Afghanistan crisis revives stark divides in EU migration policy

By Dani Rovirosa

Kranj, Slovenia, Sep 1 (EFE).- The Afghanistan crisis and the expected influx of Afghan refugees in Europe has once again unveiled the stark divide among European Union member states and institutions over the bloc’s migration policy.

“We were very disappointed with yesterday’s Home Affairs Council conclusions,” President of the European Parliament, David Sassol, said at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia Wednesday. “We have seen countries outside the European Union come forward to welcome Afghan asylum seekers, but we have not seen a single member state do the same.”

EU ministers of home affairs Tuesday refused to rehash the refugee welcoming system through distribution quotas that the European Commission proposed in 2015 to manage asylum seekers from the Syrian war, but the mechanism failed to take off at the time due to the opposition of several European governments.

The president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has vowed to send 200 million euros in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, while EU member states committed to investing 300 million euros to resettle refugees from Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban retorted Sassoli’s reproval, proudly stating that he was the first to oppose the proposed refugee policy in 2015, and implying he will do so again.

Also Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed “polite disagreement” with Sassoli’s will to welcome Afghan refugees into the EU.

Mitsotakis showed opposition to repeating a scenario like 2015, when refugees entered the EU en masse through Greece, often confined in overcrowded camps in Greek islands.

However, Sassoli argued that “we cannot pretend that the Afghan question does not concern us, because we participated in that mission and shared its objectives and aims.”

The President of the European Council, the institution that represents EU member states, noted that the different outlooks on refugee policy are a reflection of the complex institutional reality of the European project, split between clashing but equally legitimate bodies.

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