Refugee Crisis

Stop Scapegoating Europe

epa04896221 Migrants on the border line between Macedonia and Greece, secured by Macedonian special police forces, wait for permission to cross into Macedonia, near the southern city of Gevgelija, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 24 August 2015. The Macedonian government build a new reception camp for migrants. From the beginning of the year to mid-June 2015, nearly 160,000 migrants landed in the southern European countries, mainly Greece and Italy, on their way to wealthier countries in Western and Northern Europe, according to estimates by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). EPA/GEORGI LICOVSKI +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
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  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Easing Europe’s refugee crisis requires a unified response, but E.U. member states won’t allow Brussels to lead.

  • Facts


    • E.U. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed a system of mandatory quotas that would settle 40,000 refugees across all 28 member states.
    • Great Britain and Eastern European members rejected mandatory quotas as an infringement on national sovereignty.
    • E.U. member states have sought to negotiate voluntary quotas, but have not succeeded.
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Berlin’s policy towards Europe is full of discrepancies.

On the one hand, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government are spending more energy than ever before defending the European Union and the euro against emboldened nationalist forces, including within their own ranks. The vote on the third bailout package for Greece was the most recent example.

Yet shortly after, the same German government spent its energy bashing Europe, doing lasting damage to the image of the European Union’s institutions. If anything goes wrong in Germany, the blame is immediately put on Brussels.

That this unfortunate reflex is alive and well has been demonstrated during the current refugee crisis. Development Minister Gerd Müller thought nothing of accusing the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, of “hesitancy.”

There were also indirect jabs at Brussels. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier criticized the failures of the E.U.’s  asylum policy. The two leading members of the government didn’t explicitly claim that the Commission was responsible. But they did nothing to stop that impression developing in Germany. Ms. Merkel did the same.

In this case, however, Ms. Merkel had every reason to shine a positive light on the work of the authorities in Brussels. The Commission hasn’t sat idly by.

On the contrary, its president Jean-Claude Juncker identified the growing migratory pressure in Europe as one of the biggest challenges of the decade earlier than many others. Shortly after Mr. Juncker’s election to commission president last summer, he declared the E.U.’s immigration policy a political priority during his five-year term.

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