by Simon Kent
The European Union could collapse if it cannot agree to
concrete measures to stem the flow of asylum seekers that have flooded
Europe this year. That is the warning from Slovenian Prime Minister,
Miro Cerar, who can only foresee one outcome if the crisis cannot be
solved. “If we don’t deliver concrete action, I believe Europe will
start falling apart,” he said.
Mr Cerar sent out his
dramatic call to fellow central and eastern leaders gathered in
Brussels for emergency talks on Monday. He was speaking nine days after
Hungary’s move to seal its southern border drove unprecedented migrant
tides into tiny Slovenia, all on their way to Germany to take advantage
of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offer of unconditional sanctuary to any and all migrants who arrive on the country’s doorstep.
“If we don’t find a solution today, if we don’t do everything we can
today, then it is the end of the European Union as such,” Cerar said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who pushed for the meeting to be
called, said: “Europe must show it is a continent of values, a continent
of solidarity … This is a building block but we need to take many
Fleeing war and oppression to seek a new life in northern Europe,
migrants on the so-called Balkan migrant route switched to Slovenia a
week ago when Hungary closed its border with Croatia. Since October 17,
more than 62,000 refugees have arrived in Slovenia, with some 14,000
still passing through the country on Sunday alone.
Smaller countries along the Balkan route say their resources are stretched by the number of people arriving.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU’s chief executive, called the leaders of
Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
Romania, Serbia and Slovenia to Brussels to seek a common approach.
They meet as more than 680,000 migrants and refugees have crossed to
Europe by sea so far this year from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
The new arrivals follow years of economic crisis, with Europe’s
governments struggling to cope with an influx of people from a host of
Middle East countries and, increasingly, sub-Saharan Africa.
The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, presented a proposed
16-point plan containing emergency measures late Sunday night, as well
as increasing border surveillance, properly registering refugees and
stopping bus and train transfers to the next border without the consent
of the neighbouring country.
However, Croatia’s Prime Minister, Zoran Milanovic, called Mr
Juncker’s plan “frivolous and unrealistic”. He also demanded that Greece
should control its maritime border with Turkey. The Greek Prime
Minister, Alexis Tsipras, said having a summit on the refugee crisis
would be of little use if Turkey were not invited.
An announcement on specific details of a future plan of action is expected late on Monday.