Thursday

26th Apr 2018

French PM: Europe can receive no more refugees

  • Asylum seekers camp out on Croatia-Serbia border in September (Photo: iom.int)

France's prime minister Manuel Valls told several newspapers Tuesday (24 November) he wants Europe to completely halt the influx of migrants from the Middle East, as Sweden announced it would become more strict with asylum seekers.

“We cannot receive more refugees in Europe. It is not possible”, Valls said, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, adding that Europe must control its external borders.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Valls: 'We cannot receive more refugees in Europe. It is not possible' (Photo: Parti Socialiste)

“If we do not do that, then the people will say: it's over with Europe”, noted the centre-left politician.

Valls was careful not to criticise the German chancellor's welcoming policy towards refugees directly, calling it an “honourable choice”. However, he did say that France cannot take more refugees than the 30,000 it has promised to take until the end of 2016 under an EU relocation scheme.

“It was not France that said 'Come!'”, he added. President Francois Hollande is receiving Angela Merkel Wednesday.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, his colleague responsible for France's economy, minister Emmanuel Macron, presented a Franco-German proposal for a €10 billion refugee crisis fund. Macron and his German counterpart, economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, jointly sent Hollande and Merkel their idea for a fund which would pay for tighter security, external border controls, and for looking after refugees, Reuters agency reported.

Macron noted that a joint response was called for.

“The risk is that our people, our political parties, our governments decide to treat this problem separately or even work against each other,” Macron said.

However, tension between EU member states on the refugee crisis continues. Slovakia announced Tuesday it would file its legal case against the relocation scheme before 18 December. The central European country is opposed to the plan, which was agreed in September against the will of Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania.

Also on Tuesday, Denmark announced it would no longer take part in the relocation scheme. Having an “opt-out”, Denmark was not obliged to take in refugees from Italy and Greece, to help reduce pressure there, but it had promised in September to voluntarily take in up to 1,000 people.

Prime minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen has now broken that promise.

“When we made the offer it was because we needed to solve what was viewed in Europe as the ultimate solution: that if you could distribute those 160,000, the problem would be gone. It is not,” said Rasmussen.

In Sweden, a popular destination for asylum seekers, the government announced the situation has become “untenable”.

Prime minister Stefan Lofven told the press Tuesday that Sweden, which expects 190,000 asylum seekers this year, can no longer cope with the influx of migrants.

“Now, to put it bluntly, more people will have to seek asylum and get protection in other European countries,” Lofven said, as quoted by Reuters.

He announced tighter border controls and stricter asylum rules for the next three years, to provide Sweden's asylum system with “breathing space”.

The move prompted neighbouring Norway to tighten border controls as well.

Meanwhile, the migration debate has been influenced by the increased fear of terrorism.

French PM Valls in the interview noted that “public opinion is aware” that at least two of the Paris attackers “entered Europe by mixing in with the refugees”.

That two of almost 860,000 people who have arrived in Europe this year came with malevolent intent may be no statistical surprise, but it has prompted renewed calls to halt migration.

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called on his fellow politicians not to mix terrorists and migrants, but several seem increasingly willing to do that.

On Tuesday, Czech president Milos Zeman said the “danger has come close to our borders”.

“It is naive to think there is no link between the migrant wave and terrorism, because then we would have to assume the migrant wave includes no potential jihadists,” he was quoted by AFP as saying.

Meanwhile, AFP reported Tuesday that over 1,500 people – mostly Iranians, Moroccans, Bangladeshis, and Pakistanis – are waiting at the Greek-Macedonian border, hoping for a policy reversal.

Non-EU member Macedonia decided last week to close its borders to all migrants except those from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, following similar decisions by countries further up the Balkan migration route.

“I will stay here until they let me through,” an Iranian migrant told AFP. “If I return home I will be either jailed or killed.”

Arrivals by boat also continue. On Tuesday 140 people arrived by yacht on the Greek island of Lesbos, and two bodies were found.

France tightens immigration law, sparking division

French lawmakers are cracking down on asylum seekers in a bid to send those rejected back home. Controversial measures they passed over the weekend will now be debated in the French senate in June.

Interview

Spanish NGO boat bosses face jail for rescuing Libya refugees

Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms had its rescue boat seized by Italian authorities in Sicily earlier this month. Three employees have been accused of migrant trafficking and face up to 15 years in jail and huge fines.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  2. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  3. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  6. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  7. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  9. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  10. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  11. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  12. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off

Latest News

  1. EU tells platforms to sort fake news by October or face new law
  2. Civil society chief: social media can't replace engagement
  3. The reality behind the €7 'Brexit bombshell visa'
  4. Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget
  5. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  6. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  7. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs
  8. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  2. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  6. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  9. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  10. European Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  11. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  12. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe