Monica Frassoni, Co-Chair of the European Green Party, comments on the outcome of yesterday’s extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council, and on the informal summit of EU leaders that is taking place today.
“We welcome the fact that a large share of Council members voted in favour of an increased relocation of refugees among the EU member states, in light of the humanitarian emergency that is unfolding in Europe, with people fleeing war and in desperate need of protection. We also welcome the fact that the Council has finally stopped its hesitations by deciding to pursue a qualified majority vote, that in-effect overcomes some countries’ opposition to refugee relocation. It is evident that the Council’s self-imposed insistence on reaching unanimity for important decisions is a major hinder to the EU’s ability to take action. This is true not only on migration issues, but also on crucial EU competences, such as climate, energy, taxation and economic governance.
“On another note, we are appalled by the fact that Hungary has been able to let its soldiers fire on unarmed people and criminalise border crossings, without any reaction from the EU. The Greens have long denounced Hungary’s lack of respect towards rule of law and human rights, and the current situation is also a consequence of not having intervened in the past. We call upon the European Parliament to adopt a strong position in this regard, and to take appropriate action in the framework of the EU Treaties.
“Today’s progress will not mute our shout that more needs to be done, as a provisional relocation mechanism that spans over just two years will not even come close to tackling this difficult situation. Recent figures report that hundreds of thousands of refugees will continue to arrive in the EU within a few weeks. Today, we ask to the European Council to address the matter seriously and to not limit the discussion to external border management. Helping refugees in Europe and in Syria’s neighbouring region is not a trade-off: both these points should play a part in what is a “bigger-picture” approach, based on post-Dublin mechanisms, a road map for re-opening borders and legal channels for migration into the EU. Refugees should be able to work and make a contribution to their host country from ‘day one’, and the right to asylum should be defended in the so deemed ‘safe countries’.
“Finally, we today call on EU leaders to refrain from drawing the wrong military conclusions when it comes to the present refugee crisis, and to address the unresolved issue of Assad’s regime with diplomacy. Additional military intervention against IS from Europe will not hold back the refugees”.