Europe’s shame: EU meeting of interior ministers fails to make any progress in dealing with Europe’s refugee crisis

EU Interior Ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday failed to address the urgent needs of Europe’s refugee crisis. They were unable to agree on a proposal for the relocation of 120,000 refugees from Greece, Italy and Hungary, falling back on an agreement made in June for a temporary and exceptional mechanism to relocate 40,000 people over two years.

The lack of political courage is astonishing and shameful. Europe, with a population of 500 million, has the capacity to grant protection to those in need. It has done so in the not so distant past. At the end of the 1970s, 20 Western states accepted 623,000 refugees fleeing Vietnam. In 1992, 670,000 asylum applications were processed in an EU composed of 15 member states, compared to 620,000 in 2014 in 28 member states. Yet, today they watch paralysed as 4 million people from Syria seek refuge in neighbouring states, as bodies wash up on European shores, as desperate families plead for basic assistance having risked their lives to reach safety.

The indifference of European leaders to such suffering is an indelible stain on the continent and calls the very founding values of the Union into question.

EU ministers are set to meet again on 22 September in an attempt to reach an agreement on the relocation of an additional 120,000 refugees, a figure which EU countries have been struggling over during recent weeks amid growing tension.

FIDH has made detailed recommendations to the EU and its governments on migration and asylum, setting out the need for legal and safe routes into Europe as the only solution to prevent loss of life, preserve human dignity and honour international obligations under human rights and refugee law.

We urge the EU Council to take these recommendations into account when reopening the discussion at the summit next week.

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