Peeters: “Francken didn’t consult cabinet collegues”

The Flemish Christian democrat Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters says that that the Federal Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) had not consulted with with cabinet colleagues before making his comments about EU migration policy and the failure to reach agreement on the changes to the Dublin Regulation.  

On Tuesday Mr Francken caused a political storm by calling for measures to be taken to circumnavigate article 3 of the European Human Rights Treaty in order to facilitate the introduction of a so-called push-back policy, the interception of boat migrants and sending them back to North Africa where they would be put up in camps awaiting a decision on their application for leave to reside in the EU.  A 2012 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights said that push-back was in contravention of article 3 of the European Treaty on Human Rights that deals with issues related to torture. Mr Francken’s comments were sharply criticised by opposition parties.

Speaking on VRT radio’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’, Mr Peeters said that “What he said was not discussed beforehand aound the cabinet table. Certainly not getting around article 3. I presume that the Prime Minister is following this very closely and will take the appropriate steps if they prove necessary".  

Meanwhile, the European Commissioner responsible for migration Dimitris Avramopoulos reacted quickly to Mr Francken words. He said in a statement that "European migration policy is led by the principle of respect for the principle of non-refoulement. This is a principle that is written into the Geneva Convention and is the gold standard of European policy”.

Speaking later Mr Francken brought nuance to his earlier comments.