Zsuzsanna Szelenya, Member of the Hungarian Parliament and Member of the opposition party Együtt
Martin Kremer, Head of division E22 Middle and Eastern European countries, Federal Foreign Office
Josef Janning, Co-Director Berlin and Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations
Refugees being lost at the train station in Budapest with only one aim – traveling further to get access to a better life: Recent pictures and stories of the situation of refugees on European territory were starting point for a lively debate on the current EU migration and asylum policy. The domestic European situation ran like a red thread the discussion Black Coffee morning “Hungary’s border fence – Europe’s external borders” chaired by Josef Janning, Co-Director Berlin and Senior Policy Fellow ECFR Berlin. There was a broad consensus regarding that a common understanding of European solidarity is absent and has to be a central issue on the agenda of the European policy at least from now on. An important topic facing the EU is that there is no cohesive policy on how to deal with asylum seekers.
Although there is an intense intergovernmentalism ruling European politics right now, it was common point of view that on the one hand the Commission is in charge with taking the lead to a common migration and asylum policy, yet a group of member states – including Germany, France and Italy – will drive next steps on this issue to find a common European position. Different experiences with immigration in the individual E-28 compound a joint approach to solute the current humanitarian crisis and lead to a “fair distribution” and “burden sharing” between the member states in terms of giving asylum to asylum seekers from countries of the Middle East and Africa. As some EU member states like Great Britain reserve strong language on the migration question, topics like binding quotas or a voluntary approach receiving asylum seekers will continue to shape the ongoing European debate.
In conclusion, it is an important concern to have in mind the foreign policy dimension, aside from the domestic perspective, to find a joint approach for an EU migration and asylum policy with regard that several refugees from Syria, from Iraq might not settle back there and that the future will be marked by further and continuous conflicts.