EU concerned over Polish law allowing migrant pushbacks at border

Pushbacks should never be normalized, says EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson.

EU concerned over Polish law allowing migrant pushbacks at border

The European Union is concerned about a new Polish law allowing border guards to immediately expel migrants who cross the border illegally. 

In her speech Wednesday at the European Parliament plenary debate on pushbacks at the EU external border, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson said “reports suggest that the proposal in the amended Polish Aliens law to give border guards autonomy to grant access to an asylum procedure or not is already in practice on the ground."

“My services are in discussion with the Polish authorities on its compliance with the EU acquis.”

New tensions arose with the decision of the Polish Constitutional Court on Oct. 7 following ongoing rule of law discussions between Warsaw and Brussels.

The court announced its decision that the country's national laws take precedence over some EU legislation.

Poland's practices on issues such as the rule of law, freedom of the press and judicial independence have been criticized within the EU in recent years.

The rule of law clash between Poland and the EU will be on the agenda of the EU leaders’ summit on Thursday at the request of some countries.

Not first time

“Two weeks ago, investigative journalists from [non-profit media house] Lighthouse Reports published allegations of violent pushbacks at our EU borders. You called for this debate in response to those reports,” Johansson said.

Noting that this is not the first time they have received such reports, she said the commission had received numerous allegations of pushbacks, including from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

“Violence at our borders is never acceptable. Especially if it is structural and organized,” she stressed, adding there are claims of abuse of EU funding.

Saying she has asked national authorities in Croatia, Greece and Romania to investigate any confirmed reports of misuse of funds.

“The commission will take action if such allegations are confirmed and recover the funds unduly used. European taxpayers expect us to protect our borders and to uphold our rules.”

Johansson reminded that Croatia has already set up a monitoring mechanism, pointing out that Greece also needs an independent monitoring mechanism.

‘Pushbacks should never be normalized’

Reiterating calls for sanctions on the Lukashenko regime in Belarus, Johansson said: “Pushbacks should never be normalized. Pushbacks should never be legalized,” adding to save lives, the regime must stopped.

"At least seven people have died so far at our external borders with Belarus. These deaths are unacceptable."