mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
The European Immigration Crisis
Standing Athwart the Balkans, Yelling Stop

Are the wheels falling off the European bus? Operating outside the EU’s structures and in defiance of the supposedly comprehensive plan embraced by Brussels and Berlin, ministers from ten nations met in Vienna yesterday and voted to restrict migrant flows through the Balkans. The New York Times reports:

Among the measures was an agreement to grant entry to the 10 countries only to those “in proven need of protection,” which would essentially limit passage to Iraqis and Syrians and exclude Afghans and people from countries where the main problems are economic.

The ministers also agreed to set standards for what kind of information migrants would need to provide to be registered in their countries, to recognize formally that each state was responsible for protecting its borders, and to offer support to Macedonia, whose border with Greece has become the latest focal point for migrants trying to make their way to Germany and other prosperous Northern European nations.

This all sounds pretty reasonable—except that stopping the migrant flows by cutting off the route through the Balkans will leave one EU member-state out in the cold: Greece, which would then be on the hook for dealing with migrant influxes. So Athens—which didn’t receive an invitation—recalled its ambassador to Austria, a diplomatic move that is usually reserved for expressing real anger.

Meanwhile, President Viktor Orban of Hungary announced that his government would hold a national referendum on the EU’s refugee redistribution quotas. These quotas are supposedly mandatory under EU law, but increasingly the spirit of the day is “so how are you gonna make me?” The referendum question is reportedly going to be, “Do you want the European Union to prescribe the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the consent of parliament?”

These developments seem at first brush substantially to raise the stakes of the EU’s internal debate on migrant policy. The entire point of the European Union is to coordinate Continent-wide responses to problems that cannot be handled just at the state level, to avoid the kind of intra-European acrimony on display here, and to make sure everyone plays by the same set of rules. But it’s been clear for some time now that Brussels—and Berlin, as Germany is clearly the top dog in the EU right now—has not been up to the challenge posed by the migrant crisis. Worse, many member states see the threat that crisis poses as so existential as to be worth contradicting the rules of the club. What happens next will be vitally important for the EU’s long-term future.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Jim__L

    “So Athens—which didn’t receive an invitation—recalled its ambassador to Austria, a diplomatic move that is usually reserved for expressing real anger.”

    OK, why is it that you don’t think the anger is real here?

    The problem is not that Germany “has not been up to the challenge posed by the migrant crisis.” The problem is that the philosophical system of the elites is not up to the challenge here, on many fronts, from domestic policy to foreign / military policy.

    It’s not the EU that’s coming apart at the seams as a result of popular anger, here. In fact, if the EU were run with a different philosophy (Europeans looking after their own), this could *strengthen* the EU. Again, the problem is that the philosophy of the elites is unworkable.

  • Andrew Allison

    “Among the measures was an agreement to grant entry to the 10 countries only to those “in proven need of protection,” which would essentially limit passage to Iraqis and Syrians and exclude Afghans and people from countries where the main problems are economic.” nails it. If the EU keeps its borders open to economic migrants, it will drown in them. Furthermore, while the EU has a duty to assist the processing of migrants, restricting the flow to a single country doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Incidentally, please keep in mind that Schengen applies only to legal residents. And of course the wheels are coming off the EU!

  • Beauceron

    The elite running most countries (including both parties in the US and certainly the EU) don’t give a damn about their peoples. In fact, I am coming to the realization that they might actually hate our guts.

    If a handful of leaders are actually willing to listen to their people, then more power to them.

    Here in the US I think the game is over. Neither party will stop or even slow mass immigration and now immigrants have become such a large part of the population they wield an increasing amount of political power– and what they want is more immigration for their groups so they get even stronger.

    As an American who is watching his country be destroyed, I would say this to Europeans: if you don’t stand up against your leaders, you will lose your country. It really is that dire; it really is existential.

    • Jim__L

      And the Elites aren’t even getting the point, as Trump keeps winning…

      I wonder if they’ll get the point before he gets sworn in?

      • f1b0nacc1

        Oh, the get the point….but if they act upon it, it is their demise, and they cannot accept that. Remember what Lucifer said, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”…

        • Jim__L

          How exactly is having to dance to President Trump’s tune “reigning”?

          • f1b0nacc1

            Perhaps I am unclear….
            The Elites wish to rule, even if they fail and their failures result in having to rule in hell (a shrunken GOP in permanent opposition status) rather than server in a victorious GOP.
            Mind you, I don’t like either result, to be honest, but I suspect my options here are limited

        • CapitalHawk

          Yes, they get it. They just hope they can tough it out long enough for them to fully get a new electorate in place so they can forever after ignore those irritating people they don’t like in “flyover country”.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Yep, that would seem to be the plan

    • Fat_Man

      “I am coming to the realization that they might actually hate our guts.”

      Bingo.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service