Refugee distribution by majority decision
The interior ministers of the EU pushed through on Tuesday the distribution of 120,000 refugees among member states against the votes of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. While some commentators see this as a step towards a common EU policy on asylum, others fear that the majority decision on this major issue may leave the EU divided for good.
A first step towards a common EU asylum policy
An agreement on the distribution of the 120,000 refugees is the first test on the path to a common EU asylum and immigration policy, comments the liberal website Zeit Online: "That includes the permanent distribution of the newcomers according to fixed quotas as well as harmonised asylum and provision standards and quotas for taking in work migrants from regions like the Balkans. It also includes registration and reception centres on external borders, and their surveillance. But above all a replacement must be found for the Dublin Regulation, which has utterly failed. … [All this] would be a step towards getting the migration movement back under control and preventing individual countries, including Germany, from becoming completely overburdened. The interior ministers' decision could be a first step in that direction."
Czech Republic can cope with refugees
Prague only has itself to blame for its defeat at the meeting of the EU interior ministers, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny believes: "A team that's beaten 4:23 in sports has done something wrong - both in the attack and in the defence. ... Our defence was naive and weak. No one could take us seriously when we said that the quotas made no sense because all the migrants wanted to go to Germany or Sweden anyway. ... It makes no difference if the quotas mean three or ten thousand refugees for the Czech Republic. We're a self-assured country that will have no problem absorbing one or two people from other cultures for every thousand Czechs. That's something we've already grown used to with the Vietnamese and Ukrainians. We're a happy country that happens to be located in a happy part of the world. And for that reason we can afford to be generous - the way Europe was generous to us after 1989."
You can't enforce solidarity
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico vehemently rejected the quota regulation on Tuesday evening, saying that Slovakia won't implement the plan as long as he's in power. The left-leaning daily Pravda supports Fico's stance: "The quota won't do anything to ease the crisis. On the contrary, human traffickers can rub their hands in delight. The migrants know that the EU will take them in, and that in the worst case they'll get sent to one of the poorest post-communist countries. ... In a few months the discussion will presumably revolve around the real problem - the protection of the EU's external borders. But we're losing valuable time in all this, because more and more refugees are arriving every day. No one can force countries to show solidarity. On the other hand we would now have a better bargaining position if our government had willingly taken in migrants."
EU opts for division
The decision reached by the EU interior ministers is understandable in view of the refugee crisis but it puts the entire Union at stake, the liberal daily La Stampa warns: "Faced with the choice between paralysis and rupture, the EU seems to have opted for division - a decision that has yet to be ratified by the EU leaders on Wednesday. The meeting of the EU leaders promises to be not only agitated but traumatic. Because no one is unaware of the traumatic impact the formation of a majority and minority on an issue of vital importance for the EU entails. … The victims of the cruel Syrian civil war are not to blame, but without a jointly agreed and viable solution their crisis is becoming Europe's crisis. A Europe that is incapable of meeting the challenge in unity and that may be doomed to pay a high price - both in terms of stability and security and regarding its own future."