The EU presents new migration strategy

The European Union wants to ensure fairer distribution of refugees among EU member states in future. A provisional quota system is to be introduced by the end of May, the EU Commission announced on Wednesday. At last Europe will have an asylum system that doesn't place the brunt of the burden on just a few states, some commentators write. Others predict that the quotas won't work for several reasons.

Open/close all quotes
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Quota alone won't work

The quotas proposed by the European Commission won't end the refugee catastrophe on the Mediterranean, the liberal-conservative Neue Zürcher Zeitung warns: "Because a quota system doesn't offer migrants an alternative to crossing the sea in smuggler's boats. Only a huge refugee contingent could provide different incentives here. Then there's the practical considerations: to prevent a Syrian who has settled in the Czech Republic from trying his luck on the unofficial job market in Germany will require considerable control efforts and a bureaucratic sanctions regime. ... And since every EU state has its own asylum procedures, issues of equal treatment will also arise: Do you send an Iraqi asylum seeker to an EU state where the number of Iraqis who are granted asylum is particularly high? Or to a country where his chances of obtaining asylum are lower? If the quotas are to work, the standards for asylum procedures and for providing accommodation and care for asylum seekers must also be harmonised."

Právo (CZ) /

Key to solution lies outside Europe

The protest on the part of several EU countries against a quota system for refugees comes as no surprise for the left-leaning daily Právo: "The flood of refugees could fuel political conflicts and raise the influence of far-right parties, which could in turn destabilise the EU as a whole. ... More sensible than quotas would be a military mission in the coastal areas of Libya and the construction of refugee camps there under EU supervision. That could do much to stop organised criminals from exploiting potential refugees. ... A long-term solution is considerably more complicated: to bring that about, the Middle East would have to be politically, economically and militarily stabilised, with extensive humanitarian intervention and development aid with the help of the rich Arab states. ... Then comes the most difficult task: integrating adaptable refugees in a way that will benefit Europe, also bearing in mind our own demographic problems. That will take a long time, and will be expensive and politically unpopular. But there is no alternative."

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Overcome national impulses

The quota system is a serious attempt by the EU Commission to make the member states assume responsibility, writes the business daily Handelsblatt: "Migration is an issue all states must address. It has long since ceased to be a problem that could be managed on a national level. Brussels has announced that it is quitting its bid to regulate trifling matters - think of the oil jug ban - and will focus more on the really important things. With the migration agenda, the Commission is doing just that. The states of the EU should welcome this initiative as an opportunity and finally quell their national impulse to shirk their responsibility. A pan-European asylum system in which not just a handful of states bear the brunt of the burden is long overdue."

Newsweek Polska (PL) /

Poland must also take in refugees

Poland is against a distribution key for asylum seekers within the EU. The liberal news magazine Newsweek Polska calls on Warsaw to change its attitude: "Europe can't afford to do nothing. And not only because such a passive stance would simply be immoral and inhuman. Freedom, democracy and human rights are the foundation on which the entire community lies. Doesn't everyone have the basic right to lead a normal life? What sort of future awaits a civilisation based on freedom that at the same time turns itself into a sealed-off fortress of prosperity? Incidentally, Poles in particular should show more understanding for the refugees from Syria, Libya and Eritrea. Because since the 19th century they too have found refuge abroad when fleeing from hunger, war and political repression at home."