Hungary and Poland have rejected a migration pact proposed by the European Union (EU), with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stating that the deal constitutes a legal violation. Orban likened the agreement to a violation, stating that being forced to accept something one does not want makes compromise impossible. The pact, which was approved by EU ambassadors last Wednesday, aims to distribute illegal immigrants across member states on a quota basis. While migrants can be held for longer periods at the EU’s external borders, it also allows for fast-tracking of asylum applications during times of crisis.
Hungary and Poland’s refusal to accept migrant quotas is not new. In 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that both countries had violated EU law by declining to take in migrants during the 2015 migration crisis. The new pact is expected to be more strictly enforced, with member states facing fines of €20,000 ($21,170) for each migrant they refuse to accept. This provision, which Hungary and Poland object to, was included in the agreement.
Orban has criticized the EU’s approach, accusing it of attempting to forcibly relocate migrants to Hungary and turn the country into a migrant destination. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also voiced opposition to the migration pact, emphasizing the importance of his country’s security in rejecting non-EU immigration.
European Commissioner Ylva Johansson recently reported that around 250,000 illegal entries occurred in the EU in 2023, with approximately half of them arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean Sea. This represents the highest number of illegal entries in a single year since the peak of the 2015 migration crisis. The issue of immigration has resulted in clashes between member states, with recent friction arising when Italy criticized Germany for funding rescue ships that bring migrants to its shores. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell cautioned last month that immigration could potentially weaken the European Union.
The disagreement between Hungary, Poland, and the EU on the migration pact points to a larger issue within the bloc. It exposes the challenges of finding a consensus on migration policies that satisfy all member states. As the influx of migrants continues to rise, it is vital for the EU to address these divisions and work towards a unified approach that balances humanitarian concerns with the security and sovereignty of individual member states. Failure to do so could further strain relations and potentially undermine the cohesion of the European Union.