19. May 2017  |  European Union, Central Europe, Migration

With the number of migrants and refugees knocking on Europe’s doors relatively stable, there is now a sense of relief at the EU political level. In several summits held in 2016, EU leaders confrmed a shift in their focus from internal and structural to external and security dimensions of the migration challenge. 

The policy shift in the EU’s strategy on migration had at least two effects: frst, more common ground was established among various camps of member states that the priority needs to be focused on safeguarding the EU’s external borders and reducing the flow of irregular migrants. This development has meant that some policy ideas of the Visegrad Group (V4) - consisting of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic - have been incorporated into the common EU approach. At the same time, the V4 countries, which led the opposition to the mandatory relocation scheme for refugees in 2015 (with Slovakia and Hungary even fling a court case against it), were put on the spot in terms of their own contributions to the common EU response, including in its internal dimension. 

Two years later, there are emerging differences among the so-called V4. This publication examines the current national policy discourse and government policies on migration in those four respective countries. On the one hand, there is a more moderate Czech and Slovak duo, and on the other, a more conservative, ideologically driven Hungarian and Polish tandem. 

The collection of policy briefs from each V4 country presents a snapshot of the national debates on migration amidst growing populism, a common feature not only in the region but also more broadly across Europe. Each policy brief also analyses how individual governments are managing their own asylum policies as well as how they are positioning themselves in the current discussions regarding reforms of the Common European Asylum System.

The diverging policies in the region have implications on the feasibility of the EU-27 in reaching a common ground on asylum policies. With the goal of facilitating agreement on common solutions in the area of migration, GLOBSEC launched a project in March 2016 that provides insights into the different positions of Central European countries. The project aims to foster understanding regarding what EU countries can agree on now, where political efforts should be expended, what is feasible to change, and which actors should be engaged with in different national contexts in terms of local debates.

For us, Central Europeans, the migration debate is not only about migrants. It’s also about our place and role in the European Union and our capacity to be part of common solutions to this long-term problem that will shape the future of Europe.

You can download the full text of the publication Migration Politics and Policies in Central Europe in pdf format here.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the Open Society Foundations who kindly supported the project.