The Last EU Council of 2018 and MigrationMigration 19 December 2018
The last week in Brussels took place the last European Council of the year. Despite the tragedy happened in Strasbourg, “the show must go on” and the most important actors of the European Union sat on their own seat.
During the entire year, like in March or during the summer and in October, migration have been always one of the most important issue discussed by the European leaders at EU Council meetings. But, nevertheless, no progress has been made.
Many European Countries didn’t sign the United Nation Migration Pact. Moreover, the Belgian government has lost the support of the National Flemish Party and collapsed, because the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, insisted in backing the UN chart.
However, as reported by Politico, also among European National leaders and European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker there have been bad blood. Talking about the reform of the Common European Asylum System, Juncker stated: «On migration I am less happy because the Commission has proposed seven initiatives, five of them are close to agreement but it was not possible to convince colleagues today to adopt these five proposals because there are the two missing elements. […] I must say that this is one area where I am slowly losing my patience. […] This is not something which a president should say to the Council but I did say there is a white elephant in the room and that is hypocrisy. Everyone is urging us and inviting us time and time again to increase the controls at our external borders … which is why we came forth with these new proposals».
Juncker’s frustration also came out clearly at the end of his speech: «I was taken aback to see a certain number of countries, particularly those who are in the front line, are now refusing to even contemplate strengthening our external borders […]. So please never tell me again that we should strengthen our external borders if you don’t implement our proposals».
In the last European Council conclusions it was underlined that «illegal border crossings has been brought down to pre-crisis levels, and that the overall downward trend is continuing». At the same time the European Council also «invites the co-legislators to rapidly conclude negotiations on the European Border and Coast Guard (EBCG)», known as FRONTEX, where some progress was reached expanding the institution to 10.000 employers. Maybe one of the few item where, more or less, all the EU Countries agreed.
In order to better understand Juncker’s feelings, this short pic of the conclusion is very important: «The Council also calls for further efforts to conclude negotiations on the Return Directive, on the Asylum Agency and on all parts of the Common European Asylum System, respecting previous European Council conclusions». Angela Merkel too this summer tried to push to achieve a tangible result on this issue, without being able to move concrete steps forward. Now it seems that also the Commission is losing its temper. Probably, next year, the Common European Asylum System will be one of the most problematic matter to solve.
The Visegrád Bloc positions, the statements of Matteo Salvini, Vox (the raising Spanish populist party), and the events that took place in Belgium few days ago predict that the battle over migration issue will be heavy and bloody.