EU Quarter Wars: Avramopoulos and Timmermans attack Tusk on migration quotas

EPA-EFE/ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

Refugees wait for transport after they arrived on the ferry 'Nissos Samos' from Lesvos island at the port of Piraeus, Greece, 11 December 2017.

Avramopoulos: “Tusk wants to revise quotas on migrants? It is anti-European”


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otMigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos spoke out against the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, in what seems to be the start of the “Rue de la Loi wars” in snowy Brussels.

According to the Guardian’s exclusive piece, Tusk’s attached background note to the letter he sent to the EU-28 heads of state and government ahead of the 14-15 December, puts aside the mandatory relocation quotas mechanism that is that basis of the bloc’s migration strategy. Tusk suggests that the strategy proved to be unsuccessful, as member states such as Hungary and Poland have used this rhetoric to form a more eurosceptic profile. The Council president wants to review the redistribution mechanism for asylum seekers in member countries, while the European Commission reacted strongly to Tusk’s ideas.

Tusk hypothesis – at this point – to put aside the mechanism of mandatory quotas for the redistribution of asylum seekers, “is unacceptable”. This was stated by Migration Commissioner Avramopoulos. The text of Tusk, he stated from Strasbourg, “is anti-European and undermines the principle of solidarity”. According to the Commissioner, the text ”ignores the work we have done together in recent years”.

“I am in total disagreement” with Tusk, added Avramopoulos, as the task of Tusk as a President of the European Council, “is to work for unity: we must be together and not feed anti-EU positions”. According to Avramopoulos, quotas work, as “90% of the people with the requirements – he underlined – have been relocated”.

Timmermans to Tusk: I disagree on relocations

“It’s not true they do not serve,” said the First Vice-president of the Commission Frans Timmermans, on quotas, supporting Avramopoulos’ opinion against Tusk.  “I disagree with the statement that the relocations are not served”, he said, echoing the European Parliament president Antonio Tajani’s request to maintain a role for the EU legislators in the Dublin reform: “What belongs to the co-legislator should not be left to the member states”, said Timmermans.

Tusk’s thoughts are not new but have been tabled by the Estonian presidency

However, it seems that the EU Council president is not tabling something new but comes second, after Estonia’s rotating presidency. Just a couple of weeks ago, senior diplomats have confirmed to Brussels press corps that Estonia had put forward a plan that would require all countries to give some form of support to member states overwhelmed by an influx of migrants, halting the mandatory relocation quotas in the first phases of a response. The proposal stated instead that there should be a mutual agreement between the frontline member state and the new host member state that would relocate the refugees.

According to what Estonian spokesperson of the presidency Jüri Laas said two weeks ago, the proposal was a “fair, balanced and workable compromise”, as it “puts even more emphasis on prevention, making all efforts to avoid reaching the crisis stages in the first place”. The paper tabled by the Estonians was giving precise numbers based on population data per member state.

EU Quarter Wars: Heated discussion at Berlaymont briefing

“Migration policy is not about money and borders, it is a holistic approach covering responsibility and solidarity, said European Commission’s chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas after Avramopoulos’ quotes. Tusk’s note on migration for the European Council “only partly reflects the comprehensive nature of the EU collective approach”, adds the chief spokesperson.

According to the Commission, “returning to a pre crisis mode of isolated uncoordinated national actions is not an option.” Trying to drop the volume and de-politicise the fight, Schinas added that “there is no dispute, no dramatisation, each before the Council recalls its positions,” regarding Tusk’s letter and Avramopoulos’ reply.

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