14 EU Nations Agree on Migrant Deal With Germany, But Not Everyone Is Pleased
Last Friday, 14 members of the European Union (EU) said they had reached an agreement with Germany over the return of asylum seekers. The countries included are Portugal, Sweden, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Estonia.
Austria, led by anti-immigrant hardliner Sebastian Kurz, is not on the list.
According to the Dublin Convention, asylum seekers must request asylum in the first E.U. nation they arrive, which can place an increased burden on countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Merkel’s political future is at stake following the conflict with the Christian Social Union Party. The party’s leader and also German’s Minister of Interior Horst Seehofer, has repeatedly put pressure on Merkel to shut down the border for refugees and newcomers, the move that might likely undermine her government.
What’s in the deal?
One of the points in the agreement is the establishment of control centers to process asylum seekers, even though the details of establishing such centers and where was not specified. However, France, Germany, Italy and Austria said they had no immediate plans to open such a center.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stated he was satisfied with the accord reached by the 28-nation bloc. He added that Rome would decide whether the country, with its strong stance against immigrants under the populist government, will voluntarily set up that center.
“We are satisfied. It was a long negotiation but from today Italy is no longer alone,” Conte told the press after the long hour talks in Brussels.
Italy, Greece, and Spain are among the heavily trafficked first-arrival countries for immigrants and asylum seekers seeking better lives in Europe.
On the same day, Friday, that EU nations reached the deal, Italy prevented a migrant rescue boat operated by Proactiva Open Arms NGO from docking at its ports, their third refusal this month. Italy’s Minister of Interior, anti-immigrant radical Matteo Salvini, said that the arrival of the ship would harm public order. Spain later allowed the vessel to dock in Barcelona.
The agreement said that the E.U. would provide financial assistance to Morocco and Turkey to block migrants from leaving for Europe and will tighten the E.U.’s external border. The E.U. will also help African states such as Niger, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to build processing centers.
But other EU nations denied reaching the common goals
Hungary and the Czech Republic snubbed the report that they had reached an agreement with Germany over the painstaking migrant issue.
“No such deal has been reached,” Zoltan Kovacs, spokesman for the Budapest administration said.
Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis stressed that there was no deal reached with Berlin.
“This alarming news is complete nonsense. Germany did not approach us, and in this moment I would not ratify such an agreement,” Babis stated.
The deal is not flawless after all
Aid organizations have slammed the deal for blocking rescue workers from saving the most vulnerable.
“The only thing European states appear to have agreed on is to block people at the doorstep of Europe regardless of how vulnerable they are, or what horrors they are escaping,” Medicine Sans Frontier (MSF) emergency chief Karline Keijer said.
Despite the positive response from some E.U. leaders for jointly tackling the migrant crisis, others chastised the agreement for being short on details.
“I would conclude that we can’t really call this a breakthrough,” Kert Valdaru, an Estonian migration expert, said. The solution found in the EU leaders’ meeting included something for everyone, but is really too focused on giving every head of government something to show for themselves. It would be difficult to implement,” Valdaru said.