econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 19 October 2016

The Ability To Enforce Mandatory Migrant Quotas Is Slipping Out Of The EU's Grasp

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Igor Merheim-Eyre, University of Kent

Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban seems to have mastered the art of creating controversy. On October 2, Hungarians voted in a referendum on the European Union's planned relocation of refugees around the bloc, a move described in Brussels as a way to offer solidarity in the wake of an unprecedented number of people reaching Europe by sea.

While not enough people voted in the referendum for the result to be valid, 98% of those who did supported the rejection of the quotas, representing a significant moral win for Orban's "cultural counter-revolution". At the same time, the referendum showed that the migration issue is merely a tool in a much wider battle about the future of where power lies between Brussels and EU member states.

There's no doubt that the migration crisis has had a visible impact on Hungary. At the height of the crisis in summer 2015, some 10,000 refugees and migrants traversed Hungary daily, sleeping en masse at Budapest's Kelety train station as they waited for transport to Western Europe. Day and night, streams of people seeking a new life in Europe passed through homogenous towns and villages of Western Hungary. Since then, however, the Western Balkans route and Hungary's southern border with Serbia (where the majority of the crossings took place) have been sealed. Only a handful of asylum seekers are processed every day despite a capacity to process around 100 applications.

The EU's controversial deal with Turkey on a "refugee swap" has now also come into effect, leading to both a significant drop in crossings across the Aegean Sea, and the number of lives lost at sea. The average number of daily crossings since the deal came into effect on March 18 fell from 1,740 to 94 by mid-September.

But despite the question Orban put to Hungarians in the referendum, there are two reasons why it was irrelevant to the migration debate. First, the EU's relocation scheme has so far been very slow, and shows no short or medium-term capacity for expanding. At the moment there are more than 63,000 refugees waiting for relocation from Greece alone, with an additional 100,000 people awaiting relocation. Under the quota scheme Hungary was obliged to take 1,294 asylum seekers, which is actually slightly lower than the 1,583 the EU had managed to relocate across the EU under the EU-Turkey deal by mid-September. Safe to say, at the current rate, it would take years for Hungary to receive all 1,294 refugees.

Viktor Orban votes in the referendum on migrant quotas. Szilard Koszticsak/EPA

Second, the debate in Brussels and across Europe's capitals has already moved beyond mandatory quotas. The European Commission has actually shown surprising willingness to negotiate on the issue.

From conversations I've had in Brussels, it appears the commission has been silently dropping the "mandatory" aspect of the relocation quotas, while proposing more flexible forms of solidarity between the member states, including providing financial support for the maintenance of refugees in other EU states or lowering the quota numbers. Even the commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, recently stated that solidarity must be given voluntarily, rather than being uniformly imposed from Brussels. To this end, in the wake of the referendum, the commission has tried to "appease" Hungary, increasing European Investment Fund support for small Hungarian rural firms by €160m.

Poland and Hungary on their own

But petty cash is hardly sufficient for Orban, nor is he willing to negotiate. Formerly a staunch liberal, he has become a crusader for a new form of Europe based on, in his own words, a "system of national cooperation" - in contrast to a more federalist view of Europe. Orban positions himself as a defender of Christendom, protecting its borders against foreign invaders, much as the Hungarian kings of the 16th and 17th century did against the Ottomans.

It is a mythical image, but one that also has the ears of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the grey cardinal of Polish politics who is chairman of its ruling Law and Justice party. In the eyes of both men, Europe's Brussels-centric liberal era is over, and it's time gravity was shifted back to European capitals. This conveniently ignores the fact that in Brussels it is essentially the member states that ultimately call the shots, not the supranational European Commission.

Orban's and Kaczynski's "cultural counter-revolution" is more defined by what it stands against, than what it stands for. Ultimately, it is battling against two Bs: Brussels and Berlin. Falsely or not, in their eyes, Brussels represents "an ever closer union" that may one day lead to a federal EU that will eat away the sovereignty of its member states. Berlin, on the other hand, means Merkel to Orban (his staunch critic and one blamed for the migration crisis) and Germany to Kaczynski - Poland's old nemesis whose tremendous economic power he ultimately fears. So Merkel's open-door policy on refugees and calls for solidarity and burden-sharing among member states merely made the mandatory quotas a perfect target for these two reactionaries.

Visegrad grumbles

Such world views do not sit comfortably with the other two members of the Visegrad Group: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. While all four countries voted against the mandatory quotas in the Council of Ministers, and both Prague and Bratislava criticised the proposals, they trod a much more careful line. For example, while the Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, was very quick to tell a domestic audience that Slovakia was no place for Muslims, the country is silently implementing voluntary relocation for refugees. Given that the current Slovak EU presidency sought European unity of action as one of its top priorities, the Hungarian referendum is merely an additional headache rather than an opportunity.

This means that while Hungary's referendum may have a wider raison d'etre, it does nevertheless also have more indirect consequences. By holding the referendum, Orban narrowed the parameters for dialogue on possible alternatives for how to relocate refugees. The referendum will merely add further divisions to an already fractured EU.

So in terms of providing an instrument for Orban's counter-revolution, the referendum has succeeded. Rather than a humiliating defeat, it ensures that the spectre of Orban will haunt Europe for years to come.

The ConversationIgor Merheim-Eyre, Doctoral Researcher, University of Kent

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Problem With Obamacare Is That It Did Little To Reduce Overall Healthcare Spending
Joan Robinson’s Critique of Marginal Utility Theory
News Blog
The Last Bucket Catch
Joe Sixpack's Situation in 3Q2016: The Average Joe Is Better Off
Why Are Some People More Delinquent On Loans Than Others? - Part 1
Gravity Returns To San Francisco Housing Market
Violent Bond Selloff: An Eye-Opening Perspective
Infographic Of The Day: Identity Theft: You Should Be Worried
Early Headlines: Russia Hacked GOP, Trump To Drain Energy 'Swamp'?, New Sec'y Of State Candidate, India IP Shrinks, India Has World's New Largest Solar Plant , China GDP Hides Volatility And More
Most Coup Attempts In Recent Years Have Failed
The Global Cost Of Diabetes
The Universities Churning Out The Most Billionaires
Five Amazing Ways Plants Have Created New Technologies
Where U.S. Weekly Wages Go The Furthest
What We Read Today 09 December 2016
Investing Blog
The New Art Of Utility Investing
Investing,com Weekly Wrap-up 09 December 2016
Opinion Blog
Trickle-down Economics, Trump Edition
Looking At Everything: Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
Precious Metals Blog
Silver Prices Rebounded Today: Where They Are Headed
Live Markets
09Dec2016 Market Close: Wall Street Closes On A New High, Trump Sugar High, Crude Prices Testing Resistance, US Dollar Melts Higher
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved