Greek European Parliament deputies as well as various parliamentary groups are up in arms over a paper sent by European Council President Donald Tusk to all EU leaders, calling into question the refugee burden sharing scheme.
In his paper, Tusk wrote, “Only member-states are able to tackle the migration crisis effectively. The EU’s role is to offer its support in all possible ways…The issue of mandatory quotas has proven to be highly divisive, and the approach has turned out to be ineffective,” Tusk said.
That position immediately triggered an enormous backlash, with Greece, Italy, and Spain, who have borne the brunt of the crisis leading the charge, but Germany and Sweden were also critical.
On the part of the European Commission, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos ripped into Tusk, charging that he has reversed all that he supported in the past.
“The paper prepared by Mr. Tusk is unacceptable. It is anti-European, and it ignores all the work we have done during the past years, and we’ve done this work together,” Avramopoulos said. This paper is undermining one of the main pillars of the European project, the principle of solidarity.
Syriza’s Europarliament deputy and parliament vice-president Dimitris Papadimoulis lambasted Tusk. “What is divisive is not the mandatory quotas, but the text itself,” he said, asserting that when he read the paper he thought it was written by [the Polish right-wing party leader Jaroslaw] Kaczynski or [right-wing Hungarian PM Viktor] Orban. Papadimoulis said that Greece and Italy cannot be turned into “warehouses for souls”.
Independent European Parliament deputy Notis Marias called for the abolition of the Dublin III treaty, and its replacement with measures that will bolster solidarity, and not turn countries of first reception into convenient scapegoats.
Ska Keller, who co-chairs the Green Group in the European Parliament, lashed out at Tusk: “It is unacceptable to support reactionary countries such as Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Without a just distribution of refugees, European asylum policy will be susceptible to crises. As Council President, Tusk must exert every effort to solve the solidarity crisis among member-states, without aggravating it.
Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe group in the European parliament was epigrammatically angry, saying he was “truly shocked” by the Tusk paper.