Kristalina Georgieva has called upon Eastern European countries that are struggling to deal with the influx of refugees to increase their efforts to secure the EU’s external borders. EURACTIV’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.
European Commission Vice-President Georgieva has urged the Eastern member states to become more involved in ensuring the security of the EU’s external borders. “The new EU member states can make a much greater contribution,” Georgieva told Der Tagesspiegel on Monday (4 April) in regard to European border and coastal protection plans. EU leaders have agreed to finalise a decision on coastal protection by June.
In addition, Bulgaria’s representative in the Juncker Commission pressed the Eastern European countries to honour their financial obligations relating to the care of Syrian refugees. “Now the time has come for them to shift up a gear in their financial contributions for refugee aid in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon,” she said.
Georgieva, who for a short while was tipped to be nominated as the next UN Secretary General, seemed confident that the eastern member states’ opposition to admitting refugees would ebb in the long run. “Over time, their readiness to take in refugees will increase,” she said.
She cited Bulgaria as an example of a country where negative public opinion has subsided since the arrival of the first refugees in 2013. Unlike Hungary and Slovakia, Bulgaria did not start legal proceedings with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the refugee distribution quotas, she highlighted.
Regarding Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov’s mooted plan to secure the border with Greece with a fence, she said that the idea was not to keep out refugees. Rather, it is intended to monitor the influx of people and help identify migrants directly at the border.
Georgieva, whose portfolio includes the EU budget, baulked at the notion of cutting subsidies to non-compliant member states. “We would shoot ourselves in the foot,” she said. Adding that when poorer countries are supported by EU structural funds, export-rich countries like Germany ultimately benefit too.
This article was also published by EURACTIV Germany.