Author: Gracie Webb | mironline.ca | 21 January 2019
Three years after the peak of the refugee crisis, the EU is struggling more than ever to cope. Although arrivals have returned to pre-2015 levels, issues surrounding asylum seekers in Europe are as volatile as ever. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is emblematic of the divide, facing conflicting criticisms from her own government and a host of other EU member states. She was forced to make compromises to limit refugee acceptances at an EU Summit in Brussels in July 2018, after her interior minister Horst Seehofer threatened to resign amidst disagreements over immigration policy, in particular his plan to close the border to refugees who had already applied for asylum in another EU country. His resignation almost certainly would have signaled the end of the coalition between his party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and Merkel’s own, the Christian Democratic Union.
The crisis, once entirely about the refugees, has led to disagreements and accusations within the EU. As some countries- Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic- flatly refuse to open their borders, other closer and more accessible border countries like Greece and Italy are struggling under the weight of new arrivals. Western Europe is reluctant to share this burden. In Germany, the crisis is instrumental in the government’s internal fragmentation. As populist governments gain support in Europe and elsewhere, refugees are becoming increasingly unwelcome. The inability of the EU to make decisions concerning distribution, asylum procedures, and courses of action in the face of such divergent goals on the part of its member states has resulted in repercussions for both the countries and the refugees themselves, thousands of whom continue to suffer in overcrowded border camps. Read more>>>