The recent approval of a new EU migration pact by interior ministers representing EU member states has drawn criticism from the Polish foreign minister, who argues that it violates the freedom of choice for both migrants and host countries.
The EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council, comprised of interior ministers from EU member states, gave its approval to a draft regulation on migration and asylum. According to the proposed rules, EU member states will be required to accept an initial quota of 30,000 migrants from countries heavily impacted by migration from the Middle East and Africa, such as Greece and Italy. Alternatively, they can choose to pay approximately EUR 20,000 for each non-admitted migrant. Despite objections from Poland and Hungary, the new rules were passed through a majority vote.
During a press conference in Warsaw on Monday, Zbigniew Rau, the Polish foreign minister, expressed his concerns about the migration package. “The proposals outlined in the so-called migration package contradict the two principles that Poland has upheld for years,” Rau stated following a meeting with his Swedish counterpart, Tobias Billstrom.
Rau highlighted the importance of migrants being able to voluntarily select the country in which they seek protection and wish to stay, emphasizing this as a fundamental freedom of choice for migrants. He also stressed the significance of host countries having the freedom to decide their own policies regarding migration. According to Rau, the draft regulation fails to address these principles, resulting in a situation where migrants’ freedom of choice, autonomy, and fundamental right to decide where they want to stay are compromised. Additionally, Rau expressed concerns that the relocation policy outlined in the pact would incentivize further migration.
Rau conveyed his dissatisfaction with the position adopted by the JHA Council regarding the new pact on migration and asylum, describing it as improper. He further argued that the legislative proposals presented would not effectively address the current migration challenges in the EU, but rather complicate the existing system.
The Polish foreign minister also pointed out that Poland has already dedicated over 2 percent of its GDP to aid Ukrainians and highlighted the significant number of people crossing the Polish border since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which stands at around 11 million individuals. Rau concluded that the migration pact remains incomprehensible to the majority of Poles and that it contradicts the values upon which their lives and international relations, particularly within the EU, are based.
The approval of the new EU migration pact has reignited a debate similar to the one in 2015 surrounding migration laws during the migration crisis at that time. Several EU member states, including Poland, refused to accept mandatory relocation quotas, leading to the European Commission launching infringement procedures against them. It should be noted that the pact is yet to be discussed in the European Parliament.