Public Affairs Networking
EU vows to increase aid to refugees

Many EU media outlets report that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to introduce a new migrants’ quota tomorrow for the relocation of 160,000 refugees across EU member states. This plan is already supported by Paris, Berlin and Rome, and France and Germany should receive the majority of refugees: 24,031 and 31,443 respectively. Nevertheless, Budapest, Prague, Bratislava and Warsaw said in advance that a binding distribution was “unacceptable.” According to Le Figaro, Hungary will be almost exempted under the new EC plan, but the three other countries, especially Poland, will be asked to make an effort three times bigger than under the previous plan.

Jean-Claude Juncker will also propose a permanent relocation system to ease the strain on EU frontier states which, under current EU rules, are supposed to process the asylum claims of all those who first enter the 28-nation bloc via their territory, Belgian media report. German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said that if countries continued to resist the quotas, there would be an end to the EU’s passport-free Schengen travel zone, causing a major economic impact on countries that trade with Germany, The Times reveals.

There were also Media reports that according to the new plan, EU member states that do not wish to receive refugees will have the option of helping by providing financial contributions for other member states to handle those people. EU media also report that France and Britain have joined Germany in pledging to take in tens of thousands of refugees and increase their support. Yesterday, on the occasion of his sixth press conference, French President François Hollande confirmed that France will welcome 24,000 refugees over the next two years and that the country will send reconnaissance flights over Syria beginning Tuesday and is considering airstrikes in the fight against Islamic State.

La Libre Belgique quotes EU High Representative EC Vice-President Federica Mogherini as saying “I welcome President Hollande’s announcement and hope all EU member states will act with the same courage.” British Prime Minister David Cameron, yesterday, said his country would take in 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps near the war-torn country’s borders over the next five years, calling the United Kingdom “a country of extraordinary compassion.” Merkel claimed that Germany would contribute €6bn for new shelters, extra police and language training in 2016. However, Merkel stressed that other EU countries must take in more migrants because “only with common European solidarity can we master this effort.”

French President Francois Hollande warned that unless the EU makes a greater collective effort, the core European ideal of open borders will be in peril. Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos stated yesterday that the refugee crisis is “knocking on the door of one member state after another.” Speaking during his visit at the asylum seekers reception centre in Austria, Commissioner Avramopoulos stressed that the EU should act responsibly and with solidarity as a true Union in order to manage the refugee crisis and firmly deal with the traffickers’ networks, Cypriot media and La Stampaquote him as saying. According to Austrian media, Mr Avramopoulos also announced that the European Commission will review the Dublin III Regulation in the coming months. Several media write that despite the renewed push by Berlin and the European Commission for an EU-wide response, decisions remain in the hands of national governments, and for many of them immigration is a sensitive political issue.

Meanwhile, Greek and Cypriot media report that the situation on Lesbos was on the verge of explosion with the recent arrival of more than 15,000 mainly Syrian refugees, the immigration minister warned. Clashes have broken out on Lesbos in recent days between police and migrants, and between migrants of different nationalities. The Cyprus Mail and Kathimerini write that Greece asked the European Union for further humanitarian aid worth €2.5 million for the management of refugee flows.

Several media continue to comment on the situation and the way the EU is addressing the issue. Gideon Rachman warns in the Financial Times that “Europe will fail the values test on refugees.” Most op-eds urge EU member states to implement a coherent and single refugee policy. Roger Cohen writes in the International New Times that some “maligned” European ideas must be renewed. Von Kurt Kotrshal writes in Die Presse that the Schengen treaty has become nothing but an obsolete instrument of discord. In an opinion article, in Diário Económico, Tiago Freire claims that there are only two options for Europe: a mandatory common response which will increase the anti-Brussels feelings or an isolated response, which will show that the EU simply does not exist.

On the contrary, in Le Figaro’s front-page editorial, Yves Thréard writes that “the future will show that the current display of generosity is an irreversible mistake.” Deputy Director of Europol Oldřich Martinů highlights in Lidové Noviny the importance of fighting smugglers. Salzburger Nachrichten writes that Brussels has been accused of having been inactive so far, but these accusations are unfair: the European Commission presented its proposal for a new migration strategy as early as last May. Les Echos’ Favilla column claims that no matter what happens, the “migrant test” will turn out to be an opportunity for a noticeable EU breakthrough.


No comments yet
Submit a comment

Policy and networking for the digital age
Policy Review TV Neil Stewart Associates
© Policy Review | Policy and networking for the digital age 2024 | Log-in | Proudly powered by WordPress
Policy Review EU is part of the NSA & Policy Review Publishing Network