Last Monday, the EU Interior Ministers convened in Brussels in order to discuss about the quotas of the 120.000 refugees proposed by the European Commission (EC) but didn’t manage again to come to a common decision.
Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary belong to the group of countries that are against the latter proposal which was enough to stop the discussions despite the strong will of Germany and France to apply this scheme to the bloc.
This failure together with the reinforcement of the border controls of several EU member states creates multiple difficulties to the EU officials and leaders who want to fight the refugees crisis.
After this negative progress, Angela Merkel called for an emergency summit next week to try to persuade the countries that oppose to the Commission’s project and find an effective solution to tackle the migration crisis.
Finally, a very promising action that came out from Monday’s meeting was the creation of hotspots in Italy and Greece which will ensure the reception and registration of the refugees who arrive daily by thousands.
The migration problem: EU’s nightmare
The refugee crisis has come to a point that is revealing the core inability of the Old Continent to find a common solution and path in order to confront this long-lasting issue. It is clearly a very crucial problem that requires time and discussion.
Only that time is running out fast. The migrants who have arrived to the EU surpass the expected figures of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) and reach 464.876 people since the beginning of this year!, something that makes things even more urgent where a unanimous decision is mandatory.
However, Germany’s move of last Sunday, to impose border controls along its borders with Austria was enough to cause a domino effect and drift along Austria, Slovakia and Hungary that decided to adopt similar actions. More specifically, Austria started checks at the borders with Hungary and Slovakia did the same at the borders of the two aforementioned countries.
But even worse, Hungary declared a state of emergency in the borders with Serbia and imposed a strict law framework for migrants coming into the country, which allows the use of military forces in the south borders.
Germany and EC urge the rest EU countries to help
It seems that Germany and the European Commission are using all the assets in their quivers in order to persuade the EU members who oppose to the mandatory quotas to distribute the refugee flow in a wider range. The EC attempted first to provide significant financial motives to the countries which will decide to receive refugees in their grounds. Nevertheless, that didn’t persuade the EU member states and lead to the failure of the Monday’s meeting.
The next step-urge came from Germany explaining that economic sanctions will be imposed to the countries that will not accept the binding migrants’ quotas. In detail, Karl Ernst Thomas de Maizière, German Interior Minister, mentioned that “there will be cuts in the funding of the countries who deny the quotas”.
However, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in an attempt to calm things down, argued that “threats are not the right way for reaching an agreement”.
It appears that in the end, given that the EU leaders will not come to a common agreement as far as the obligatory quotas are concerned, it will be Germany the one to open its borders and let in most of the refugees. Certainly Mr Schaeuble is not smiling in the idea.
Greece and Italy start mobilizing
The only positive news that came from the gathering of the EU Interior Ministers was the announcement of the creation of one or several hotspots in Italy and Greece. Basically, there will be two main registration hotspots in Catania (Sicily) and Piraeus. There personnel from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), the EU Border Agency (Frontex), the EU Police Cooperation Agency (Europol) and the EU Judicial Cooperation Agency (Eurojust) will be sent in order to provide additional help to the local authorities regarding the registration and reception procedures.
The next step will be the creation of smaller hotspots where the asylum seekers will be directly helped by the EASO whereas migrants who do not require protection will be guided by Frontex who will be in charge of the coordination of the illegal migrants.
All in all, the lesson that the EU has to take stock from the migration crisis is that stronger fundamentals must be built in order for the EU edifice not to start tearing apart in one night. This means that every EU country has to come closer to one another with solidarity and share similar principles and ideals.
The biggest problem though is that solidarity cannot be easily monetised and is against the strict teutonic financial principles that the EU has been flourishing with lately. This time we need political talent, boldness and unity of a political Union that, as many argue, has been lately set as a second priority project.
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