Refugee girl on train tracks Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

Bringing Europe’s Migration Crisis Under Control

The EU’s first expulsion of refugees has exposed the fundamental flaws in its new migration policy. While the forcible return of asylum-seekers to Turkey has caught the world’s attention, an equally troubling issue has hardly been discussed: the underfunding of Europe’s response to the crisis.

LONDON – The asylum policy that emerged from the European Union’s negotiations last month with Turkey became effective on April 4, when 202 asylum-seekers were deported from Greece. The policy has four fundamental flaws.

  • It was negotiated with Turkey and imposed on the EU by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • It is severely under-funded.
  • It is not voluntary, for it establishes quotas that many member states oppose and requires refugees to take up residence in countries where they don’t want to live.
  • It transforms Greece into a de facto holding pen with insufficient facilities for the number of asylum-seekers already there.

All of these deficiencies can be corrected. The European Commission implicitly acknowledged some of them on April 6 in a new set of proposals for reforming Europe’s asylum system. But the Commission’s proposals still rely on compulsory quotas. That will never work. Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans is inviting an open debate.

A comprehensive asylum policy for Europe, I believe, should establish a firm and reliable annual target of 300,000-500,000 refugees. This is large enough to give refugees the assurance that they can eventually reach their destination, yet small enough to be accommodated even in today’s unfavorable political climate.

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