Speaking today to the European Parliament about the “never-ending story” of the migrant crisis, the President of the European Council defended the EU/Turkey pact, while conceding it is not “ideal”.
Donald Tusk, the former Prime Minister of Poland and now President of the European Council, was reporting to Members of the European Parliament on the March meeting of his group.
Warning that there is no easy option for solving the problem, he said: “From the beginning, I have thought it is a dangerous illusion to believe that there exists an ideal and one-hundred-percent effective solution.
“I want to say to all the seekers of the political Holy Grail: you will never find it. Convenient and easy solutions are hard to find in politics, and in this case, they are virtually impossible.
“What we are faced with is a perpetual, tenuous and multi-dimensional effort. In fact, something like a never-ending story.”
Mr. Tusk agreed with critics that the solutions that are being enacted are “not ideal and will not end our work”. Specifically, he said the “deal with Turkey is not perfect” and that those implementing it are “fully aware of its risks and weaknesses.”
Explaining what steps were being taken to address those problems he said:
“We did everything we could to ensure that the agreement respects human dignity but I am conscious of the fact that everything depends on how it will be implemented.
“The deal with Turkey and closing the Western Balkans route raise doubts of an ethical nature, and also legal, as in the case of Turkey.
“I share some of these doubts, too. They can only be dispelled by putting the solutions, as they were agreed in every detail, into practice.”
Mr. Tusk claimed that the deal itself and the wider handling of the migrant crisis, although not perfect, are something of a success for the EU.
However, his list of averted disasters seemed to focus more on the survival of EU institutions rather than solving the migrant crisis itself.
It included: “the collapse of Schengen; loss of control over our external borders with all its implications for our security; political chaos in the EU, a widespread feeling of insecurity; and ultimately, the triumph of populism and extremism.”
For some MEPs listening to Mr. Tusk, avoiding the downsides to the migrant crisis was not enough, they still wanted to follow German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s example of welcoming all Europe.
The Belgian MEP, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group, said the deal with Turkey is “shameful and goes against international law”, adding:
“Instead of outsourcing the refugee problem to autocratic leaders like Erdoğan, we need to get our act together.”