Poland opposes EU migration pact but majority of member states approve measures

The EU’s proposed migration pact has been approved by a majority of ambassadors representing the 27 member states, despite opposition from Poland. The measures must still pass further hurdles before being finally adopted.

The Polish interior ministry announced yesterday that Poland’s ambassador had “expressed opposition to all legislative acts falling within the scope of the pact”.

“In the opinion of the government of Poland, the solutions provided for in the Pact on Migration and Asylum do not sufficiently address the specific situation of countries bordering Belarus and Russia and which are thus under constant and strong pressure within artificially generated migration routes,” it added.

“Moreover, it was noted that the pact does not strike an appropriate balance between responsibility and solidarity and may therefore potentially constitute an area of ​​dispute between the EU institutions and member states in the future,” concluded the statement.

✅ Komunikat w sprawie Paktu o Migracji i Azylu.https://t.co/8jjq5Mc8il

— MSWiA 🇵🇱 (@MSWiA_GOV_PL) February 8, 2024

The new rules would allow more effective checks on migrants and a faster system for returning failed asylum seekers to their countries of origin. They would also require member states to show “solidarity” with countries on the frontline of migration through financial support or by accepting some migrants.

Whereas the pact has been criticised internationally by some human rights groups for being too harsh on migrants and asylum seekers, in Poland the concern has been over the potential relocation of migrants from frontline member states to elsewhere in the bloc.

The former national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government last year declared strong opposition to such relocations, and claimed that if the more liberal opposition came to power at October’s elections they would allow them to take place.

However, following a change in government after those elections, the head of the new ruling coalition, Donald Tusk, declared that his administration would refuse to accept any relocated asylum seekers under the pact.

„Poland will not accept illegal migrants” under the EU’s proposed migration pact, which includes a relocation mechanism, says PM @donaldtusk.

„We will not accept a single migrant. Poland will never be part of such a mechanism” https://t.co/3Xov85mVN2

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 4, 2024

In its statement yesterday, the interior ministry in Tusk’s government accused PiS of acquiescing to the pact in contradiction to its public stance.

“Contrary to [its] declarations, the previous government, at earlier stages of the negotiations, supported the positions of the Council of the European Union on some legislative acts falling within the scope of the pact or abstained from voting on them,” wrote the ministry.

However, despite Poland’s opposition yesterday, the provisions of the pact were approved by a qualified majority of member states. The EU did not reveal how each representative voted, but the Czech government announced yesterday that it had abstained.

In order to be finally adopted, the measures must now be approved by the European Parliament and by the European Council.

EU member states representatives validate the agreement between @EUCouncil presidency & @Europarl_EN to reform the EU migration & asylum system.
▪️ more solidarity w/ countries where migrants arrive
▪️ more efficient rules to manage asylum applications


— EU Council Press (@EUCouncilPress) February 8, 2024

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Main image credit: CSDP EEAS/Flickr (under public domain)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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