Central European countries want a ‘back-up’ plan to halt migration flows which would be activated if the EU first-option scheme fails. The Extraordinary Summit of the Prime Ministers of the Visegrád Group Countries that was held on 15 February 2016 with participation of the President of Macedonia and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria has highlighted once again the region’s concern about EU’s ability to control its borders. Visegrad countries called for a ‘back-up plan’ that would stop migrants on the borders of Bulgaria and Macedonia in case Turkey fails to manage migration. Despite the tone of doubt with regard to the success of the EU measures to work with Turkey on regulating the movement of people, the V4 expressed their support to the Europe-wide scheme and fell short of breaking away from the rest of Europe. The region’s economy has benefited significantly from the free movement of goods and people, hence the interest to maintain the viable Shengen zone. Germany, and particularly Angela Merkel, has invested a lot of efforts and political capital in preserving the Shengen while offering protection to asylum seekers. Persistant reluctance of the V4 to follow the German lead in migration issues would imply alienating one of the most important partners of the region. The Czechs have the best relations with Germany of all four Visegrád countries, and worked to make sure the summit declaration didn’t alienate Berlin, said Milan Nič, head of the Central European Policy Institute, a Bratislava-based think tank. “The Czechs are trying hard to mend fences with Germany,” he said. But fences are broadly what the region wants. Accomodating these two interests – keeping Germany’s benevolence and ‘fencing off’ asylum seekers – is a challenging, if not forlone task.
Read the full article by Jan Cienski at POLITICO: Central Europe wants to halt migration if EU plan fails.