surveys, the German party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has recently lost support. Several German mayors have asked the government to receive refugees from the crowded Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, which was engulfed in flames after migrants set it on fire. On Sunday, thousands of protesters across Germany demanded the reception of migrants with the words “We have space”.
Merkel’s government hesitated for several days before it agreed to take over 1,500 of the 12,000 Moria refugees. According to Reuters, Merkel deliberately waited for other states to join the humanitarian action. So far, however, only nine states have decided to accept child refugees from Greece.
The German weekly Die Spiegel noted that the chancellor, known for her calm, seldom expressed her anger during the call for solidarity. According to lawmakers from the ruling CDU and its Bavarian sister CSU, no one has seen the chancellor so upset for a long time.
The German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer also manifests his frustration, as he has publicly expressed his opposition to Merkel’s migration policy several times in the past. In this case, however, he supported Merkel and criticized the “arrogantly reserved” Scandinavian countries. He was also disappointed at the position of Austria and the Visegrad nations, which have refused to accept migrants from Moria.
These countries have warned that accepting more migrants, especially in a situation where they set their own camp on fire to pressure for relocation, which could incentivize more arsons and potentially trigger another migration wave.
“There is no doubt that Moria was burned by some hyperactive refugees and migrants who tried to blackmail the government by burning Moria down and demanded their immediate relocation from the island,” said Greek Prime Mnister Kyriakos Mitsotakis about the arsons on Lesbos.
Title image: Migrants use a trash bin to move their belongings from the burned Moria refugee camp to a new army-built facility in Kara Tepe on the northeastern island of Lesbos, Greece, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Police on the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday resumed relocating migrants rendered homeless when fires ravaged the country’s largest refugee camp amid a local COVID-19 outbreak. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)