“We need stronger surveillance.”- This was the general attitude at the beginning of this European Council committee session. The Heads of State and Government debated on the need to secure external border protection and increase the surveillance at the border with third countries. France, as well as other Central and Northern European countries, emphasised the need for advanced border protection. This was encouraged through increased spending from the EU budget, a larger funding towards external border control agencies (such as Frontex), as well investment for camera surveillance. The Council was clearly divided on whether so much funding should be spent on border control as countries such as Bulgaria and Poland preferred investments to be shared differently.
On this second day of negotiations, the European Council seems more fractured than ever. Between Germany calling out Italy for its refusal to accept more ships, Poland claiming that “this is not a moral council” and it could thus choose its own policies on migrants, and Bulgaria blaming Denmark for stealing funds supposed to be allocated to migrants. The delegate of France has abstained from unconstructive criticism and has rather highlighted its own already taken actions to support the entry and integration of immigrants and has encouraged fellow countries to follow its footsteps.
We have had the opportunity to interview the delegate of France to gain further insights on the debate. France states that they are heartbroken over the reluctance of other European states in refusing to accept further migrants. In the face of other European Countries holding to national interests, they call for more solidarity and empathy. France further recalls its own willingness to accept more migrants and their already developed migration schemes.
At least, the European Council is still divided. The delegation of France wants to put itself in a mediating middle role to find a common stance and we hope that a unanimous solution will be eventually reached.
- Monica Di Venti, Political correspondent for France24