The so-called refugee quotas proposed seven years ago were an attempt by the German government to escape from its own incompetence. Then Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately refused to close Germany’s borders to the hundreds of thousands of migrants who had flocked to the country via Hungary and Austria.
With the help of opposition from the Visegrád Four, the quotas proposal failed that time, but they are now being implemented without much resistance and without attention. Despite initial protestations from a coalition of nations led by Italy, the opposition collapsed at the last minute and only Hungary and Poland ended up voting against the plans. Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan voted in favor.
The quotas are only one part of a major reform of the European Union’s asylum law, and such reforms have been intensively discussed since the 2015 migrant crisis. The approved proposal is based on the principle of less illegal, irregular immigration, and more legal migration.
Detention centers at the EU’s external borders should serve to deter illegals. The purpose of the centers is to not let asylum seekers who come from “conflict-free” countries enter Europe, but there will be no way to deport them from Europe even if their applications are rejected.
Critics fear these detention centers will be like a prison; however, the new plans state that an initial assessment on an individual’s asylum application should not take longer than 12 weeks.
The majority of asylum seekers will pass through this first hurdle, and so, the question arises, what to do with them? The interior ministers agreed last week that at least 30,000 applicants per year will be resettled from overburdened member states such as Italy or Greece to less burdened member states. This is the minimum, while there is no maximum for so-called relocations.
Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan is now selling the fact that an EU member state will be able to pay a minimum of €20,000 to refuse an asylum seeker. Rakušan described it as “solidarity without mandatory quotas.”
During a crisis like the one just eight years ago, the Czech interior ministry decided to accept about 2,700 refugees. If this crisis of biblical proportions were to repeat itself, Prague could reject the new arrivals for a fee of around €54.6 million or 1.3 billion crowns.
But there is no upper limit, and with mass immigration to Europe increasing at a frightening pace, Czechia could theoretically incur hundreds of millions in liabilities every year.