Refugees: Merkel and Hollande for more Europe
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande made a joint call for more solidarity in the refugee crisis on Wednesday in the European Parliament. The German-French tandem is functioning once more and will save Europe, some commentators write enthusiastically. Others call on the two to provide concrete solutions instead of pretty words.
German-French duo can save continent
It's a good sign that Merkel and Holland are presenting a common front, the centre-left daily El País comments: "As history shows, the chances of overcoming any problem multiply when Europe's two motors of growth team up. … As Merkel stressed yesterday, only with the joint impulse from Berlin and Paris can a new system for distributing refugees be established and - more importantly - the causes that compel millions of people to leave their home countries be combated. The refugee crisis is among the most urgent challenges the continent now faces and if it is mismanaged Europe could be in for serious problems. But the real problem that threatens to destroy Europe is the advance of nationalism and populism. Merkel and Hollande made that clear yesterday."
Nothing new on asylum policy
The Franco-German duo's performance was disappointing in the eyes of the liberal business daily Il Sole 24 Ore: "No concrete announcements. Nothing new on asylum policy apart from the confirmation that Dublin is dead. The selective silence made more noise than what was actually said. They remained silent on certain issues to avoid exposing the divergences in the German-French dialogue. Merkel preferred to overlook those divergences, signalling at most general support for the French president. Because she doesn't agree with his stance and because she is convinced that in today's Europe of 28 members there is hardly any leeway for progress on reforming the EU treaties and increasing the EU budget. And because the chancellor is watching her political credibility dwindle - her popularity is sinking and her party is criticising her handling of the refugee crisis while the anti-immigration parties are gaining support."
The Europe we need more of
The refugee crisis can only be managed through deeper European integration, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande stressed on Wednesday addressing the European Parliament. But what does more Europe mean? the conservative daily Lidové noviny asks, and postulates: "Yes, we need more Europe, if in addition to noble ideals its identity comprises the will and the strength to defend itself. More Europe means not just keeping the Schengen Area, but also protecting it. When Hollande calls for the outer borders to be made more secure by boosting the defence of the states on the EU's periphery he is inadvertently agreeing with Hungary and the other Visegrád states who are giving Budapest more than just moral support. We need more of a Europe that not only shows solidarity with the afflicted but also takes a hard line against people smugglers and those who are not and never were under threat."
Hopefully Europe will listen to the two
Merkel and Hollande appealed to the Europeans' conscience and urged them not to abandon the continent's basic values. The liberal daily Eesti Päevaleht hopes Europe will listen: "Estonia must cross its fingers and hope that the leaders of Germany and France will find the strength to stick to their ideals. The worst scenario for small states would be the collapse of the Schengen system, one of the most visible hallmarks of the European Union. ... Apart from taking in a couple of hundred people, no one is expecting much more than symbolic gestures from Estonia. These are meant to help the big EU states convince their voters that other states are demonstrating solidarity in these difficult times. ... Merkel and Hollande reminded those willing to listen of the basic ideals that have brought unprecedented prosperity to Europe. But they spoke with weary voices. If their message falls on deaf ears, such speeches will be replaced by those of ultranationalist leaders like Le Pen or Geert Wilders."