Sunday

22nd Jul 2018

Germany: Refugee crisis is like euro crisis

  • Von der Leyen said German migration policy is combination of "security" and "humanity" (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The migration crisis is like the euro crisis because the solution is for member states to cede more power to the EU, Germany’s defence minister has said.

“The refugee crisis is deja vu to the euro crisis,” Ursula von der Leyen said at the Globsec conference in Bratislava on Friday (15 April).

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.

... our join as a group

  • Zaoralek (r) said the EU should accept "miscellaneous unity" on migration policy (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

“When we introduced the euro, we didn’t have the heart to tell our people … that we’d have to build up new financial infrastructure and to partly give up national sovereignty where finance is concerned to the European level.”

“We had to build up the financial architecture under enormous pressure,” she said.

“I have the same feeling about Schengen and Dublin,” she added, referring to the EU’s internal free-travel area and to its “Dublin” asylum laws.

“We didn’t talk about the other side of the coin - that’s the necessity to have guarantees on how to protect external borders and what is our definition of asylum in Europe,” she said.

“We had many deficiencies in Schengen and Dublin and now, under huge pressure, we have to build up all these things.”

The euro crisis, which Von der Leyen said is “still far” from being solved, prompted the 19 euro-using states to give the European Commission sweeping new powers over national budgets.

The migration crisis prompted the commission to propose a border guard force that could be posted to EU states even if they don’t want it.

It has also proposed permanent quotas for sharing refugees and a new Dublin law for sharing asylum applications.

If enacted, the new laws would partly transfer control of immigration policy from the national to the EU level.

Deja vu

Germany and Greece have been at the heart of both crises.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country paid the lion’s share of eurozone bailouts, led the EU reaction to the financial menace.

She has also led on migration.

She first said asylum seekers were welcome to walk from Turkey to the EU. Then she made a deal with Turkey to crack down on irregular migrants in return for a refugee resettlement scheme.

Greece got three EU bailouts in the euro crisis, but in return EU officials made drastic changes to the Greek economy.

EU states have also agreed to take tens of thousands of refugees from Greece. But Greece was forced to stop them from going to Germany and to let in EU border guards under threat of expulsion from Schengen.

Von der Leyen said on Friday she was “confident we’re on the way to a real European solution.”

But several central European states have rebelled against the German and European Commission ideas.

Responsibility

Speaking also at Globsec, Czech foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek said his government has a “responsibility” to Czech “people” to retain control on immigration.

He said that permanent quotas could, in future years, see the EU force his country to take in “tens of thousands” of north African and Middle East migrants.

“We cannot accept that in the Czech Republic there will be … I don’t know, maybe tens of thousands of people, over which we have no control,” he said.

“We have to guarantee that we can manage this process. It’s our responsibility to the people of the Czech Republic.”

He said the 22 March terrorist attack in Brussels, which is suspected to have been carried out by EU nationals of north African origin, shows the “inability” of “more experienced countries” to “deal with the problem of integration.”

He said the Czech Republic is prepared to take part in “voluntary” refugee resettlement.

But he urged the EU commission to go back to the legal drawing board on its quota proposal. “We have to accept dissenting opinions [in Europe], and not just say: ‘You’re xenophobic’,” he said.

Ghosts

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia also oppose permanent quotas.

Local NGOs, such as Czech group People in Need, have said authorities and media fed popular anti-immigrant fears.

But Zaoralek said that the fear is real and that EU quotas could “destroy the political stage” in the region.

Andrej Kiska, the president of Slovakia, which recently voted a neo-fascist party into parliament, told Globsec that the EU should have a “values-based” migration policy.

But he said Europe’s mishandling of the crisis up till now had “encouraged ghosts from dark corners of our societies … extremism, xenophobia and general suspicion against democracy.”

Tusk says 'alarming' numbers of migrants in Libya

Council chief substantiated concern that more people could cross the Mediterranean to Italy and Malta, and warned that relying on refugee relocations to face migrant flows would be a “mistake”.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. Libyan PM rejects EU migrant camps idea
  2. Italy's Salvini to sue critical anti-mafia writer
  3. EU countries send aircraft to Sweden to help with wildfires
  4. British ex-commissioner's jobs called into question
  5. May to tell EU to drop Irish border 'backstop' idea
  6. Trump threatens EU over Google fine
  7. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  8. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us