Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has taken a swipe at the proposed EU migration overhaul by sharing a video that juxtaposed scenes of violent protests in France against the idyllic landscape of Polish cities. The premier himself floated his own plan seeking to curb mass migration.
The video, posted on Morawiecki’s Twitter account on Thursday, showed images of burning cars, smashed windows and clashes between police and protesters in France, where riots have erupted for four nights after the fatal police shooting of a teenager of North African origin. The footage was contrasted with shots of peaceful streets, churches and monuments in Poland, accompanied by the caption: “Poland or France? You decide.”
The tweet coincided with Morawiecki’s harsh criticism of a migration overhaul proposal that gives EU members three options to deal with the problem: accept relocated asylum seekers, pay €20,000 ($21,000) for each rejected applicant, or finance operational support.
Morawiecki said the reform was “unacceptable” and “encourages smugglers to send more transports.” He argued that Poland had already taken in more than 2 million migrants from Ukraine and Belarus, and that the EU should focus on securing its external borders and helping refugees in their countries of origin.
He also suggested that the unrest in France was a result of failed migrant integration, and that Poland did not want to follow the same path. “We want to keep our identity, our culture, our traditions,” he said.
The Polish leader’s stance was echoed by his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban, who also rejected the EU migration plan and accused Brussels of trying to “blackmail” member states into accepting migrants. The two countries, along with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, have been at odds with the EU over migration issues for years, and have refused to take part in previous relocation schemes.
The EU migration reform, which was agreed by a large majority of member states in June, aims to overhaul the bloc’s asylum system and end the disproportionate burden on countries like Greece and Italy, which receive most of the arrivals. The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she expected it to be made into legislation before the end of this year.
However, the reform faces opposition not only from Poland and Hungary, but also from some human rights groups and NGOs, who argue that it does not provide adequate protection for refugees and asylum seekers, and that it violates international law by allowing for pushbacks and deportations.
The migration issue has overshadowed other topics at the EU summit that wrapped up on Friday, such as the support for Ukraine amid tensions with Russia, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. French President Emmanuel Macron cut his summit presence short to return to France to address the widespread rioting there, which he condemned as “unacceptable violence.” He also vowed to pursue justice for the teenager’s killing and to fight against discrimination and racism.