Tuesday 25 October 2016

Europe must enforce quotas for refugees - Berlin

Hannah Armonde

Published 19/09/2015 | 02:30

A Syrian refugee is helped ashore after swimming from a dinghy at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos
A Syrian refugee is helped ashore after swimming from a dinghy at a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany's foreign minister says his country may press for the use of "a qualified majority" to force Eastern European countries to accept quotas for migrants

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Frank-Walter Steinmeier said yesterday that EU members reluctant to accept migrant quotas may have to be outvoted and overruled in the 28-member bloc.

"It just cannot be that Germany, Austria, Sweden and Italy carry the burden alone," he said about Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War II. That's not how European solidarity works.

"And if there is no other way, then we should seriously consider to use the instrument of a qualified majority," he told the 'Passauer Neue Presse' daily.

Under the a qualified majority vote, binding decisions can be taken if 55pc of nations representing 65pc of the total population agree.

Controversially, a meeting of EU interior ministers last Monday failed to reach a deal on quotas to distribute 120,000 migrants.

An extraordinary summit of the European Union has been scheduled for next Wednesday in Brussels, following a request by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann.

Germany expects to receive between 800,000 and one million asylum seekers this year, generating extra costs close to €10bn.

Amid a surge of newcomers in recent weeks, Germany, Austria and other members have reimposed identity checks on parts of their borders.

Mr Steinmeier, who flew to Turkey last night to discuss the Syria crisis, also claimed that many refugees had the wrong idea about their chances of being granted asylum in Germany.

"A lot of false information is circulating about the options to obtain asylum in Germany, which we cannot leave unchallenged," he said as his ministry has launched information campaigns on media and in social networks.


This included the misconception Germany has jobs waiting for migrants from Kosovo, and rumours in the Middle East that Germany needs refugees to plug gaps in its labour market.

In his talks in Ankara, Mr Steinmeier said he wanted to offer additional support to Turkey, which has already taken in massive numbers of refugees from Syria.

"Turkey is a key country for dealing with the large refugee crisis and for our political efforts to end the terrible civil war in Syria," he said.

Austria expects around 1,500 migrants to cross its eastern border with Hungary and will allow or deny entry - in line with the "principle of proportionality" - according to whether the migrants wish to request asylum or not, a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Slovenian riot police stood in the path of some 200 migrants trying to enter from Croatia on Friday, after the tiny ex-Yugoslav republic said it was bracing itself to receive 1,000 people in 24 hours.

The migrants walked across a small bridge over the Sutla river in no-man's land, one woman holding a rose, but were blocked by a line of riot police.

A group of Slovenian activists had earlier crossed to the Croatian side, chanting "Refugees, welcome!".

Slovenia's government has said it will accept asylum seekers, but will send back anyone deemed to be an illegal immigrant.

Irish Independent

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