03:05 GMT15 April 2021
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned East European states - such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - they risk legal action for refusing to take part in the refugee relocation plan that has divided Europe.

    European Parliament
    © Flickr / European Parliament
    The European Commission has faced major opposition to its plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece ever since the plan was first discussed in June. It was finally agreed in September that the refugees would be relocated across Europe under a quota system, however — so far — fewer than 200 have been moved amid disagreements over the mandatory quota system.

    Many East European countries are refusing to take in an allocated quota, which is based on a formula that considers: the size of the population (40%), total GDP (40%), the average number of asylum applications over the previous four years (10%) and the unemployment rate (10%).

    However, the leaders of the Visegrad Group — the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia declared in September that they will not accept any compulsory long-term quota on redistribution of immigrants.

    ​"If two or three thousand people who do not want to be here are forced into Czech Republic, it is fair to assume that they will leave anyway. The quotas are unfair to the refugees, we can't just move them here and there like cattle," said the Czech Government Secretary for European Affairs.

    According to Der Spiegel magazine, Steinmeier warned the East European state:

    "If it can't be done any other way, then things will have to be clarified using judicial means."

    His comments were echoed by Austria's Chancellor Werner Faymann who said funding and subsidies from the EU for eastern states could be cut.

    Agreements Ignored

    The argument goes to the root of the European Union dream of a borderless Europe. Under the Schengen agreement, 26 nations took down border controls between their countries and stopped border checks, passport controls and security checks.

    However, the mass movement of people out of war-torn countries — particularly Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq — has exposed deep flaws in the Schengen system.

    First, the external borders have been exposed as being weak — with hundreds of thousands crossing into Europe and traveling unchecked. Second, the Dublin rules — under which refugees must be processed in the Schengen country of arrival — have been ignored, with refugees moving straight to destination countries where many of them remain to be processed.

    ​Third, the rise in the threat from terrorism — including the Paris attacks of November 13 — have caused many countries to review their border security, after it was found that many of the attackers had moved freely between Europe and Syria unchecked.

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    legal case, warning, chaos, unity, immigration, migrant quota, free movement, Schengen area, refugee crisis, European Union, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Eastern Europe, Germany, Europe
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