The third meeting of the informal V4 MEPs caucus in the European Parliament took place on Tuesday 26 May 2015 in Brussels. Organized jointly by CEPI and our Polish partner demosEUROPA – Centre for European Strategy, it was chaired by Professor Danuta Hübner (Poland, EPP). Participants included György Schöpflin (Hungary, EPP), Dita Charanzová (Czech Republic, ALDE), Ivan Štefanec (Slovakia, EPP) and Vladimír Maňka (Slovakia, S&D). Minutes of the meeting will be shared with other MEPs who participated in the previous V4 dinners in February 2015 and December 2014.
MEPs discussed the recent Polish presidential and UK parliamentary elections, their impact on Central Europe and a number of other current EU issues relevant to our region. The main theme of the meeting, however, was current migration crisis. It was introduced by Rainer Münz, Senior Adviser at the Erste Group Bank in Vienna. In parallel to the visible crisis in the Mediterranean where people are dying crossing the sea, there is a ‘silent inflow’ of people from Ukraine and other Eastern countries to Poland or Hungary, which are difficult to measure. There is a lack of a uniform way to measure migration across the EU, which makes it difficult to formulate adequate policy measures. Participating MEPs agreed that current system of the EU’s migration policy is dysfunctional, and needs an overhaul. Huge migration flows to the EU will only grow in years to come, and will likely affect also the Visegrad region. Of the V4 countries, Hungary is now the most affected, mostly due to its geographic location on the Schengen border with South-Eastern Europe. On the other hand, several MEPs shared their concern about the blunt refusal of the V4 governments to consider the EU Commission’s proposals for burden-sharing quota system distributing asylum seekers across the EU. This lack of compassion might be very damaging for an overall V4’s reputation at the EU level.
Migration is also likely to be the central theme of the forth-coming EU-UK negotiations. Rather than looking for petty deals with London, it was suggested that the V4 capitals could come up with a more offensive approach to labour mobility, which will be tackled by a new EC initiative later this year.