Press Advisories

11. 6. 2018 20:17

Statement by the Prime Minister on the Current State of the Debate on the European Migration Policy

Tomorrow the European Commission will issue a proposal for a future migration and border protection budget. We already know the funding for the management of the migration flows will be substantially raised to two and a half times the sum of the previous years. This is good news and a step in the right direction that the Czech Republic has been long promoting.

Development in Europe over the past three years has proven our point. Since last December a growing number of EU prime ministers have taken the view that quotas are not a workable solution and rather create more problems than they can solve. The shift was already noticeable at the meeting of interior ministers on the beginning of the month. I hope to hear statements supporting the position of the Czech Republic similar to those we’ve heard from Sebastian Kurz or Chancellor Merkel in the past weeks at the European Council at the end of the month.

Flexible solidarity as a way forward

The real solution lies outside of Europe. That is where Europe must be stronger, more active in talking with the representatives of these states, fight against smugglers and organized crime. I am glad that many heads of state and government, including the German Chancellor, specifically mention the flexible solidarity based on voluntariness.

The Czech Republic has been promoting this principle for three years and supports it with actual steps in the place of origin of migration and on migratory routes, whether in the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa or Sahel. Our experts and police also provide assistance to the EU countries that are under the greatest migratory pressure.

The retreat from quotas we have seen in Europe in recent weeks has not been self-evident and is the result of intensive work done by the Czech Republic and other countries rejecting solutions based on redistribution of asylum seekers. We have been explaining the basis of our positions for several years and in recent months negotiations have been very intense at all levels of our state administration and diplomacy. I myself was holding top-level talks on the topic with several Prime Ministers and European Commissioners.

Illegal immigration to be solved outside Europe

In the future migration policy it is absolutely vital for the Czech Republic to improve the protection of external borders. We take Frontex as a supporting force - the main responsibility lies with the Member States. Without it we will not be able to face the future migration crisis. Frontex's mandate has to change. It cannot be just a few boats that pull the drowning people out of the sea. That will not stop migration. Frontex and the EU must be active outside Europe.

The current issue with the Aquarius ship in the Mediterranean indicates that the situation can no longer be solved at sea. We need to fight against smuggling groups and organized crime so that a ship with economic migrants would not be put out to sea at all. At the same time, we must ensure that people who are in a real need and are fleeing from conflict or persecution have the opportunity to seek asylum outside Europe.

The EU must actively negotiate the readmission agreements and the prevention of migration with the third countries. We will continue to support further initiatives based on solutions outside Europe that will help to stop illegal immigration. This is a better solution both for EU citizens and migrants themselves, who are risking their lives crossing the sea to Europe when they should be able to find safety in the third countries and ideally in their countries of origin.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

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