Tusk's 'concerted action doesn't make sense'

Deutsche Welle, 03.12.2015


Link to original article

In interviews with several European newspapers, European Council President Donald Tusk called for a u-turn in European refugee policy. How helpful are his remarks in finding a much-needed compromise?

Irregular migrants to Europe should be detained for as long as needed to check their identity, Donald Tusk has said, urging Europe not to underestimate the security threat presented by the influx of refugees: "It's too easy to get into Europe," he said, asking his EU partners not to "downplay the role of security."

Both the one-sided focus, which outs him at loggerheads with German chancellor Angela Merkel among others, and the timing of the remarks are a bit baffling, according to Brussels-based EU expert Janis Emmanouilidis.

DW: What can European Council President Donald Tusk hope to achieve with his warnings and tough calls for Europe to put a lid on the influx of migrants?

Janis Emmanouilidis: Donald Tusk has always been focused more on the security dimension of the refugee/migration crisis, but why he is now, particularly at this point in time addressing it in that kind of a concerted action doesn't really make sense because there's the need to forge a compromise at the European level which is already very difficult and in his position as President of the European Council, it would make sense to have a kind of balanced approach in order to be able to strike a compromise.

DW: Tusk emphasizes a priority to protect the external frontiers of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone - but what about the humanitarian aspect that prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policies?

There's a clear emphasis on all the issues related to security whereas issues related to the humanitarian crisis and the need to assist people who are fleeing their countries - all these dimensions that are also obviously key dimensions of what we're witnessing - are not being highlighted by him. He's already done that in the past, which also led to some disagreements between him and the German government. It's difficult to understand why he now addresses the issue from such an unbalanced perspective which doesn't make his job easier.

DW: Does Tusk's move come as a surprise to you?

Emmanouilidis: Yes, - we've seen him focus more strongly on security issues in the past, but under the current circumstances, from a political point of view, it's surprising why he is again invoking that strong of an emphasis on the security dimension which is not helpful with respect to finding a compromise.

DW: What's the reaction likely to be throughout the EU?

Emmanouilidis: We're going to see different reactions. For those with a strong inclination to look at the security dimension, they will obviously be applauding him. But there are others - among them Germany, Sweden, partially the Netherlands, Austria - where you will have very critical voices. In general, many will be asking: How does that help find a compromise?

DW: Could Tusk have made his remarks with an eye on Polish domestic politics, given the government's swing to the right?

Emmanouilidis: It could be that this is something he has in his mind. However, I doubt that, given the strong opposition between him and his party and the new ruling government in Warsaw, it would help him with respect to his position vis-à-vis the Law and Justice Party and in general vis-à-vis the new government in Poland.

See original text at Deutsche Welle here

Latest media contributions

Die Zeit kühner Prognosen ist vorüber
Quotes, Die Presse (Austria), 27.11.2020

EPC Annual Conference 2020 – European integration in light of COVID-19: United in adversity or my country first?
Online Conference, YouTube, 13.11.2020

US election: EU pins hopes on Joe Biden victory
Quotes, Deutsche Welle (English), 01.11.2020

US-Wahl: EU hofft, dass Joe Biden neuer Präsident wird
Quotes, Deutsche Welle (German), 31.10.2020

The German Presidency and the Conference on the Future of Europe: high hopes, low expectations
Online Event, YouTube, 28.10.2020

EPC Update – analysis of EU Summit on 1/2 October
Online Briefing, YouTube, 02.10.2020

Ursula von der Leyen: Erste Rede zur Lage der Union
Interview, WDR 5 (German radio), 16.09.2020

"Eine Gesundheitsunion ist ein sehr ambitioniertes Ziel"
Interview, rbb (German radio), 16.09.2020

Ein ganz anderes Europa
Interview, tagesschau.de, 15.09.2020

Comment l'Europe tente de mettre fin au bazar des avis de voyage
Quotes, La Libre Belgique, 04.09.2020