April 19. 2024. 9:39

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Unfit for purpose: EU migration system in crisis

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

As the migration crisis continues to simmer across Europe, EU leaders at a special summit on 9 February are expected to focus on increasing migrant returns rather than seeking a comprehensive solution.

EU officials concede that bottlenecks exist at every step of the migration process. Limited burden sharing and overstretched national immigration authorities that cannot prevent migrants from filing asylum applications in multiple states have resulted in a system that is in a near-permanent crisis. Read more.



Concerns over EPP chief’s leadership style, second salary. Officials of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) are concerned about Manfred Weber’s leadership style, his unilateral collaboration attempts with Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and the way his second salary was decided, which the EPP insists it is “significantly below €20,000”. Read more.



German Defence Minister promises Leopard 1 tanks during Kyiv visit. Germany will provide Ukraine with up to 178 Leopard 1 tanks in addition to the already promised Leopard 2 battle tanks, Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said during a surprise visit to Kyiv. Read more.



French minister: International trade faces ‘paradigm shift’, EU industrial plan key. Trading with international partners at “whatever costs” no longer makes sense, French Trade Minister Olivier Becht said, urging that the EU must react to the US Inflation Reduction Act with an industrial plan. Read more.

France tests EU single market with its own tobacco taxation. More than two years ago, France became the first EU country to impose higher (€6.61) than the EU average (€3.34) excise taxes on tobacco in an effort to reduce smoking rates. Read more.



Austrian chancellor calls for EU solution to irregular migration. The European Union should adopt effective measures to fight irregular migration, said Chancellor Karl Nehammer following calls with Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, ahead of the two-day European Council summit starting Thursday. Read more.



Emergency fund to help Dutch low-income households with energy bills. Low-income households will receive help to pay off part of their increased energy bills, as a special temporary emergency fund that was agreed on last month is set to come into effect. Read more.



Sunak shuffles cabinet to bolster pledges on economy. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday, breaking up two departments to better suit his pledges to spur the economy, reduce energy prices and turn around his party’s fortunes before an election expected next year. Read more.



Finland denies rumours of joining NATO without Sweden. Finland will not join the NATO alliance without Sweden, the country’s political leadership said in response to the growing speculationsand rumours about Finland going it alone. Read more.



Sweden also opposes Russian participation in the Olympics. The Swedish government supports regional sports organisations and confederations in their attempts to influence the International Olympic Committee on Russian and Belarusian participation in the 2024 Olympics, Sports Minister Jakob Forssmed said in an interview with Dagens Nyheter. Read more.



Gentiloni asks member states to amend recovery plans ‘quickly’. EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni called on EU member states to summarise the changes of their recovery plans in a single amendment in order to speed up the approval process and the actual implementation. Read more.

Italy to use EU funds to become energy hub for Europe, Meloni says. Italy intends to use funds coming from the European Union under the so-called REPowerEU plan to completely wean itself off Russian gas and turn the country into energy hub for the bloc, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a statement. Read more.



Spanish patient associations urge caution as mask rules lifted. The Patient Association has called for prudence and respect for the vulnerable while the Society of Epidemiology has recommended the wearing of facemasks in special circumstances as Spain has started to lift mandatory facemask rules in different settings. Read more.



Czechia wants to avoid EU subsidy race, prefers negotiations with US. Entering a subsidy race by loosening state aid rules to compete with the US is something Czech officials, including its industry chief, wants to avoid. Read more.



US to deliver HIMARS systems to Poland. The US State Department approved a possible sale to Poland of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, and ammunition, the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency announced on Monday. Read more.



Slovak growth tied to recovery plan’s success. Growth will depend on whether Slovakia will be able to absorb EU recovery fund money, according to experts, after the National Bank of Slovakia upped its growth forecast from the previous 0.6% to 1.3%. Read more.



Bulgarian government introduces food price controls. Bulgaria will introduce a mechanism to monitor and control food prices across the entire supply chain, caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev, after a meeting with ministers and representatives of consumer organisations on Tuesday. Read more.



Russian envoy makes veiled threats if Bosnia joins NATO. Russia reserves the right to a “proportionate response” should Bosnia and Herzegovina join NATO or any organisation hostile to Moscow, the Russian ambassador in Sarajevo wrote in a Facebook post meant to debunk misconceptions about ‘Russian threats against Bosnia’. Read more.



Albania close to EU average in renewable energy use. In Albania, 21.2% of the energy used for heating and cooling in 2022 came from renewable sources, close to the EU average of 22.9%, according to the latest data from Eurostat. Read more.


  • EU: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends College of Commissioners’ meeting for the presentation of new measures on the Union’s disaster resilience goals;
  • Vice President Vĕra Jourová addresses the conference “Beyond Disinformation: EU Responses to the Threat of Foreign Information Manipulation”;
  • Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis receives a delegation of Latvian local governments;
  • Vice President Dubravka Šuica on an official mission to Washington;
  • Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean receives Deputy Prime Minister of Moldova Andrei Spînu;
  • Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira and Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit travel to Poland for the launch event of the 2021-2027 Partnership Agreement; Hold several meetings;
  • Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson addresses the Committee of the Regions Plenary Session;
  • Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli delivers a keynote speech at the high-level meeting on gender equality;
  • Netherlands: MH17 crash investigators hold a press conference;
  • United Kingdom: Supreme Court to rule on a challenge to Northern Ireland protocol;
  • Spain: Senate debates and votes on protecting access to abortion and menstrual leave bill, transgender rights bill;
  • Poland: German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius visits;
  • Brazil: French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on an official visit;
  • Sudan: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expected to visit;


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]