The EU”s bid to reform its migration policy has been met with mixed reactions from a number of countries with Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic outright opposing it.
Zoltan Kovacs, the spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said on Twitter the country’s stance on migration “has been clear and unchanged” since 2015.
“We must ensure that the external borders of the EU and the Schengen Area remain perfectly sealed along all section.”
“Though it appears under a different name in the European Commission’s new package of proposals on migration and asylum, the migrant quota is still there, and Hungary opposes it, along with Poland and the Czech Republic,” he added.
The Commission’s proposed migration pact was unveiled on Wednesday and aims to streamline the migration and asylum process with faster screening. Member states will have to contribute their “fair share” based on their GDP ad population with those reticent to welcoming migrants and asylum seekers expected to help out in other ways.
Following the unveiling of the pact, leaders of the four countries making up the Visegrad group — Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland — met with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Czech President Andrej Babis also emphasized on Twitter after the meeting that “the protection of Europe’s border and the cessation of illegal migration” must be the main components of the bloc’s migration pact.
“I was also supported by the prime ministers of Hungary and Poland. What pleases me is that the proposal no longer includes mandatory quotas,” he went on.
Austria, which like Budapest has championed a restrictions immigration policy, has been more nuanced.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the Commission “has already moved a lot in our direction — especially in the areas of repatriations, protection of external borders and co-operation with third countries.”
“One thing is clear: the mandatory distribution of migrants has failed and has no future in the European Union.
“The Austrian asylum system is already more than strained. I will continue to work to ensure that this is taken into account in the upcoming negotiations,” he continued.
Earlier this year, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Budapest, Warsaw and Prague broke the law by refusing to take in refugees. The ECJ also found that Hungary’s policy of keeping asylum seekers in so-called transit zones amounts to detention.
The European Court of Human Rights also repeatedly ordered Hungary to stop depriving food to an asylum seeker held in a transit zone.