Decent conditions & quick quality procedures on the islands
The EU-Turkey statement has drastically brought down numbers of people trying to cross the Aegean and thereby also numbers of people drowning. But its key provisions are not implemented. What is needed are decent reception conditions on the Greek islands, quick procedures meeting European standards, more returns to Turkey and a related monitoring-mechanism. EU member states should also make good on the promise to resettle considerable numbers of refugees directly from Turkey on a voluntary basis.
The Drowned and the Saved, Mural, Mitilini, Lesvos, 10 June 2016. Photo: cc flickr/John Perivolaris.What to do
For a reformed, merit-based EU accession process that offers a credible interim goal
Further enlargement of the European Union in the Balkans is only possible if it is deeply transformative. Without radical improvements of institutions and the economy, no other Western Balkan country will ever join the European Union. The accession process must be thoroughly reformed, made merit-based and offer membership in the Single Market as a credible interim goal.
Support the CJEU to protect the rule of law in Poland
The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has forced Poland to undo some steps in the demolition of judicial independence. But Poland's judiciary is still under siege. No member state of the EU has ever gone as far in subjugating its courts to executive control. EU member states and all parliamentary groups should support the European Commission and the Court in their ongoing battle to protect the rule of law in Poland.
Building in Warsaw, July 2016. Photo: ESI/Kristof BenderWhat to do
The 20-year old consensus of no border changes in the Balkans is eroding. Serbia’s president Aleksandar Vucic, supported by Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci and some leading US and EU officials, has put the idea of border changes back on the table. In a region where most states are multi-ethnic this is dangerous. The EU should take a clear stance against.
"If Kosovo is not Serbia, then Republika Srpska is not Bosnia!" Banner in front of Serbia's Foreign Ministry. December 2018. Photo: Kristof Bender/ESIWhat to do
Why the EPP should expel Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party
Viktor Orban presents a unique danger, because he injects a far-right virus into the bloodstream of Europe’s political centre. While formally a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), his policies and aims are borrowed from the playbook of Europe’s far right. If the EPP does not want to be eaten from within, it should expel Orban’s Fidesz party now.
Caricature: The Economist/David Parkins.What to do
The idea for a genuine common EU asylum policy is dead. Instead a colition of EU member states should establish common asylum centres where asylum seekers enter the EU. After fair, yet quick procedures, those receiving protection should be distributed to EU countries on a voluntary basis; those not receiving protection should be quickly returned to their countries of origin. In order to ensure co-operation from those countries, tangible benefits such as legal access for their citizens to the EU have to be offered.
None of the West Balkan countries currently meets the criteria for EU accession. None of them will join without huge efforts to strengthen their democratic and judicial institutions. None of them will be prepared to join anytime soon. Yet, there are strong arguments for all EU member states to support the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania as soon as possible.
French president Emmanuel Macron and Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev. Photo: Wikimedia CommonsWhat to do
Countries blatantly violating its rules should be expelled
On 5 May 2019 the Council of Europe had its 70th birthday. Its health is rapidly deteriorating. In June its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) gave up most of its powers to independently impose sanctions on member states, giving in to blackmail and threats from Russia. This is unacceptable for an institution whose main purpose is to uphold human rights, democratic standards and the rule of law. It should let members go that violate and undermine its basic principles.
Moscow post-election protest, 5 March 2012. Photo: cc Natalia Pokrovskaya/flickrWhat to do
A new reception and asylum system: speed and quality
The EU needs a reception and asylum system that enables member states at the external border to determine quickly who needs protection in the EU and who does not: a system that combines speed and quality. The Dutch asylum practice in Ter Apel, the main asylum processing centre, illustrates that this is possible.
image by scagliola brakkee, http://www.scagliolabrakkee.nl/What to do