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Visegrád Group Says Migrant Resettlement Should Be Decided by European Council Unanimously

By Tom Szigeti // 2017.06.13.

The interior ministers of the Visegrád Four grouping of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia approved a joint statement on Monday urging the European Union that decisions on the redistribution of migrants should be made unanimously by the European Council rather than at ministerial level.

Speaking after a meeting in Warsaw, Sándor Pintér, Hungary’s interior minister, said that “the Visegrad countries’ voice is heard more and more within the EU as the bloc is readier to adjust to reality than before”.

Pintér said that Hungary is to take the rotating presidency of the Visegrad group in July, and claimed that the government “is going to adhere to our common principles during its term as V4 president.”

The ministers argued that the decision on migrant redistribution among EU member states should be placed in the hands of the European Council, the body comprised of the member states’ heads of state and government. The issue has so far been in the hands of the Council of the European Union, which is composed of member states’ ministers.

Speaking to the press, Polish Minister of the Interior Mariusz Błaszczak argued that a consensual decision process “would be much more desirable in such a delicate issue”.

Reacting to press reports that the European Commission could launch infringement procedures as early as this week against member states that have refused to take in migrants in line with the quota scheme (under the plan, Hungary would take less than 1300 people), Błaszczak was dismissive, claiming that the Visegrád 4 are “aware that the EC has taken to issuing threats”, adding that the countries stand in solidarity with one another.

The Polish politician described the EU’s proposed punitive measures as “unjustified”.  Likewise, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec that EU sanctions would be but “one more reason for the people of the V4 countries to consider the EU’s policies frivolous”.

He claimed the V4 had been active in providing humanitarian assistance to migrants outside the EU’s borders and in protecting the bloc’s external borders.

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák emphasized the unity of the Group, and added that time had shown that the attitude of V4 countries toward the migrant crisis “is very important” within the EU.

Szijjártó: Visegrád Group “United”

In addition, at a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart in Warsaw, Hungary’s Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó emphasized that the V4 “stands united” on the issue of migration.

He also claimed that the quota plan “is unacceptable because it goes against common sense and because it infringes upon EU treaties,” adding that “We take the proposal to tie [the payment of] cohesion funds to our migration policy to be nothing more than common blackmail.”

He also described the European Commission’s objections to Hungary and other V4 countries’ actions to be “political and not legal.”

Szijjártó also said that the four Central European countries share views in this matter, emphasizing that Hungary and Slovakia have filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Justice regarding the quota scheme which Poland backs, as well as the Czech Republic’s stated refusal to participate in the redistribution plan.

Polish Foreign Minister Waszczykowski claimed that mandatory resettlement is “out of date and inhumane,” while arguing that countries refusing to participate in the plan cannot be “punished” with loss of EU funds, as “The two issues are unconnected. Funding is laid down in the EU treaties.”

Via MTI and Hungary Today

Image via MTI