Tuesday

16th Jul 2019

France confirms it will receive 30,000 refugees

  • Pro-refugee rally in Paris in September (Photo: Serge klk)

France will receive 30,000 refugees in the next two years, president Francois Hollande confirmed Wednesday (18 November).

The figure had first been announced by prime minister Manuel Valls in September.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But what had been interpreted as French reluctance to play its part in relieving other countries facing massive arrivals can now, in the wake of Friday's Paris terror attacks, be seen as a political gesture.

"Some want to establish a link between the influx of refugees coming from the Middle-East and the terrorist threat," Hollande noted in a speech to the congress of French mayors.

"The truth is that this link exists, because inhabitants of areas in Iraq and Syria are fleeing because they are being murdered by those who are attacking us today."

Hollande reminded his listeners that "France accepted playing its part in showing solidarity towards these refugees and towards Europe" and confirmed that "30,000 will be welcomed in the next two years".

In September, Valls said on TV that "France will not take more than 30,000 asylum seekers."

"We have to show solidarity, generosity, humanity … but at the same time, we have to master" the flow, he said.

"We cannot welcome to Europe all those who flee dictatorship in Syria."

On Wednesday, however, Hollande stressed that the "duty of humanity towards the refugees goes hand in hand with the duty to protect the French people".

He said that France will continue to "do the necessary checking before accepting refugees on [its] territory".

Hollande's declaration comes as voices in France and Europe called for a change in EU refugee policy.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen called Monday to "immediately stop receiving migrants" and to "scatter" on French territory those already present.

On Wednesday, the new Polish right-wing prime minister Beata Szydlo renewed criticism over the EU refugee relocation mechanism.

"Attempts to export a problem that certain countries have themselves created without the input of other members cannot be called solidarity," Szydlo said in her first address to parliament.

Her EU affairs minister, Konrad Szymanski, said on Saturday that "in the face of the tragic events in Paris, Poland sees no political possibilities for implementing the decision on the relocation of refugees".

The views of the new Polish government echo those of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

"In light of this terror attack, Brussels cannot challenge the right of member states to defend themselves," Orban said. "Mandatory resettlement quotas are dangerous because they would spread terrorism across Europe."

In Germany, Bavaria's conservative finance minister, Markus Soeder, said Sunday that Europe "must protect itself better from enemies who will stop at nothing."

“The era of uncontrolled immigration and illegal immigration cannot go on like this. Paris changes everything," he said in an interview to the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Germany's federal defense minister Ursula Von der Leyen, however, also a conservative, retorted that "we must not make the mistake of equating refugees with terrorists."

The same position was expressed by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

In the Czech republic, the social-democrat president Milos Zeman did not refer to the attacks. On Tuesday, though, he joined a meeting organized by an anti-Islam group and attended by Germany's Pegida movement.

"People should not be put in opinion straightjackets and should be able to think differently," he said at the meeting.

According to figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 3,802 migrants entered Greece, their main first country of arrival in Europe, on Wednesday alone.

Opinion

EU needs US-type refugee screening

The US system for security screening of migrants is said to be too tough. But unless the EU system gets tougher, it will only feed populist fears.

Agenda

EU still in Paris' shadow This WEEK

Fellow euro states, at a ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Monday, are expected to disburse the next tranche in the Greek bailout.

News in Brief

  1. Ansip's ex-cabinet chief to head EU cybersecurity agency
  2. Malta starts trial of journalist murder suspects
  3. Full text of von der Leyen candidacy speech to MEPs
  4. Von der Leyen open to further Brexit delay
  5. Von der Leyen promises carbon border tax
  6. Brexit: both UK PM candidates say Irish backstop is 'dead'
  7. Mogherini: Iran's nuclear enrichment 'reversible'
  8. Report: Selmayr to leave 'next week'

EU guilty of Libya migrant 'tragedy', ICC lawsuit says

EU states' efforts to "deter" migrants from Libya have helped kill more than 14,000 people and exposed 40,000 others to "crimes against humanity", according to a lawsuit filed in The Hague on Monday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. European Commission has first ever woman president
  2. Son: Malta trial for murdered journalist 'not enough'
  3. Von der Leyen's final appeal to secure top EU post
  4. EU talks tough on Turkey, but arms sales go on
  5. The Abortion Exodus - more Poles and Croats going abroad
  6. Poland's ex-PM loses EU parliament chair again
  7. Von der Leyen reaches out to left and liberal MEPs
  8. Farmers among new MEPs deciding on EU farming money

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us