EU summit: Hungary and Poland complicate migration debate

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki did not agree with the joint migration policy at the summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening. They demanded that the EU decide by consensus after a debate was planned.

At the beginning of this month, the European ministers of asylum and migration reached a hard-fought agreement. There will be a new accelerated asylum procedure at the external borders, and all member states will be required to accept or pay a number of asylum seekers for each person they refuse.

At the summit, leaders wanted to applaud "steady progress" on the file since negotiations with the European Parliament are still to follow. The agreement will only be definitive once these have been finalised. However, Poland and Hungary are blocking the adoption of the migration chapter in the summit conclusions. They argue that the member states should decide by consensus in such a sensitive dossier. A qualified majority adopted the political agreement reached at the beginning of June.

According to a diplomatic source, during the debate, Orban revisited the migration crisis of 2015. He argued that the principle of mandatory solidarity that has now been adopted - which makes member states choose between taking in asylum seekers or paying for them - is, in fact, based on required relocation amounts.

European Council president Charles Michel is reportedly working on a new text, but an insider said he would only propose cosmetic changes. He cannot go any further because to get Hungary and Poland on board, he risks losing the support of the other member states.

Without consensus on a text on migration, the entire chapter may disappear from the conclusions.


Prime minister of Hungary Viktor Orban © BELGA

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