The Brief: You pay to make ‘em stay

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter

The EU’s migration pact with Turkey is one of the few successes in the bloc’s attempts to move together on migration.

It’s far from an ideal solution – President Erdogan is not known as a benevolent defender of human rights – but promising to pay his government €6 billion has stemmed the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe to the tune of nearly 90%, allowing many an EU prime minister to sleep more easily.

The Commission wants to export its ‘pay to make ‘em stay’ model to African countries. Managing migration control is one of the EU’s priorities in the renegotiation of the Cotonou Agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific community that will start in August.

Yet just two years after being brokered, the EU-Turkey pact is suddenly under threat. According to media reports this week, officials from Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland expressed their opposition to contributing further funds in a letter to European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker.

They say the Commission should cover the next tranche of €3 billion. In its proposal to governments on March 14, the EU executive offered to provide €1 billion, with national treasuries paying the other €2 billion.

Two Commission spokespersons were wheeled out to dead-bat questions on whether the EU budget can be tapped if the Turkey-6 refuse to pay up.

This has become an unfortunate trend by national leaders: blame the EU for failing to put together a coherent policy on migration, and then, when a common deal is obtained, refuse to pay your share when the bill arrives.

The EU-Africa Emergency Trust Fund, set up after a November 2015 summit in Valletta, where leaders wrung their hands about the costs of housing refugees, was a case in point.

Leaders proudly trumpeted the €1.8 billion pot, co-financed by member states and the EU executive. In fact, EU governments coughed up less than €100 million for the fund – about 10% of their share. On several occasions last year, the Commission warned that the Trust Fund was on the brink of running out of cash.

In this game of poker, Turkey (and, indeed, all migrant ‘buffer’ states) holds the best cards.

Insiders say the EU’s reluctance to enforce two European Court of Justice rulings about Morocco and its annexation of the disputed Western Sahara is, in part, borne out of fear that Rabat might decide to unleash the would-be migrants on Europe.

The confidence of the likes of Turkey and Morocco is justified. The summer months tend to be marked by a surge in the number of migrant journeys from the Middle East and North Africa. Europe – whether the Commission or member states – will almost certainly cough up.

The Roundup

Nothing is right about women’s rights in Poland, activists argue. Tens of thousands of people hit the streets of Poland to protest against imposing further restrictions on abortion laws.

With the Hungarian elections ahead on the weekend, Prime Minister Orbán is set to win a third consecutive term in office after a rocky campaign. The ‘Victator’ is getting some help from an American pal.

Despite the hope that Serbia appears to be moving closer towards resolving relations with its former province of Kosovo, though talks are ahead.

The Baltics are gearing up against their fear from the east. To make a deterrence credible, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid called for US Patriot missiles and troops to be deployed in her country.

Military ties deepen between the two NATO allies Germany and the Netherlands as the German military put a short-range air defence unit with about 450 soldiers under Dutch command.

France decided to extend border checks with countries in Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone until the end of October because of the persistent threat of terrorism.

The IEA has misled policymakers into decisions about oil, gas and coal use with scenarios that do not match the Paris climate goals: the 2°C goal, the so-called carbon budget, would be exceeded in 2034, a study found.

In order to end the harmful subsidies which favour overfishing, fishing overcapacity, and illegal fishing, the WTO wants to relaunch negotiations.

Researchers discovered that more than 300 European mountain summits scattered across the continent flush with new species – thanks to global warming.

Views are the author‘s

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