Immigration: EU a closed door for refugees

21 November 2011
Dagens Nyheter

, 21 November 2011

“Most EU countries reject refugees,” writesDagens Nyheter in a report on member state policies on asylum seekers. Ten countries take in 90% of the 100,000 asylum seekers who knock on the doors of the EU every year, notes the Swedish daily.

And as the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström points out in the columns of the newspaper, that means that the other 17 member states should be making greater efforts, and that we are nowhere near the the harmonisation of asylum policy the Commission aimed to establish by 2012.

According to an expert quoted by the daily, the economic crisis has proved to be a further obstacle to harmonisation: certain countries with more “open” policies fear that they will be obliged to take on more applications, while others, like Greece, have simply refused to welcome any further asylum seekers. Then, he adds, there is a third group of countries like Finland and the Netherlands, where the influence of right-wing populist parties has reduced the number of applications that are accepted.

The Commissioner is critical of Greece, which was the point of entry into the EU for 80,000 people over the last two years, and where “conditions for refugees fall short of what is humanly acceptable.” This observation is borne out by a feature report on the Tychero refugee centre, which is close to the Turkish border.

In order to establish a fairer system for distributing the burden of welcoming asylum seekers, Cecilia Malmström is proposing, along with other measures, to provide temporary assistance to countries with the highest in-flows of migrants. Her proposals will be on the agenda for discussion at the EU’s 13-December Council of Ministers meeting.