Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) – The Czech Chamber of Deputies asked the cabinet on Wednesday to block the introduction of the mechanism of asylum seekers redistribution across the EU at the upcoming negotiations on the EU draft asylum policy reform, and said only member states should keep responsibility for granting asylum.
“The Chamber of Deputies resolutely rejects the EC’s proposal to introduce the corrective allocation mechanism and the financial sanctions linked to it,” says a resolution the Chamber passed after a day-long debate.
This position was supported by all nine parties in parliament. The Chamber passed it almost unanimously by the votes of 163 of the 165 deputies present.
The lower house asked the government to push for an unanimous approval of changes to the asylum policy by all members at the EU negotiations.
In this connection, the lawmakers mentioned Prague’s experience with migrant redistribution quotas which the EU approved by a majority vote in 2015 in spite of the Czech Republic and other countries’ disapproval of them.
On the other hand, the Chamber of Deputies supported the planned changes to the EU asylum system that are aimed to prevent misuse of member countries’ asylum regimes and speed up unsuccessful asylum seekers’ return to their countries of origin.
Mainly MPs from the anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) contributed to the debate preceding the vote, subjecting the quotas to fierce criticism.
SPD MP Jan Hrncir called the draft reform “lethal and murderous”. Radovan Vicha (SPD) said “the EU is committing a suicide and forcing us to join it.” Monika Jarosova spoke about the ongoing transformation of European states to dependent regions reminding of protectorates.
According to the SPD, the Chamber of Deputies should call the EU’s draft asylum policy reform a gross violation of the Czech Republic’s sovereignty and it should reject it.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) warned against doing so, as did the opposition except the SPD.
In reaction to the SPD, the Pirates suggested that the Chamber of Deputies ask the cabinet to propose a constructive alternative to the EU-planned automatic migrant redistribution mechanism.
A flat rejection has no chance of succeeding in the EU, Mikulas Peksa (Pirates) said.
“It is necessary to raise the effectivity of the functioning of European information systems and thereby decrease the administrative burden individual countries face now,” he said.
The Pirates also want the Czech Republic to support an effective returning of unsuccessful asylum seekers to their countries’ of origin and a better protection of Schengen’s outer border.
Ondrej Benesik (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said Prague should try to prevent only the planned new mechanism of migrant redistribution, but not other steps, such as the acceleration of the asylum proceedings, which would also speed up the readmission process.
The Czech Republic accepted some 50,000 refugees in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, when current President Milos Zeman was prime minister, without suffering any harm, while only 1,450 people seek Czech asylum now, Benesik pointed out.
The EC submitted its draft asylum policy reform in May 2016. The original plan presented the relocation mechanism as a safeguard in case a member country failed to cope with a wave of migrants.
However, a solution based on a consensus between the countries that reject the mechanism and those supporting is still being sought.
TOP 09 Wednesday called on PM Babis to push for the observance of the previously approved system of states contributing to trust funds in aid of Syria and Africa.
“This is an important instrument for a long-term and stable way of solving the risks of migration,” TOP 09 said in a press release.