Overcoming the Migration Deadlock: What Can the New EU Migration Pact Achieve?

The mood was tense when Margaritis Schinas and Ylva Johansson appeared before the press on Wednesday 23 September with their migration pact. “Nobody will be satisfied,” predicted the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, foreseeing reactions to the more than 300-page proposals, even before the Visegrád heads of government, as expected, began their chorus of critics on Friday.

While human rights and migrant organisations in particular widely criticised the pact, as in their opinion it was too much focused on restrictive migration prevention, not only Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, but also Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz signalled that they would not easily agree on the proposals.

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Connecting Europe – For a Common Infrastructure Strategy

On 1 July, Germany takes over the EU Council Presidency and faces a major agenda. [Part 2]

The EU needs a European infrastructure strategy. Growth, jobs and prosperity for Europe’s citizens are created and advanced through real or digital, traditional and modern infrastructures. That’s not all: infrastructure provides states and regions with security and citizens with educational opportunities and health protection. In the geostrategic conflicts of the 21st century, infrastructure is a target of political disputes through direct attacks or economic takeovers.

The European Union must respond to these multiple challenges in a tailored manner. This includes – a central lesson of the Corona crisis – a modern health and disaster protection system that operates beyond borders. The establishment of joint stockpiles of critical medical devices and medicines is just as necessary as regular and effective training to avert dangerous situations. The Member States have a wealth of unique and high-quality experience and equipment in the field of health and civil protection. They must be carefully linked for the efficient and effective protection of Europe.

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Restart Schengen – 35 Years of Freedom in Europe

 

“Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.” – what today constitutes the charter of fundamental rights of the EU began 35 years ago as a small-scale agreement: When the five founding states of the EU – Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – signed the Schengen Agreement on 14 June 1985, they probably did not yet foresee the far-reaching consequences this gradual abolition of border controls would have for the further course of the European integration process. The common Schengen area is “an expression of lived freedom and freedom of movement and one of the greatest achievements” in the history of Europe, according to Stephan Thomae, deputy chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the German Bundestag.

Time and again, the Schengen Agreement comes under pressure from daily political events: For instance, during the migration and refugee crisis in 2014 and 2015 as well as during the current Corona crisis. The retreat to national borders and reflexes shows how fragile our, so laboriously created, common space of freedoms is. Reason enough to consider the value of the agreement. There are at least three good reasons to revitalise the spirit of Schengen and to campaign for the maintenance of the four freedoms of goods, services, labour and capital: Continue reading