EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson upped the stakes in a row with Hungary and Poland over the proposed Migration Pact on July 4, saying the Commission had “other tools” to get dissenting countries to toe the Brussels line.
“Solidarity is mandatory”, and migration was an EU problem which the EU needed to confront as a whole, said the home affairs Commissioner.
The proposed pact’s “solidarity mechanism” lets EU members choose to accept relocated migrants or pay the EU €20,000 per migrant rejected.
If the pact came into effect, the European Commission would take measures including financial sanctions against countries disobeying the mechanism, she said.
A Commission spokesman confirmed the possibility of sanctions when asked about Johansson’s comments at a midday press briefing.
Many richer Northern European governments viewed the €20,000 as a bargain, while inundated Mediterranean countries needed the financial help, sources told Brussels Signal.
However, Hungary and Poland viewed the solidarity mechanism as “mandatory relocation by the back door”, and a dangerous concession of power away from Member States to the EU.
Poland argued the EU was not providing much aid for the millions of Ukrainian refugees it hosts, while instead sanctioning the current Polish government.
This dissent from Hungary and Poland presented the EU with a conundrum, having made previous commitments to deal with migration policy unanimously.
The European Council can legally pass the pact with a qualified majority, though, and it was “normal” for EU law to be passed with some members in disagreement, said Johansson.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose country has taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of Ministers, also suggested EU leaders may be willing to force the Migration Pact through despite objections from Hungary and Poland.