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EU 'failed to deliver' on refugees

January 15, 2016

The EU Commission chief has warned member states of the "economic price" for not responding to the refugee crisis. A plan agreed on by EU member states to relocate refugees has proven negligible in its implementation.

Schäuble said if Germany followed in the footsteps of Sweden, Europe would be threatened
Image: DW/D. Cupolo

Some EU member states have "failed to deliver" on the migrant crisis, which has tarnished the 28-nation bloc's reputation, said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday.

In 2015, the EU witnessed more than one million asylum seekers and migrants fleeing war-torn countries crossing its borders, resulting in the continent's worst migration crisis since the end of World War II.

"It's not the commission that has not delivered," Juncker said during a press conference.

"But a number of member states have failed to fully deliver on what we need to do and what needs to be done," he added.

Indeed, a plan to redistribute more than 100,000 asylum seekers from frontline countries, such as Greece and Italy, to other EU member states has proved inconsequential with only 272 refugees being relocated since September, when the deal was agreed upon by member states.

Eastern European countries such as Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic said they rejected the quota system that mandated each EU country settle a certain number of refugees within the country, signaling significant divisions in the bloc.

'Economic price'

Juncker warned member states of an "economic price" they would have to pay if the Schengen agreement allowing borderless travel were usurped by country's restoring borders.

"When all this breaks down, the economic price, the loss of growth and the damage for the European growth perspectives will be enormous," he noted.

"Without Schengen, without the free movement of workers, without freedom of European citizens to travel, the euro makes no sense," Juncker added, referring to the 19-country single currency zone.

Meanwhile, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said after a meeting of EU finance ministers that if Germany followed Sweden in reestablishing its borders, the migration crisis would "no longer be a German problem, but a huge threat in Europe."

Schäuble has called on EU member states to do more by contributing funds in order to increase capacity to respond to the mass influx of asylum seekers and migrants adequately.

However, an EU plan to provide Turkey with a three-billion-euro aid fund has been blocked by Italy. Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said the EU needed to explore "further ways to make better use of the European budget resources before requesting national contributions" for Turkey.

Turkey houses more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees, according to UN figures.

ls/jil (AFP, AP, dpa)