The member states of the European Union reached an agreement on migration issues at the European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday, but according to chairman of the Riigikogu's Foreign Affairs Committee, Marko Mihkelson (independent), the EU is still far from finding a solution to the problem and the new agreement mainly serves the domestic political interests of Germany and Italy.
Mihkelson told the Baltic News Service on Friday that two "main issues" were discussed by the Council. "First there was the 'Saving Angela' mission, or the question whether or not German Chancellor Angela Merkel is able to reach a pan-European agreement to save her government coalition at home," Mihkelson said. "Then there was the question whether or not Italy's new prime minister Giuseppe Conte can assert himself in the migration debate," he added.
"It seems both have something positive to show for themselves at home now," Mihkelson said. He added that although some sort of consensus was reached, it was understood by everybody that they are far from reaching a solution in the issue.
According to Mihkelson, the agreement thus mainly serves the domestic political interests of Germany and Italy. "From Estonia's point of view, it is important that some sort of agreement was reached," he added.
Ratas stresses importance of better control of EU's external borders
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), also participating in the summit meeting, said that the EU needs to improve its cooperation with third countries, and return those who don't meet the requirements for being granted international protection in a more efficient manner.
"We need a stable, but also flexible, funding model for dealing with migration ... Estonia is ready to contribute an additional €150,000 to the Trust Fund for Africa," he went on.
Estonia has to date contributed €1.45 million to this fund.
Migration pressures have declined considerably in recent years [since the migration crisis of 2015 – ed.] as a result of joint efforts, Mr. Ratas stated.
The number of asylum seekers registered reportedly fell by 44% year on year in 2017, and the number of illegal border crossings by 60% over the same period.
"Irrespective of all the issues that still need solving, we have managed to get migration under control," Mr. Ratas opined.
Editor: Dario Cavegn