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HN: Migrants seek security in EU that changes with their influx

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Prague, Feb 10 (CTK) – Hundreds of thousands of migrants are heading to the European Union in search of security, but Europe itself is changing under their influx, Martin Ehl wrote in Hospodářké noviny on Wednesday.

The recent developments on the European political scene look as if old alliances were being revived within the EU days before the February 18-19 summit, Ehl writes.

He writes that the foreign ministers of the six founding countries of the EU met at a dinner in Rome on Tuesday and according to server, they discussed the future of the Union that will either survive the current crisis, or will start falling apart.

Next Monday, Prague will host the prime ministers of the Visegrad Four (V4), which is comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, plus their counterparts from Bulgaria and Macedonia, Ehl writes.

He writes that they will be fine-tuning their joint stance on the migrant crisis that strongly differs from the old member countries’, Ehl writes.

He writes that the summit may fundamentally influence the future of the EU with its stand on the British request for a reform and on the protection of the outer border ahead of the expected increased migrant wave this spring.

Ehl writes that the EU has never been free of hard power infighting but this struggle is now more turned inside the EU because the continuing economic crisis, the wars in its neighbourhood, the threat of Britain’s departure and the influx of migrants.

The power shifts are more visible and fundamental now and the historic conflicts which Europe believed have been overcome, are being exposed again, Ehl writes.

One of the problems is the division into the old and new member countries, or the West and the East, Ehl writes.

He writes that the European Commission’s reaction to the steps taken by the new Polish conservative government prove how little Western politicians comprehend the essence of what is going on in the new member countries.

The developments in the new countries, for their part, show how shallow the change carried out since their entry into the EU 12 years ago has been, Ehl writes.

He writes that all this is happening one year ahead of the 60th anniversary of the signature of the Rome Treaties that established the former European Economic Community and the current European Union.

Instead of promoting their relations, the member countries are dealing with how to hold together what already exists, Ehl writes.

He writes that the preservation of free movement, which voters who tend more and more towards populism, consider the most visible success of European integration, is of key importance, Ehl writes.

This is the declared interest of the post-communist countries, including the Czechs, that are trying to push through a hard protection of the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders, he writes.

Though the idea of a “mini Schengen” that was considered by Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands under the pressure of the migrant crisis last year has been shelved for the time being, the richer and older member countries are still seeking a solution that may challenge the successes of European integration, Ehl writes.

The key rests in stopping or restricting the migrant inflow. The post-communist countries want to build fences, the older members are trying to work with partners in Turkey and Greece for a more subtle solution, Ehl writes.

The European unity is similarly tested by relation to Russia where Moscow is succeeding in deepening the differences, for instance, with regard to the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project, or assistance to Ukraine, Ehl writes.

The stances of the old and new countries also fundamentally differ in this respect, Ehl writes.

He writes that the Dutch referendum on the EU’s association treaty with Ukraine will be a test for the west-east division at a time when populism is rising in Europe.

More than a half of voters now want to vote against it, according to public opinion polls, Ehl writes.

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