Eastern European ministers are due to gather to once again voice their opposition to compulsory migrant quotas, as countries creaking under the strain of a steady stream of refugees struggle to agree on common action.
Divisions are starkest when it comes to sharing responsibility for hosting the thousands coming to Europe, around two-thirds of whom could qualify for asylum or some form of worldwide protection. Faced with an intractable logistical burden, Schmidt’s agency last month announced it would stop sending Syrians back to the European Union member states where they were first registered.
On August 31, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germany would intensify its efforts to speed up processing procedures of refugee applications and increase the number of places in preliminary reception centers for refugees.
The Nobel Peace Prize victor said a set of rules for admission is needed because with time the refugees will “demand space for themselves and we will have religious, social and all other problems”.
But faced even with a humanitarian emergency, the European Union gives priority to debates about unity and policy over immediate action to tackle Europe’s biggest refugee challenge in decades.
The migrant crisis hitting Europe has driven headlines over the past month, tugging at the heartstrings of people wanting to help desperate refugees running from a war-torn country.
If Germany takes in 500,000 of those people per year for “several years“, as German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has suggested it could, the country will be absorbing the equivalent of 0.6 percent of its population – or about 1 in every 160 people.
Another Luxembourg source said the word “mandatory” will not appear in the draft document that will go before the ministers when they meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss how many refugees each country will take.
More than 20,000 refugees crossed into Austria from Hungary and Slovenia at the weekend and majority wanted to travel to Germany, according to media reports.
More than half of them were in Germany.
As the tide of migrants swelled over the summer, prompting the government to double its forecast for the number of refugees arriving in Germany this year to 800,000, Schmidt said that his agency had been caught off guard.
The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey a high-ranking United Nations official has said might attempt to come to Europe. Under the new draft, asylum seekers would initially receive benefits regardless of how they entered Germany.