European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to announce his plan on Wednesday to distribute Syrian refugees among European Union states. An EU source with knowledge of the proposal tells PPD that the burden will fall disproportionately on Berlin, Paris and Brussels.
Of the 160,000 refugees flowing in to Italy, Greece and Hungary–primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where the still relatively unchecked Islamic State (ISIS) has sought to expand their control–more than 40,000 will be relocated to Germany; over 30,000 will be relocated to France; and, current but not decided upon proposals put Brussels as the endpoint for 20,000 to 25,000 refugees.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned European Union (EU) members resisting a push to agree to quotas that there will be “consequences” for their decision. Speaking at a press conference, Merkel and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel tried to reassure the German people and EU member states that they are equipped to handle the influx, while criticizing others calling for more thorough vetting processes and debate.
“I am happy that Germany has become a country that many people outside of Germany now associate with hope,” Merkel said at a news conference in Berlin. “This is something to cherish when you look back at our history. What isn’t acceptable in my view is that some people are saying this has nothing to do with them. This won’t work in the long run. There will be consequences although we don’t want that.”
However, in Junker’s plan, entry point countries such as Italy, Greece and Hungary are completely exempt from permanent relocation. Great Britain, of course, is also exempt. To date, London has allowed just 216 Syrians into the country to be relocated, though they have granted roughly 5,000 asylum during four years of the Syrian civil war. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban again voiced his opposition to quotas on Monday, which will be a central focus of Junker’s scheme.
“As long as Europe cannot protect its external borders it makes no sense to discuss the fate of those flowing in,” Prime Minister Orban said. He expressed support for comprehension legislation that would allow the Hungarian army to be deployed to defend the nation’s southern border, said the EU’s plan premature and called for more debate on the issue. Orban, a populist right-wing leader, has taken much criticism for putting Hungarians first.
While Merkel, unlike Orban, is ironically winning high praise from international left-wing and human rights groups, the German leaders coalition partners are less enthusiastic about the government’s past actions and upcoming plans. Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) leader and Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer said no nation, let alone Germany should be expected to take on the burden of the Syria civil war.
“There is no society that could cope with something like this,” CSU leader and Bavarian premier Horst Seehofer said. “The federal government needs a plan here.”
While Merkel’s office did not respond to a request for comment based on the leaked proposal, Vice Chancellor Gabriel did respond to the fracture in the right-wing coalition.
“We should not pretend that this is a small task,” Gabriel said of the crisis. “We need to be realistic. We can take on 800,000 asylum seekers this year, find homes for them and help them integrate. But it should also be clear to everyone that this can’t continue every year. We need a new European asylum policy.”
But critics like Gabriel point to results, not rhetoric. Last month, alone, more than 100,000 reached the borders of Germany, who suspended normal laws by granting not-yet-vetted refugees asylum regardless of where they enter the EU. Naturally, this has made country the preferred target destination for refugees and further exacerbated the crisis. The German government is preparing to accept another 800,000 throughout the remaining months of the year, which would bring the refugee population to around 1% of the entire German public.