On Thursday, EU leaders gathered in Brussels to bring their positions on the EU migration policy closer and open the way to agreement over its reform by June 2018. The summit exposed remaining differences, with the majority of members, including Germany, opposing the Eastern European members’ demand to phase out refugee quotas. European Council President Donald Tusk, for his part, said ahead of the meeting that the quotas were ineffective as a measure and highly divisive.
“My first intention is to find …. a consensus among all 28 [EU member states]. I have also no doubts that countries from my region [Eastern Europe] should be more ready to demonstrate solidarity in practice. This is something especially important for me, personally, because solidarity was a kind of brand for Poland. And I will be really disappointed if my country becomes an example of something completely different,” Tusk said at a press conference.
Tusk reiterated that “mandatory quotas are for sure very important but this is not a solution to the problem,” while the European Union needed “an effective method to stop or at least reduce the illegal influx of migrants to Europe.” However, the EU official said he hoped to convince his counterparts both from Poland and the European Union to find common ground, adding that the progress on the issue would be assessed next March and the leaders still planned to make a decision on the migration reform by June.
Tusk was Poland’s prime minister until 2014, when he was chosen to head the Council. He was a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform political party, currently the largest opposition group in Poland.
The system of mandatory relocation quotas, introduced in 2015 amid the migration crisis, has deeply divided the European Union, with the Visegrad group states — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — rejecting the quotas and criticizing the open door policy promoted by the EU core.