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Picture of dead Syrian boy stirs outcry

The migrant crisis in Europe continues to make the headlines in several EU member states. Les Echos comments that the crisis has been escalating over the past few days with the closing of Budapest’s main railway station on Tuesday, the Czech authorities starting to write numbers on the arms of refugees with ink, the Eurostar traffic blocked by hundreds of migrants yesterday, and the death of 12 Syrian migrants, including eight children – with the same picture of a man carrying the body of one of the dead boys being published by several EU newspapers – off the Turkish coast.

Most media report that yesterday, Italy, France and Germany have signed a joint document calling for a review of current European Union rules on granting asylum and a “fair” distribution of migrants within the EU. The document underlines that the current migrant crisis has “clearly shown the limits and defects” of the rules on asylum and that they need to be re-assessed, the ministry said in a statement. Moreover, the draft urges the EU to take action to guarantee peace in Libya by supporting a future government of national unity, in order to slow down the flow of migrants to Europe, and to revise the Dublin Regulation, Italian media add. The document was sent to EU High Representative EC Vice-President Federica Mogherini, urging the EU to discuss the issue on 4-5 September at the informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, writes.

According to Naftemporiki and Eleftheros Typos, Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos revealed that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will present on September 9th at the European Parliament, the new plans for the relocation of refugees, as well as for the speeding up of the deportation processes of the unwanted economic migrants. De Volkskrant writes that Jean-Claude Juncker will call member states to receive a total amount of 160,000 refugees, four times as much as the 40,000 the member states reluctantly agreed on.

In an interview with De Ochtend, Commissioner Marianne Thyssen stresses that the migrant crisis is a European issue which can only be solved with more solidarity: “The burden must be shared in the whole EU.” First Vice-President Frans Timmermans claims on ZDF that member states have recognised that they cannot solve the crisis on their own, and that they have abused the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Agreement for too long. The Times reports that First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said that countries in Eastern Europe will be punished if they fail to implement rules on asylum.

Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica add that funds related to those fines will be redistributed to cover costs in countries participating in what could become a permanent relocation system. Today, Mr Juncker will have a critical meeting with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban regarding the fence built at the borders with Serbia and the dividing initiative of the “Visegrad group” (Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) over a joint front against the quota system, Eleftheros Typos reports.

In a guest article in FAZ, Viktor Orban defends Hungary’s stance, saying that his country is trying to protect the European borders and Schengen agreements. There is “no other way” than protecting “our borders,” he maintains. All Greek and Cypriot media report that the Greek government – which has just accepted a third international bailout as it struggles to pay enormous debts – has seen more than 160,000 people landing on its shores this year. Athens has repeatedly said it is unable to cope with the scale of the influx, calling for a coordinated European response and for more resources to help it accommodate the refugees.

Greek ministers met Wednesday to discuss the emergency, which will likely also be at the centre of talks in Athens this Thursday between Greek officials, the European Commission’s First Vice-President Timmermans, and Commissioner Avramopoulos. The two Commissioners will travel to the island of Kos on Friday, accompanied by the heads of Frontex, EASO and Europol. Most Greek media also report that Commissioner Avramopoulos sent a letter to the Greek authorities detailing the prior actions to be taken by Athens in order to disburse directly part of the amount that is expected to be allocated for the management of the massive inflow of refugees and economic migrants to Greece.

Several media continue to report that the EU is taking too much time to implement measures to tackle the migrant crisis. In an interview with the Salzburger Nachrichten, Upper Austrian Governor Josef Pühringer urges the EU to introduce the refugee quotas by the end of the year, otherwise Austria will have to act on its own. El País leader writer also calls on the EU to take things further regain part of its lost legitimacy and global leadership. In his column in Hospodářské noviny daily, Czech Radio correspondent in Brussels Ondřej Houska quotes Finance Minister Andrej Babiš as saying that the European Commission is not doing enough for the refugee crisis and calling national states to take the initiative.

Nils Muiznieks, Human Rights Commissioner in the Council of Europe writes in Gazeta Wyborcza that the EU had been warned of the weakness of its immigration and asylum system for years. Several op-eds call for an “ambitious” common European immigration policy. Several media criticise Europe for its lack of humanity and the non-respect of its core principles. De Standaard‘s Karel Verhoeven writes that “by rejecting a political deal, EU member states have created an internal market for asylum,” before adding “the EU remains divided and paralysed.”

Media also comment on the United Kingdom’s attitude towards the migrant crisis. The Washington Post writes that despite the number of migrants entering Europe, “the numbers, who have been resettled in Britain, could fit on a single London Underground train – with plenty of seats to spare.” According to Nicolas Klein, writing in Quotidien, the EU risks becoming an “empty shell,” that has abandoned its original ideals. Bjarke Møller, Director of the think-tank Europa, says in Børsen that the way the EU decides to handle of the refugee crisis will define Europe’s future.




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