Poland and Hungary Clash Over Asylum Reform at EU Summit

news 30-Jun-2023 Europe

Poland and Hungary Escalate Dispute Over Asylum Reform

At the EU summit, the issue of asylum and migration policy is once again causing strife. Poland and Hungary are seeking to overturn the recent decision made by EU interior ministers. So far, they have prevented the inclusion of a joint position in the summit's final declaration.

EU Summit: Member States Clash Over Asylum and Migration Policy

Member states continue to argue over asylum and migration policy at the EU summit. Poland and Hungary have, for now, prevented the formulation of a joint position in the summit's final document, as confirmed by diplomats in the early morning hours. The heads of state and government left the council building around 1:30 a.m. without reaching an agreement on a closing statement.

Poland and Hungary Reject Asylum Reform Plans at EU Summit

During the EU summit, Poland called for a revision of the plans for asylum reform, thereby seeking to overturn the decision made by EU interior ministers in early June. The regulation, approved by the majority of EU member states at the time, stipulates that the acceptance of refugees should be mandatory rather than voluntary. Countries that refuse to take in refugees would be required to pay compensation of €20,000 per migrant.

Opposition to Refugee Reception and Compensation Payments

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had already reiterated before the meeting that his country would not participate in the planned distribution of refugees within the EU, nor would it make any compensation payments. The Polish government had expressed a similar stance earlier.

Both countries are thus opposed to the extensive reform plans for the European asylum system, which were set in motion through a majority decision at an EU interior minister meeting nearly three weeks ago. Poland and Hungary were the only states to vote against the proposed distribution of refugees within the EU. The Swedish EU presidency had decided to consider a qualified majority in this vote.

Dispute at the EU Summit Has No Immediate Consequences for Legislation

The dispute at the EU summit does not have immediate consequences for the ongoing legislative process. The compromise on asylum approved by the interior ministers through a majority decision will now proceed to negotiations with representatives from the European Parliament.

Scholz Attempts to Mediate

Poland is now demanding that each EU member state should have the autonomy to decide how it supports countries facing high migration numbers. According to a draft text for the EU summit's closing declaration, obtained by the news agency dpa, the acceptance of asylum seekers should be voluntary.

According to diplomats, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz tried to extract concessions from Poland and Hungary in private discussions. Upon his arrival at the summit, he rejected the Polish and Hungarian calls for renegotiation and described the asylum compromise as a "breakthrough."

Poland Currently Hosting Over One Million Refugees from Ukraine

Poland has currently taken in over one million refugees from Ukraine. However, the country has long refused to accept refugees arriving through Italy or Greece into the EU.

The summit is set to continue at 9:30 a.m. Today's agenda will focus on migration, as well as China and economic matters.

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