Brussels prepares the red carpet for Zelensky

Nobody in Brussels confirms, for security reasons, the visit of “a special guest”. Although the city, the European summit and its leaders are preparing to receive Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian president will almost certainly participate in the European summit on Thursday. After six interventions in the European Council via video call, it is expected that he will attend the building for the first time in person Justus Lipsius.

It will be the second time he has left his country since the start of the war, after the lightning trip he made in December to USA. But before setting foot in the community capital, the president has made previous stops in London and Paris. A stop on the road that in the corridors of the community capital they avoid criticizing.

The EU is decked out to receive Zelensky just a week after the leaders of the community institutions landed in kyiv for a bilateral summit. However, the force of said quote is purely symbolic. The photographs, the flattery, the bilateral meetings and the ukrainian flags Together with the European ones, they will be the central news of a meeting from which no major announcements such as more sanctions, more progress in the enlargement process or more support packages for Ukraine are expected.

The EUyes, it will show off the 67,000 million that it has allocated during these twelve months to support the country from all arteries: humanitarian, financial and military.

In the community capital they refer to this European summit as one of the rarest. For obvious reasons. No one reveals what the times will be, the choreography and if the appointment will last only on Thursday or will also gobble up Friday. Among the speculations of these days, the idea that Zelensky intervene in the European Parliament. But what does seem more closed is that the Ukrainian president will hold different bilateral meetings in the European Council with one objective: to redouble the pressure so that the Europeans send him more weapons and more quickly in the face of the Russian offensive that in kyiv and Brussels they expect in the First anniversary of the war dated by fire on the calendar on February 24.

Back to the European Council

This extraordinary summit has been overshadowed by the (more than possible) landing of Zelenski in the community capital. But once the “special guest” returns to his country, the 27 European leaders will return to their planned agenda focused on how to respond to the macro subsidies of United States and China and how to address the immigration issue. Both issues are highly divisive.

The debate around migration is the most toxic, visceral and divisive on the European agenda

The EU adds eight years without a common asylum policy. The debate around migration is the most toxic, visceral and divisive on the European agenda. And after years in a mixed bag, now it seems to be back to stay. It does so hand in hand with the countries that are experiencing the increase in arrivals of migrants and asylum seekers at their borders. The route of the Western Balkans It increased last year by 150% and in the EU as a whole, irregular arrivals already reach figures for 2016, shortly after the refugee crisis of 2015.

Throughout these years of paralysis, the tone and migration policies in the bulk of the EU have turned to increasingly harsh positions, engulfed on several occasions by the discourse of the extreme right. Language that criminalizes NGOs operating in the Mediterranean has gained space. Also the one that focuses on human traffickers. There is little or no consensus among the capitals to move forward and culminate in the Asylum Pact. The only common denominator among the Twenty-seven revolves around border control and increasing agreements with third countries of origin and transit. But the space for solidarity and responsibility between European partners is diluted along the way.

‘Walls protect Europe’

With this backdrop, the EU dusts off the migration issue. He does it with the ultraconservative Victor Orbán, Hungarian Prime Minister, assuring that the “walls protect Europe”. And he also does it with the Austrian chancellor, Karl Nehammerthreatening to block the final conclusions of the meeting if their community partners do not commit to take urgent and concrete measures to “stop irregular immigration”.

What they look for capitals like Budapest and vienna is for the EU to finance the construction of walls and fences on its borders with the European budget. It is an old debate and with legal doubts. The European regulation stipulates that “European funds can support infrastructures, systems or services destined to implement border controls or surveillance”. A language at the service of interpretation. A recent report from European Parliament warns that border walls close off access to a territory, limiting the rights and security of people seeking international protection.

A few years ago, the debate was settled with the refusal of Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. To date, the German has ruled out that “the barbed wire or the walls” are paid for with European money, although her team has welcomed the fact that governments do so with national budgets. Much more willing has been Charles-MichelPresident of the European Council, who has endorsed this option openly, causing yet another source of tension with the institution on the other side of Rue de la Lois.

The current concern of Europeans hangs over the border that separates Turkey and Bulgaria

In an EU that not so long ago raised its voice over the wall of donald trump On the Mexican border, more than 1,800 kilometers of new fences and walls have sprung up since 2014 on the internal and external borders, according to a report by the European Parliament. The current concern of Europeans now hangs over the border that separates Turkey and Bulgaria, first gate on the Balkan route. Austria asks for about 2,000 million euros to extend this barrier. In Brussels they no longer close their voices so vehemently with this idea. But funds are limited. He Multiannual Financial Framework contemplates a game of 6,000 million for infrastructures and border control. And 3,100 million have already been placed. For this reason, plans are already beginning to be cooked to extend the aid aimed at stopping the departures from this point.

European sources acknowledge that “toxicity” is high in this political debate. The capitals arrive with different sensitivities, approaches, electoral appointments and concerns. TO Austria he is concerned about the land border; to Italyhe Mediterranean; to Germany, secondary movements; to Hungary and Poland, mandatory relocation. Discussions on immigration have been the most incendiary and passionate in the last decade. But the common denominator continues to be blockade and division. And eight after arrival at Old continent of a million refugees, the EU looks abroad for the lack of internal unity.

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