Brussels presents refugee quotas
The European Commission firmed up its plans for refugee quotas on Wednesday. 40,000 people are to be transferred to other states from Greece and Italy. The opposition of many countries to taking in migrants is selfish, some commentators criticise. Others believe the proposed quotas could overburden smaller countries.
1000 refugees too much for Estonia
According to the European Commission's proposal Estonia would have to take in more than 1,000 refugees from the Mediterranean area in a year. The tabloid Õhtuleht fears that Estonian society is not ready for this influx: "The number of newcomers amounts to the population of a small town and would pose a challenge to our social welfare system and the sympathy of the people. In solving the refugee problem, provoking new tensions and concerns in the member states should be avoided. Unfortunately the EU Commission's proposal utterly fails to take into account our country's practical ability to take in the refugees. The EU Commission has proposed that Estonia takes 1.76 percent of the refugees, whereas Estonia's population accounts for just 0.26 percent of the EU. The seven times higher refugee quota is proof that Brussels has far higher expectations of our ability to take in the refugees than we do."
Slovenia can cope with a few hundred refugees
Slovenia would have to take in around 700 refugees according to the quota system. The liberal daily Večer sees this as doable: "Whether the Slovenian state can take in 700 refugees is of course a rhetorical question. In the times of the Balkan wars we were able to take in a hundred times that many despite the lower living standards. If the politicians try to tell us now that the current figure is too high for our struggling country, we really should start worrying. The next stage will be that the politicians can't cope with their own citizens. However a few hundred unlucky souls who don't belong to Slovenia's culture and aren't Christians could also provoke a new surge of political nationalism and xenophobia. Slovenia's political culture is far from immune to such sentiment."
Prague's lack of solidarity on refugee issue
According to the EU Commission's proposal, the Czech Republic should take in just under two thousand refugees. But almost the entire political class in Prague vehemently rejects the idea, the conservative daily Lidové noviny laments: "The parties are saying almost with one voice that quotas are no solution. But unfortunately no one is saying what the solution is supposed to look like. And that in a country that produced exiles in several large waves, and which in the past ten years has received the equivalent of 15 billion euros in EU funds from the other states of Europe. ... Within the EU we're neither a small country nor a poor one. ... If we reject quotas in principal, then we must also say what solution we propose instead. Will we send our soldiers to the Mediterranean? Are we ready to set up refugee camps on the African coast? These questions are neither provocative nor purely rhetorical. That would only be the case if we had decided to join Europe as stowaways."
Eastern Europe's governments are short-sighted
The states of the EU are taking a far too short-sighted view of the refugee problem, the centre-right daily Die Presse criticises: "Anyone who thinks a step or two further on this issue - and that's exactly what even those Eastern European countries that are now opposing the distribution of refugees should be doing - should keep an eye on political developments in Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. What if war spreads there and millions of people flee these countries in the direction of the EU? Then Poland, Slovakia and Hungary will suddenly be overrun by a flood of refugees and demand the selfsame solidarity that they are now refusing to give. Today many are saying the EU shouldn't get too involved in this region. Perhaps they will then say the EU has done too little to bring peace there."