The recent plans to scrap the EU refugee quota scheme are causing divisions between member states, and it’s feared that it could threaten the unity of nations throughout Europe. Germany, the Netherlands and Italy have criticised the proposals to remove the mandatory quotas, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has described the changes as “aimless, ill-timed and pointless.”
German chancellor Angela Merkel said there “cannot be selective solidarity” among different member states, she claims that “We need solidarity not just in regulating and steering migration, but we also need internal solidarity.” Germany has given refuge to far more than an equal share of asylum seekers, and took over 1 million in 2015 alone.
Tusk’s previously called the quotas “aimless, ill-timed and pointless”, a view which is shared by some Eastern European countries including Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary who are in favour of them being scrapped altogether. Andrej Babis, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic has publicly announced that he didn’t intend to impose the quotas, which he called “nonsensical”.
Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki has also expressed his opposition to the volume of refugees being accepted into Europe, and along with several other countries, has pledged €35 million towards projects to protect the border at Libya in order to reduce the number of migrants travelling the Mediterranean.
Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, welcomed the financial contribution but also said that these countries need to accept more migrants. He said “We will continue to insist that a commitment on the relocation of refugees is needed.” An EU diplomat, who supports the quotas added that it is “time to attack the issue” and that “at this point in time, what I am expecting is a good old bust up and in a later phase we will narrow the field of possible outcomes.”
The European Commission has expressed its frustrations over the issue and ongoing disagreements between member states. Tusk has said he would try to present “a way forward for consideration by leaders” if no overall consensus was made, and judging by the huge variance in opinions across governments, it seems a likely outcome.
The commission has also criticised Tusk’s comments about the quota system being a “failure”, and claims it strongly disagrees with the idea that it has been “ineffective”. A spokesperson commented that “Over 32,000 people have been relocated – over 90% of all those eligible.” They added that “Returning to a pre-crisis mode of isolated, uncoordinated, national action is not an option and would betray years’ worth of collective work to better the collective European response to managing migration.”
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