The European Union is deeply divided over the refugee crisis, with unseemly squabbles about the bloc’s incoherent asylum process underlining the lack of political unity on the issue.
This afternoon, the 28-member bloc will begin another attempt to find a way out of the mess, and may reach agreement on relocating 120,000 refugees — only a fraction of those already on the Continent.
While observers say this limited deal — which could be signed by E.U. leaders tomorrow — is likely, it probably won’t include penalty provisions and will rely in part on the good will of countries that are dead set against housing any refugees.
Many experts are skeptical the European Union can overcome its disarray to come up with a common approach on the crisis.
“The likelihood of a deal does not look good at the moment, but nevertheless I think a deal will emerge,” said Christof Roos, a professor of migration and diversity at the Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit, a university in Brussels.
The ministers want to find a way to relocate 120,000 people currently in frontline states Greece, Italy and Hungary.
If they cannot reach a unanimous deal, E.U. interior ministers meeting today could force a deal through by a majority vote.
Enough countries are reportedly in favor of the proposal to form a majority, although every effort will be made to reach a compromise.
“This is a difficult thing to do, because it affects a theme of national importance, but it is possible now,” Mr. Roos told Handelsblatt Global Edition.
According to Brussels-based news website the EUObserver, which has seen a draft proposal to be discussed today, plans to impose financial penalties on countries that refused to take in refugees have been dropped.