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Feb 27, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

You have the right to know: Brussels and the never-ending story of the migrant quota

On Monday, the European Commission issued a response to the government’s communication to Hungarian citizens that “everyone has a right to know what Brussels is planning.” The Commission response was published online in Hungarian as “Facts about the EU’s migration policy” and features an illustration (again in Hungarian) that says “You also have a right to know what is fact and what is fiction.”

With their facts, they make our point for us.

When we began raising these points last week, our communiqué clearly touched a nerve among Brussels eurocrats, and they came out swinging. The statement issued on Monday was, I suppose, intended to refute our government’s points, but their response was telling and often reinforces our argument, particularly on the point of the migrant quota.

They try to claim ‘migrant quota? What migrant quota?’ but take a close look at what the Commission in fact says.

Monday's “fact” sheet says innocuously that current EU rules “do not contain any mandatory quota” but acknowledges that the modification of the current rules has been under discussion for some time, and then the European Commission says this: 

“The Commission considers that it could be expected of every member state to show solidarity with the others.”

Uh oh. Then it gives an example: Already in 2016, in the Commission’s original recommendation, they included a possibility whereby the member states could make financial contributions instead of receiving asylum seekers.

Thank you for making our point for us. That’s precisely what we’re talking about. And it becomes clear not only in this latest statement but in many others as well.

“To coordinate European efforts in the long term,” according to a text recently published on their official website, “the Commission has proposed to set up a permanent Union Resettlement Framework”.

On January 15, 2019, the Brussels migration commissioner confirmed this intention. “We are all committed to establishing a truly European solidarity mechanism,” Dimitris Avramopoulos said. By now, we should all know that “solidarity” in Commission speak is a euphemism for imposing resettlement quotas.

Almost four years ago, at the height of a migration crisis that will surely appear in history books, the story of the migrant quota began with a motion in the European Parliament. It called on the European Commission to “to establish a binding quota for the distribution of asylum seekers among all the Member States”. According to the original idea, this, of course, would have withdrawn Member States’ sovereign rights to determine who gets to pass through their borders.

A month later, in May 2015, the European Commission adopted the European Migration Strategy, which referred to a “temporary distribution scheme” in order “to ensure a fair and balanced participation of all Member States”. In May 2016 the European Commission presented its proposal for the reform of the Dublin system: an automatic distribution mechanism with no upper limit on numbers, bundled with a stiff 250,000 EUR fine per immigrant on any Member State that refuses to comply with the rules. That’s the solidarity that the Brussels eurocrats were referring to in yesterday’s statement.

Since then the automatic, unlimited resettlement quota scheme has become a standard in Brussels, a point of reference. Following an EP vote in 2017 that reinforced the idea, permanent resettlement surfaced again in an EC factsheet last fall. It read: “the European Parliament and the Council should agree soon on the Commission proposal for a Union Resettlement Framework”.

In Brussels’ view, as we learn from a document published last December, an EU resettlement quota “will help reduce irregular migration by ensuring safe and legal alternatives. It will replace the current ad-hoc schemes and set EU-wide two-year plans for resettling genuine refugees.”

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be by now: Brussels is not focused on stopping migration. In fact, they want to legalize it. Europe’s citizens have a right to know.