Experts: New EU migrant deal not to bring any greater change for Estonia

Keit Kasemets.
Keit Kasemets. Source: ERR

The changed conditions of the EU's approach to solving the migrant crisis as set out last week won't incur any additional costs for Estonia, Keit Kasemets, who leads the representation of the European Commission in Estonia, said, though migration expert Kert Valdaru points to a weakness in the new scheme: there is no plan how to implement it.

As Kasemets pointed out, Estonia has contributed a lot to solving the migrant crisis during and also after its presidency of the EU council in 2017. This includes the EU's funds for Africa, Kasemets said.

The new agreement, made necessary both by new governments in Spain and Italy as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's difficult position domestically, won't bring any great changes for Estonia.

"A lot still depends on the dedication and the decisions of the government," Kasemets said. "There are no new obligations. Anything concerning member states' taking in refugees is still happening on a voluntary basis, which makes it entirely the government's decision."

EU summit's results: Vague, with something for everyone

The EU's leaders debated the issue of changes to be made to the union's approach to solving the migrant crisis in an eight-hour marathon meeting. Very early on Friday morning they reached an agreement vague enough to include something for everyone.

The EU will establish asylum centres, where arriving refugees will be processed and wait for placement in EU countries. Though most of the centres will be on EU territory and not in third countries, like several member states had demanded it, this is a decisive step forward for countries like Italy and Spain, who finally see a sign of solidarity as apparently 12 member states agree to voluntarily support the scheme set up this way.

Whether or not the compromise reached in yesterday's meeting will be enough for Merkel to overcome tensions in her coalition government at home is still to be seen. What seems clear is that right-wing governments like those of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and now also Italy and Spain see the compromise as a step forward towards what they call a more reasonable refugee policy.

Estonian expert: Action plan is missing

Secretary-general of the Reform Party and migration expert, Kert Valdaru told ERR's "Aktuaalne kaamera" newscast that the new scheme has "nice aims", but will be difficult to implement, seeing as there is no implementation plan at all.

"I would conclude that we can't really call this a breakthrough," Valdaru said. The solution found in the EU leaders' meeting included something for everyone, but is really too focused on giving every head of government something to show for themselves. It would be difficult to implement, Valdaru said.

On the other hand, that some sort of agreement was reached at all is already a positive sign, given the difficulty and sensitivity of the issue, Valdaru pointed out.

"The message of this new migration deal could be that to get Europe's protection one doesn't have to come to Europe anymore," Valdaru said, hinting at the asylum centres debated at the summit. This could eventually prove to work against the smugglers bringing people across the EU's external border.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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