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EU struggling to reach common solution to refugee crisis

The meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers scheduled to take place in Brussels today, and tomorrow’s extraordinary EU summit of heads of state and government dedicated to the refugee crisis are bound to be two very intense events. Central and Eastern European leaders have defied attempts by Brussels and Berlin to impose refugee quotas, The Guardian postulates.

Angela Merkel’s handling of the refugee crisis reflects Germany’s need to become more influential in international affairs, Ulrike Guerot, director of the European Democracy Lab, suggests in The Daily Telegraph and, as Le Monde notes, the German Chancellor – dubbed “Mother Angela” by Der Spiegel – faces numerous critics within her party and her government and has made, in her crusade, few friends in Europe. Brussels is reportedly irritated by her mere convening of a European summit and the request has also upset Luxembourg’s Presidency of the Council of the EU – which, according to Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, believes that a compromise over the allocation of immigrants is near and that an agreement could be made at today’s meeting of Interior Ministers.

Several Eastern European countries however, do not want to see a mandatory quota system introduced and the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland met in Prague on Monday to prepare for Wednesday’s emergency meeting of EU leaders. The Czech government has, for instance, written a letter to Brussels arguing that compulsory quotas are illegal, saying it could take the issue to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, The Guardian reports, as does BNR.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said in the Hungarian Parliament that refugee quotas do not provide a solution to the problem and only treat the symptoms, Magyar Nemzet reports. What is more, according to The Guardian, the Hungarian government has brought in new laws authorising the army to use non-lethal force against refugees massing on its borders. The four countries of the Visegrád Group – the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland – will therefore not be able to alter their stance in the refugee crisis without losing face, Deutschlandfunk’s Peter Lange argues; eventually, he claims, the four countries will accept a compromise which may not be called a quota and which must not include automatic refugee numbers.

Hungary, which won’t hear of a refugee distribution system it believes, is inefficient and contrary to its sovereignty, will notably “have to be exempted from the system,” a European source points out in Les Echos. Several solutions are on the table, including increasing the quotas for Greece and Italy, or letting some time pass before deciding, and seeing how things pan out in countries like Croatia and Slovenia.

A less ambitious solution is also being considered, the French newspaper notes. Besides, in an interview granted to Le Figaro, and other European newspapers such as La Repubblica, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius, noting that “the sudden influx of refugees and migrants has unbalanced” the Schengen system, also warns that Europe’s very raison d’être and functioning are at stake. France, he stresses, “is willing to eradicate Daesh,” and the solution, he adds, is going through a national union government.



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