The European Union Summit in Salzburg was supposed to bring leaders together, tackle the Migration crisis and reach consensus. A very difficult task given the fact that Austria that runs the EU’s rotating presidency and its Chancellor Sebastian Kurz have a strong anti-migrants policy.
A few months ago, the Summit was hailed that it would bring breakthrough solutions to Migration crisis.
On Thursday, the EU leaders agreed that they disagree, the discrepancy grew graver and leaders are to climb down the beautiful mountains in North Austria more divided than they came.
The Visegrad states ( Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia) insist on looking away when it comes to asylum-seekers redistribution and their obligations.
Italy and Greece were left alone with their thousands of asylum-seekers and Germany had not much to say due to internal political problems with the rising support towards anti-migration parties.
“The refugee crisis is the central political and ideological issues for the future of Europe and splits Europe into two camps,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said stressing that “Greece is leading the camp that has a vision for Europe and is handling the big problems ahead.”
“Whoever wants Greece to move into the other camp, must think about it very well, realism and logic must reign,” he added.
More and more EU leaders seem to support the so-called “flexible solidarity,” a concept introduced by th V4 group that “should enable member states to decide on specific forms of contribution taking into account their experience and potential. Furthermore, any distribution mechanism should be voluntary.
As they cannot solve the existing problem inside the EU, they now turn to less controversial solutions like strengthening EU external borders with more Frontex and cooperation with North African countries, specifically Egypt, to stop the migrants before set sail to Europe. And combating human smuggling.
All these ‘measures’ is nothing new, we heard about them at the official EU Summit in June.
In a statement after the Summit, European Council President Donald Tusk said:
“The migration debate showed that we may not agree on everything but we agree on the main goal, which is stemming illegal migration to Europe. There was a constructive debate and good atmosphere and we decided to continue our focus on what unites us and what has already brought results. This means strengthening our external borders as well as strengthening cooperation with third countries. Such cooperation should not be just on migration or fighting smugglers and traffickers. It should be about a much broader vision of partnership.”
European Council President Donald Tusk said the leaders have also agreed to attend a summit with their Arab counterparts in February to tackle migration, among other issues.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said all EU leaders backed the plan to engage more with North African Arab countries and noted that Egypt, at least, is “ready to intensify talks with the European Union”.
Kurz said the talks would also focus on economic development, echoing an EU approach with sub-Saharan Africa to ease the poverty that often drives migration.
A quasi new ‘EU Turkey Deal’ with African countries is underway.
Egypt’s foreign ministry confirmed Thursday it has proposed hosting an EU-Arab League summit on a range of issues, including migration, but did not mention a date.
The Cairo-based Arab League includes North African countries Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco as well as those in the Middle East and Gulf.
The only good thing about the Summit in Salzburg was that it was unofficial and no official decisions had to be taken.
Had it be an official Summit the EU would have been exposed for one more time: that it is unable to solve through agreement such a crucial problem.