The ongoing and bitter dispute between the EU and its Eastern European member states — countries such as Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic — that have refused to take in migrants as part of the EU’s quota system, might be approaching some sort of compromise. In an internal document circulated to EU interior ministers in Brussels in early December, Reuters reported, EU member states that refuse to host migrants in their countries could be exempted from doing so, if instead they show “alternative measures of solidarity.” According to diplomats, these “alternative measures” are apparently EU code for “paying into the EU budget or paying toward development projects in Africa”.
“The document,” Reuters noted, “said the European Union would need a proper mechanism to avoid a situation in which all EU governments opted to pay their way out of any hosting responsibilities and would set an eight-year period for any arrangements”.
Already in October, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani had said that EU countries who refused to host refugees could instead pay more for EU migration and development projects in Africa. “No relocation – (then) more money for Africa,” Tajani said.
“We cannot force (others to take in refugees),” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said in October, “but those that do not do so must possibly contribute in another way such as… in Africa. Everyone needs to take on some of the responsibility that we all have” .