EU at odds over refugee quotas
The European Commission will present plans for a quota system that distributes refugees among the 28 member states on Wednesday. Several countries oppose the initiative. This is the right response to the refugee crisis, some commentators note approvingly. Others argue that Brussels is overstepping its competence on the issue.
Quota system a fair solution
The EU's plan for a fairer distribution of refugees among member states deserves support, the Christian-social daily Trouw comments: "If the EU wants to prevent the Mediterranean from becoming a mass grave the 28 member states must take measures they would prefer to avoid. A fair distribution of refugees among all the member states is an important example. If this doesn't happen the joint solution to the tragedies occurring off Europe's southern coast is doomed to failure right from the outset. … Mare Nostrum - as part of a larger package of measures - can only be given another chance under a pan-European flag. And that requires a pan-European asylum policy. … The European Commission's proposal is a just approach. No European government should have any objections to it."
Juncker overstepping his competence
Distributing refugees all over Europe is the wrong response to the tragedies on the Mediterranean and it's no business of Brussels anyway, the conservative daily The Times criticises: "This is a bad idea on several levels. First and foremost, removing people from warzones and farming them off around Europe is simply not what the EU's role should be. Rather it should seek to support migrants in their country or at least region of origin, helping with temporary refugee camps or relocation nearby. More importantly, while individual countries may certainly absorb as many refugees as they wish, Mr Juncker punches well above his paygrade in presuming to make such decisions for them."
Countries will not reach agreement
Even before Juncker has formally presented his plans there is already fierce opposition to them in the UK. Agreeing on a quota system will be a difficult process, the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung predicts: "Every government will work out precisely whether the system means more or less immigrants for it. Because as things stand now a number of member states take in only relatively few refugees, the prospects of them reaching an agreement are not very good. Germany too, which has to take in the most applicants in terms of absolute numbers, mustn't expect too much of these negotiations. Depending on how individual factors like population or economic strength are weighted it could end up with an even larger number of asylum seekers."
London forcing flexible refugee policy on EU
Britain has announced that it will reject all EU proposals for a quota system. Brussels won't antagonise London, the liberal daily La Stampa predicts: "To keep the nation together Cameron must score a few victories in Brussels. But it's also a fact that a Europe without Britain (a Brexit scenario), would be left weakened in certain key economic sectors. So Cameron needs Brussels and vice versa. Therefore we can safely conclude that the European refugee strategy will be based on the partial solidarity of certain countries. This means that as of tomorrow the future of the EU will be characterised more than ever by flexible integration. And that in turn means that only stronger cooperation among a few countries, from which other member states can be exempted, will give the Old Continent any chance of survival."