The European Commission has announced plans to bribe member states with their own money in a bid to cajole them into accepting migrants from across Africa and the Middle East. The scheme has already attracted widespread criticism not only for economic reasons, but due to the opportunities it presents terrorists wanting to enter Europe. The commission wants to see 60,000 migrants, 20,000 of whom have not yet even reached the EU, relocated across the member states. To that end, it has promised to pay the countries £4,250 for each person they accept, costing European taxpayers a grand total of £35.5 million, the Daily Mail has reported.
So far Britain has managed to negotiate an opt-out from taking a proportion of the 40,000 migrants, the majority from Syria and Eritrea, currently stranded in Italy and Greece having successfully crossed the Mediterranean. But the government is still under pressure from the Commission to accept some of the 20,000 migrants from non-EU countries that it wishes to disperse across the bloc under a quota system.
A British Government spokesman said: “We do not oppose resettlement in principle, but we believe such schemes are best decided at national level and have no plans to contribute to an EU quota.”
Yet the EU has already issued a press release showing that the UK is in line to take 2,309 people in from outside the EU over the next two years under “resettlement” plans. Almost 50,000 migrants arrived by boat last year, but that figure is set to be eclipsed this year as far from dissuading people, the EU institutions are determined to welcomed them with open arms.
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s Foreign Affairs chief said that the proposals had “one main aim: quickly save lives and provide protection in the EU for people in need, be they at sea, in the EU or in third countries.
“For this reason, we are intensifying our cooperation with countries of origin and transit and with countries hosting refugees, not only to support asylum and migration capacities, but also to tackle the root causes that force people to escape and migrate: poverty, wars, persecutions, violations of human rights and natural disasters.”
The plans were being drawn up even as commission spokesman Natasha Bertaud told reporters that new migrant centres due to be built in African nations this year were first and foremost for the purpose of turning would be migrants around before they embarked on a perilous journey across the sea.
Ms Bertaud said the policy was about “building up capacity to take migrants back,” adding that “no remote processing” of asylum seekers would take place at the centres. However, she did admit that part of the centres’ work would be identifying those “in clear need of international protection, such as Syrians or Eritreans,” so that the UN could request that the EU take them in.
Germany, which backs the proposals, is set to take the largest number of people, relocating 8,763 from Italy and Greece, and a further 3,086 from outside of the EU. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere welcomed the announcement saying: ‘You can negotiate the allocation. It won’t be easy but the way is right.”
France and Spain are both preparing to take in thousands, with 9,127 people destined for France, and a further 5,837 heading to Spain. A French diplomat said that the proposal is being examined but that more work needed to be done to shape an effective and fair plan. Meanwhile, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo has asked for the Commission to take more account of Spain’s high unemployment rate which is currently running close to 25 percent.
The Eastern European states have also expressed dismay despite being asked to accept smaller allocations. The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has released a statement reading: “Compulsory quotas and distribution of refugees regardless of their will are not a sustainable solution of the current migration crisis.”
A central European diplomat said they were pessimistic that an agreement could be reached, adding “There would be serious consequences for the European project if this was imposed on countries,” a view echoed by the Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Rolandas Krisciunas, who told Reuters that Commission’s scheme should be voluntary, not mandatory.
The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban simply said the scheme was “bordering on insanity”.
In an attempt to address concerns, the Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Today the Commission is matching words with action. Solidarity goes hand in hand with responsibility. This is why our proposals include the strong requirement that asylum rules are properly applied, and that Member States do everything they should to prevent abuse.
“Everyone who needs sanctuary should find it in Europe. But those who have no justified claim should be quickly identified and returned to their home country. This is essential for migration policies to be well accepted in society.”
Yet fears that Islamic terrorists would use the migrant route as a way into Europe have already proved founded. Last week a 22-year-old Moroccan named Abdel Majid Touil was arrested in Milan over allegations that he was part of a terrorist attack on a museum in Tunis which claimed the lives of 22 people, mostly tourists, including one Briton. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.