Estonian MEPs: Commission's reaction to migration crisis successful ({{commentsTotal}})

Asylum seekers in Malmö at the height of the migration crisis in 2015
Asylum seekers in Malmö at the height of the migration crisis in 2015 Source: AFP/Scanpix

While the European Commission initially made mistakes reacting to the recent migration crisis, subsequent decisions were successful and migration into Europe has subsided, Estonian MEPs said, appearing on an ETV program on Wednesday.

"What we can criticize the European Commission for is not being able to foresee such migrant flow to Europe when the war broke out in Syria. However, necessary decisions have been made since then," said Urmas Paet from the Reform Party.

He said that the migration agreement with Turkey has worked well. "Several million people have escaped the war in Syria alone. There is no sense in erecting a concrete wall on the coast of Turkey when hundreds of people manage to cross the border between Greece and Turkey."

Centre Party's Yana Toom said that there are no grounds for refugee panic in Estonia. She added that Estonia will see 68 people per one million residents.

"These fears are not justified in Estonia, and the fact certain parties have become very popular, going from village to village, scaring people by talking about blacks about to jump out of the woods, is nothing more than political technology. Immigration to Europe has fallen," Toom said.

Reform Party MEP Andrus Ansip said that the Malta refugee summit was a step in the right direction.

"There is talk of voluntary quotas. As long as this concerns Germany and France, things are clear, but as soon as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Romania enter play, people seem to lose interest," Ansip reasoned. "A lot of refugees who have paid money do not want to come to Estonia." Ansip said the EU should honor refugees' free will more.

Jaak Madison of the Conservative People's Party (EKRE) explained that chairman of his party and Minister of the Interior Mart Helme had a hard time boycotting the Malta meeting as he was not invited to participate, while Helme will be attending the upcoming formal meeting of EU internal affairs ministers.

Madison added that French President Emmanuel Macron has suggested countries that do not want to accept refugees should pay for it.

The MEP said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has beat about the bush and support for voluntarism has been a total failure. "Migration policy drove deep rifts between member states," he said.

Social Democratic Party (SDE) MEP Sven Mikser said people should not be taken where they don't want to go. "The outgoing European Commission was not very successful politically, but there were no practical problems with directing migration flow; mistakes were made primarily in member state capitals," Mikser said, adding that national and radical parties have not managed to come up with a migration committee to solve the problem.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski



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