The issue is dominating Tuesday’s meeting of European Union interior ministers in Brussels.
Eastern European ministers gathering today will 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.
They have taken in more than 400,000 asylum seekers from across the Mediterranean this year, a record number. More than three quarters were registered in four Member States: Germany, Hungary, Austria and Sweden. While the leaders are expected to sign off on any proposals agreed by justice ministers, they will also discuss more long-term measures.
The figures released on Friday do not take into account the surge in refugees that have arrived in Scandinavia this month.
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 global protection.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said the United Kingdom will take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees from the camps on the country’s border over a five-year period.
It came after pressure to admit more people from the war-ravaged country following the publication of photographs of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who drowned with his mother and brother trying to cross from Turkey to Greece by boat.
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.
A correspondent for the Daily Mail demonstrated just how easy it is to obtain forged Syrian documents of the kind reportedly in demand by migrants aiming to gain asylum in Europe.
Police guards are also accused of ill-treatment of refugees at the Gazi Baba detention center between June 2014 and July 2015, and the failure of the authorities to investigate or hold those responsible to account. “We have the right to protect our culture, language and values”, it said, adding that the government is committed to further developing the economy “without the unbearable burden of illegal migrants arriving in Hungary“.
But what one diplomat called a potential “blood on the walls moment” would be, for another, the “worst signal you can send” to voters across Europe who are already growing sceptical of the benefits of membership and fear “being railroaded by Germany”.