Calls for a unified EU refugees policy grow

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Calls are growing for a complete overhaul of EU asylum rules in the face of unprecedented numbers of refugees seeking entry to the European Union.

Italy, France, and Germany have all stated that a better, more unified policy is necessary to deal with refugees – both economic and migrants. Germany in particular is expected to have more than 800,000 migrants this year.

Many of the refugees are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Libya and Iraq, as well as economic migrants from East Africa. Many seek Germany as their final destination – the country has a reputation for tolerance, as well as being an economic powerhouse.

Under current rules, the country that a migrant first arrives in is responsible for registration and identification procedures. But several countries have claimed that some members simply let migrants through without proper checks.

Italy, France and Germany say this isn’t enough – that refugees, especially in the numbers seen this year, need to be settled across the continent and not just in certain areas.

Germany has stated that if a common policy is not reached, it could threaten the Schengen Zone of passport-free travel within the European Union. This is one of the major features of the EU as it gives people a right to freedom of movement.

Italy in particular has long been an advocate of an EU wide policy on refugees; its location in the Mediterranean means many migrants come to its shores seeking asylum and a better life.

Countries like Hungary and other Eastern European members have expressed a lack of support for such a broad policy on migrants, claiming that they won’t integrate and there will be too many social problems.

An EU-wide policy would certainly help more migrants become identified and documented, in turn helping to assess the scale of the migration – but at a time when many member states are decidedly Eurosceptic, the prospect of union-wide rules on migrants seems a slim possibility.


Image credit: “LE Eithne Operation Triton” by Irish Defence Forces – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.