Europe’s chaotic refugee crisis

Germany’s Angela Merkel and French leader François Hollande have announced a ten-point plan to tackle Europe's refugee crisis.

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President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel's ten-point plan faces stiff winds

More refugees are trying to get into Europe now than at any other time since World War II. Most are fleeing war and tyranny in Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. On Monday, Germany's Angela Merkel and French leader Franois Hollande announced a ten-point plan based on the resettlement of genuine asylum seekers by quota across the European Union. Merkel is determined to get other nations to accept more refugees, but she will "face stiff headwinds", says The Times.

Bulgaria has erected 50 miles of razor wire along its frontier with Turkey, now home to around two million Syrian refugees. Hungary is "fortifying" its 100-mile border with Serbia. Slovakia has said it will only take Christians. Britain, which is not a member of Europe's 30-year-old passport-free Schengen zone and is fencing off parts of Calais, has the "right to opt out of any joint plan" and has indicated that it will do so.

Mainland Europe's Schengen zone, already under "political strain" as a result of migrants arriving in Italy and Greece and trying to move north, has been dealt another blow by the foiled terrorist attack on a French train last week, says Matthew Holehouse in The Daily Telegraph. Belgian prime minister Charles Michel has called for reinstating identity and luggage inspections, claiming they could be compatible with Schengen.

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Security fences and dogs won't deter those desperate enough to risk life to get to Europe, says Natalie Nougayrede in The Guardian. The refugee flow will be "a fact of life for years to come". Europe has a moral obligation to help. Self-interest enters the equation too. Germany is well placed to take the lead it was the first country to suspend the 1990 Dublin Regulation which says refugees must seek asylum in the first European country they set foot in, declaring all Syrian asylum seekers welcome.

Applications to stay in Germany will reach a record 800,000 this year. But alongside humanitarian motives, Merkel is being pragmatic. The country's population is set to fall by 18 million by 2060. It needs migrants. So does the rest of the EU, whose working population is set to shrink by 13 million by 2030.

The ten-point plan beats the "chaotic and arbitrary status quo", but it is still inadequate, says The Times. A system that guarantees resettlement "can only strengthen the pull factor'". There is "no shortage" of alternative strategies that shift the emphasis to curbing migration at source. The upheavals in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa present the EU with "an unprecedented challenge to its identity, its administrative muscle and its ability to combine compassion with hard-headed problem solving The debate has hardly begun."

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 


On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.