After an emergency meeting Friday night, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told Croatian state TV that Serbia will “absolutely” lift its embargo on Croatian goods.
But Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico says his country – which was one of four nations that voted against the plan – will be challenging the deal in European Union courts. “Now these figures have been accepted by member states on a voluntary basis”, he said. EU Migration and Home Affairs CommissionerDimitris Avramopoulos rejected any suggestion that the outcome did more harm than good, insisting that all member states were now on board. And this was confirmed by everyone around the table.
Hungary and its eastern partners oppose the plan because they say Brussels has no right to make them take in thousands of people, and to do so amounts to a violation of their national sovereignty.
A country can appeal if it feels the fundamental principles of its social security or legal systems are under threat.
“I have already said that prime ministers are more than interior ministers”, Zeman said. “Even though the large countries may try to out-vote us today, it will be very hard to fulfil the project”. We would have preferred an adoption by consensus, but we didn’t reach it. It’s not for lack of effort.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Elsaesser, editor-in-chief of the German-based magazine Compact, told RT that the way the quota vote took place, threatens European unity, while it was also a total nonsense in practical terms. A further 54,000 were to have come from Hungary, but it has refused to take part in what it calls an “invitation” to economic migrants.
Denmark was able to opt out of the scheme, but given no alternative option to participate.
It added: “The root causes of the refugee crisis must be addressed”.
The UNHCR is calling for the establishment of facilities capable of receiving tens of thousands of people.
The crisis has raised fears the EU’s cherished Schengen passport-free zone could collapse as countries close their borders to stem the flow of migrants, most of whom head for Germany. Like other opponents, Romania called on the union to regain control of its borders before talking about allocating refugees.
The agreement was reached in Brussels on Tuesday despite fierce opposition from some central and eastern states that deepened rifts over Europe’s worst refugee crisis in decades.
Following Poland’s vote in favour of the quotas, contrasting with other members of the Visegrad Group (V4), some observers have suggested that the regional grouping might be facing a major crisis. In January-July this year 438,000 refugees applied for asylum in the European Union, compared with 571,000 for the whole of 2014.
They also urged more assistance to Syria’s neighbors, which have been overwhelmed by people displaced by the civil war.
But closing the Hungarian border with Croatia will raise another obstacle, and at a minimum slow the traffic, and potentially strand more of the people transiting the Balkans while seeking sanctuary from conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
So the leaders who plan meet for dinner on Wednesday may find the canapé discussions less than polite.