EXPLAINED: What the EU's newly passed migration pact means for Czechia

The government coalition and opposition parties have come to blows over the potential impacts that the major pact will have on Czechia.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 22.04.2024 10:57:00 (updated on 22.04.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

The EU’s Migration and Asylum Pact has caused discord within Czechia’s coalition and opposition parties as senior politicians grapple with the upcoming EU-wide law. 

On April 10, members of the European Parliament voted in favor of the pact, sparking intense reaction throughout Czech political ranks. 

Czechia’s erring stance – lukewarm at best – was well underlined by its abstinence from voting on the pact in February this year. 

What is the pact?

In a nutshell, the Migration and Asylum Pact – in the works since 2020 – is a huge legislative bill that aims to improve how the EU manages third-country asylum seekers, particularly those from Middle Eastern and North African countries. 

The key takeaways from the pact are the hoped-for acceleration of asylum procedures – including both acceptances and returns – a better and more secure screening system, and increased solidarity and cooperation between member states. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to relieve the load of current border countries (EU nations next to a third country).

The EU hopes that the number of asylum seekers in Europe will be better distributed across the bloc. Under the new law, if an EU country does not want to accept people applying for asylum, then that member state will legally be obliged to offer alternative assistance.

What does the pact mean for Czechia?

Under the new system, member states will have three options to manage migration flows: relocate (and house) a certain number of asylum seekers, pay EUR 20,000 (CZK 505,000) for each claimant they refuse to accept, or finance operational support, like staff and equipment. 


Interior Minister Vít Rakušan estimated that Czechia would need to contribute roughly CZK 480 million to the pact once it is implemented.

Where does the coalition stand?

Although it admits the draft law is not perfect, the government coalition generally supports the EU package. Prime Minister Petr Fiala said last week: “On the one hand, [the pact] is good that a European solution…which is stronger than the previous less functional attempts to solve illegal migration. “On the other hand, the approved version does not go as far as we would like.”

Fiala pointed out that opposition politicians were “needlessly scaring people,” reminding the public that the new system will not actually have any mandatory quotas for accepting refugees or relocating them.

While accepting the new deal was not as good as it could have been, Rakušan also spoke favorably of the law. The pact “will allow for more effective protection of the EU’s external borders and faster deportations,” Rakušan noted last week.

What does the opposition think?

In a special parliamentary hearing on the EU pact last week, the opposition was up in arms about the government’s support of the law, accusing the coalition of betrayal.

Head of largest opposition party ANO Andrej Babiš said that the pact will not solve the question of migrants in the EU and will worsen the situation. “Illegal migration threatens European security, its values, and the local way of life,” the ANO leader said. He called the pact the biggest betrayal in the Czech Republic’s modern history, accusing it of having hidden refugee quotas.

In a similar vein, the leader of the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party, Tomio Okamura, accused Brussels and Western Europe of trying to shift the “burden” of asylum seekers onto Central and Eastern Europe. He warned about possible increased rates of terrorism, rape, robbery, and murder in Czechia due to the pact. 

What will happen now?

Before it can take effect, all 27 EU member countries must endorse the reform package, possibly in a vote in late April. It is slated to take effect in the second half of 2024.

There is a possibility, though, that Czechia will be exempt from some of the pact’s binding laws. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said on April 18 that countries that have already accepted large amounts of refugees from Ukraine may have fewer obligations than other member states.

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