Efforts to resettle refugees across Europe are hitting a snag: the refugees aren’t on board with the program. Reuters reports:
“We are prepared to accept refugees immediately, but there are no refugees in Italy or Greece who agreed to resettle in Lithuania,” Rimantas Vaitkus, deputy chancellor of the Lithuanian government told Reuters on Monday.
Lithuania has agreed to settle 1,105 refugees in the next two years, mostly from Italy and Greece, according to European Commision proposals which foresaw relocation of a total of 160,000 people.
“It seems that refugees know about Sweden, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, which either have generous social security or have been actively attracting immigrants,” said Vaitkus.
Indeed they do. And that raises the second part of the problem: the Schengen Zone. Under this system, anyone in Europe is free to move from country to country, including to resettle for purposes of work, at will. And, as critics suggested months ago but EU officials are starting to put together, that could render redistribution quotas moot:
In an interview with Spanish daily El País, EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Johannes Hahn said, “The real challenge is that refugees agree to be sent to this or that country [under the Commission’s quota scheme]. All the refugees that come to Europe cannot just go to Germany, Sweden or Austria. If you are fleeing because you fear for your life and your destination is Europe, you need to understand that, according to a quota, you have to go to this or that country and, in principle, you have to stay there.”
Brussels is currently promising two incompatible things. It’s telling the Germans they won’t have to host every immigrant that wants to come their way, because redistribution quotas will be mandatory, and it’s also telling the immigrants they’ll be welcomed, accepted, and integrated. But fully integrated Europeans can move to Germany or Sweden if they want to. And there’s the rub: over a million newcomers are expected this year, and the Germans have made it clear they can’t or won’t take them all. Absent some sort of mechanism to make sure the resettled refugees stay resettled, the quotas will be a dead letter. And with such a mechanism in place, the Schengen Zone ceases to exist.
Europe may soon have to choose between the two.