EU states for sealing borders ahead of asylum summit

Ahead of the EU summit at the end of the week resistance is growing to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposal of a quota system for distributing refugees. The fact that large and prosperous countries such as France have now stopped toeing the line leaves commentators increasingly sceptical about the future cohesion of the EU.

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Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

Europe will capitulate to refugees

Europe won't collapse because of the refugee crisis, but it will eventually capitulate, the centre-left Berliner Zeitung predicts:

“Europe seemed to be on the verge of breaking up over refugee quotas. By now it is clear that there will be no agreement on quotas, but no one is declaring this is the end of the EU any more. … The refugees will not destroy Europe. On the contrary, Europe will close ranks in the fight against this external enemy. Border guards from all over the EU will be deployed to the peripheral states to keep out those seeking refuge. They will be armed and they will have to shoot. 'That,' we will say, 'is the price we have to pay for our freedom.' In this sense, then, there will be a lot more Europe than there is today. But when we have this Europe, we will have failed. Because that means Europe has surrendered.”

L´Hebdo (CH) /

Role reversal between Paris and Berlin

Paris is resisting the quotas for the distribution of refugees proposed by Berlin - a conflict that could have drastic consequences, warns Gilbert Casasus in his blog for the weekly paper L'Hebdo:

“The French Socialist government seems to prefer a conservative policy in this respect, while the German government, led by a conservative, is pursuing a left-wing policy. Even if luckily Franco-German relations have not always reflected party and national agendas, this reversal of roles could end up being bad for Europe. The Eurosceptics have already landed the EU in a crisis, which must not be exacerbated by the pro-Europeans. Because aside from other states like Italy, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands, the European Union can only count on France and Germany to save it from the mess into which a horde of Eurosceptics has got it.”

Contributors (RO) /

Valls' opposition spells the end for Schengen

The opposition on the part of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is the beginning of the end for the Schengen Agreement, the Romanian political scientist Valentin Naumescu writes on blog portal Contributors:

“After France's surprising break with Germany it is practically a certainty that the Schengen Agreement will be suspended or amended. Germany has no choice but to close its borders now. To be clear: the Schengen Agreement won't be abolished but in keeping with good old European tradition it will be subjected to a number of 'amendments' and 'reforms' that will make it virtually unrecognisable for what it was. Then the whole thing will be presented to the public as the product of hugely successful negotiations, all in keeping with the European spirit. Basically Schengen II will be the first step towards the end of the EU's golden era. ”

New Statesman (GB) /

Britain ignoring refugee crisis

Britain's role in the EU's search for a solution to the refugee crisis has been particularly shameful so far, politician Diane Abbott comments in the New Statesman's politics blog The Staggers:

“The British government is turning a blind eye to the humanitarian fallout in Europe from the civil war in Syria. Its arms-length refugee policy involves raising money to spend in 'the region', a euphemism for paying off the states that neighbour Syria to keep refugees within their territory. … The UK expects Lebanon, a country half the size of Wales which hosts more refugees than in the whole of Europe combined, to do more. It expects Jordan, a nation with a one of the world’s highest youth unemployment rates, to create jobs for its 1.4 million refugees. And it expects Turkey to use a €3 billion EU pot to somehow stop refugees from leaving its camps for Europe. ... Britain must stop ignoring the European migration emergency.”

La Croix (FR) /

Paris leaves its partners in the lurch

The Catholic daily La Croix has harsh words for Paris's stance:

“The only alternative proposed by Manuel Valls is to shift the problem onto Syria's neighbours, which are already in huge difficulties. Since the start of the refugee crisis last summer, the government has done next to nothing to come up with a European refugee policy. It has left its most needy partners in the lurch. The government is worried about the electoral impact of these problems and faces huge difficulties, notably in Calais. As a result it is playing into the hands of the sovereigntist governments of Central Europe and populist parties of all stripes. The growing crisis has exacerbated feelings of nationalist chauvinism and poses a serious threat to the Schengen area and the European project. We must regain a sense of solidarity.”

Sme (SK) /

Visegrád states ready to fight

The heads of government of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia will meet today in Prague to discuss the refugee crisis. With their plans to block the Balkan Route on the border between Greece and Macedonia they will only increase the division of the EU, the liberal daily Sme criticises:

“Will the four Visegrád states score the perfect own-goal? In any event, with the formation of an opposition platform in the refugee crisis they will only complicate their own position. Others have long been talking of a 'mini-Schengen' or a 'two-speed Europe'. ... The V-4, however, are fascinated by the idea of pursuing their own 'grand policy' and thus only reaffirming the division of Europe. The fact that Merkel and the German diplomats are not personally attacking the V-4 politicians doesn't mean they're about to forget all about them. ... Prime Minister Robert Fico doesn't have the slightest idea how much damage he is inflicting on Slovakia.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Merkel still has the chance to secure backing

Angela Merkel will have to meet other EU countries halfway if she wants to have any chance of influencing EU asylum policy, the centre-right daily Der Tagesspiegel believes:

“True leadership includes defending unpopular convictions. Fighting windmills, by contrast, is not a sign of strength. There is one option for how Europe can avoid being overrun by mass immigration that stands a chance of being backed by a majority. Only it is not Merkel's option. ... For Merkel that means: leadership without followers is untenable. She must modify her solitary position and seek to return to the centre of the EU's opinion spectrum. If she seeks a workable balance between protecting the EU's external borders and allowing restricted access to migrants, the partners will follow her lead.”