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The European Refugee Crisis
EU Moves Ahead on Mandatory Refugee Quotas

The European Union’s executive body, the European Commission, is going to move forward on a proposal to impose mandatory refugee quotas on member countries. The New York Times reports:

The proposal for redistributing migrants would be based on a quota system that would take into account factors like the size of a country’s population, the state of its economy and its level of joblessness, European Union officials said.

The plan, which has not been finalized and must be approved by national governments to take effect, is being supported by Germany. Last year, the Germans fielded one-third of the 570,800 asylum claims registered in the European Union, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and they are pressing for other countries to take their share.

The countries in Southern Europe where many of the refugees land, most notably Greece, Italy and Malta, are also pushing hard for other member states to help alleviate the pressure on them.

While it’s understandable that the countries most affected by the wave of refugees and migrants coming from Africa and Syria want some help, the EU’s top-down, several-steps-removed-from-the-people approach seems particularly ill-suited to tackle this problem. Large-scale resettlement of refugees can ultimately only be successful if the existing population is ready to welcome them. Culturally and politically, Europe still has a lot of work to do on that front. A fiat from the least democratic arm of the EU, imposed against the wishes of several member states (Britain and Hungary have already voiced objections that undoubtedly others hold too), seems likely to exacerbate, rather than relieve, the long-term problems associated with this crisis.

The measure also dances with sovereignty issues in ways that go beyond the EU’s already-codified, internal “Freedom of Movement.” It’s likely too that it will inflame tensions between member states (some of whom, like the UK, will have opt-outs, while others won’t) at a time when the state of the European Union is already strained. Within each country, finally, such a mandate will probably increase the appeal of the upstart populist parties, which often combine less than savory pasts and policies with a widely-felt, but otherwise unvoiced, objection to policies such as this.

The Mediterranean crisis is grave, and action is needed. But there are other options. Bureaucrats in Brussels can’t make everyone love, accept, or, perhaps even more importantly, employ one another by fiat—no matter how much they might wish it so.

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  • f1b0nacc1

    Given that Cameron is facing a 2017 referendum on EU membership, this should be fascinating to watch. Immigration is extremely unpopular among most UK voters at this point (though very popular among their elites in both major parties), and unless Cameron is able to get some very large concessions from the EU on this matter, it is likely that he will face very large disruptions in his own party going towards the referendum.
    Should be fun to watch….from a distance….

    • JR

      I think it is very important to distinguish between skilled and un-skilled immigration here. Importing violent jihadis is a horrible horrible idea that will be paid in blood. Importing PhD’s in Physics, pretty good idea. But I agree with you, I think this will cause a LOT of political upheaval, maybe more than people even expect. Having some distant, non-elected entity tell you who gets to live where you have you build your whole life, that’s the type of sh!t that hits at a certain type of person who will push back. The disconnect between elites opinion of what should be done about “refugee crisis” and regular Joe’s opinion is wide, and growing.

      • f1b0nacc1

        You are absolutely correct of course that skilled immigration should be encouraged, but that isn’t what is happening in Britain, and it isn’t what any putative EU directives are going to be about. Deciding how to distribute the burden of incoming peasants and miscreants is a very different matter from trying to cope with an influx of engineers and doctors…

        • JR

          Yup. And that’s why I see a populist revolt against these policies. I wouldn’t be surprised if EU as an entity doesn’t survive this migrant onslaught.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Perhaps…but I think it more likely that the EU will continue more as a transnational nanny state acting as a parasite on healthier societies than anything else.

  • Kevin

    If they push this through it seems likely to drive up the political support of virtually every anti-EU party in Europe. For example, a couple more years of this sort of intervention from the EU and Le Pen’s FN may well win the next French election.

  • Corlyss

    Another stupid self-destructive move from the capital of stupid self-destructive moves.

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