Guest article

Contribution for Carnegie Europe

Judy Asks: Is Central Europe Destroying EU Solidarity?

 

My answer:

The countries of the Visegrád Group—the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia—proposed the idea of flexible solidarity at an informal EU summit in Bratislava on September 16. By saying that Central and Eastern European countries are destroying solidarity, Western European politicians mean that these countries don’t want to participate in the European Commission’s relocation scheme for migrants. But, Visegrád leaders argue, member states should help deal with the refugee crisis according to their experience and capacity, and participating in the relocation scheme is not the only way.

The Central European position reflects not a lack of solidarity but a refusal to accept a dangerous idea. By redistributing refugees according to quotas, the EU sends an invitation to the masses who are heading toward Europe. Furthermore, the system mostly works only in theory. Just look at the example of Latvia: of the 23 refugees relocated to the country under the scheme, almost every single person has already moved to Germany.

The most up-front statements regarding migration come from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who emphasizes the importance of securing the EU’s external border. Orbán wants to stop immigration, while the European Commission wants only to organize it. The fundamental difference between the proposed solutions comes from that contradiction. Threatening Central and Eastern European states with the suspension of EU funds and treating them as second-class members doesn’t help unity either.

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