Schulz: ‘Refugee cri­sis is go­ing to cost us all a lot more’

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

An­gela Merkel is cer­tainly in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion, but she is not iso­lated. The num­ber of mem­ber states re­al­is­ing that this is not just a Ger­man prob­lem is in­creas­ing and the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a rea­son­able dis­tri­bu­tion of refugees through­out Europe is be­ing ac­cepted by more coun­tries.

We are in the midst of pre­par­ing for a sum­mit and have been in dis­cus­sions with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from many coun­tries. I have seen a shift in opin­ion and a will­ing­ness to make sig­nif­i­cant progress in find­ing a so­lu­tion at the sum­mit. More coun­tries are now pre­pared to en­gage with the plan, if we can all agree on a mix­ture of dif­fer­ent mea­sures.

I strongly ad­vise that the plan that was agreed upon pre­vi­ously, the dis­tri­bu­tion of 160,000 refugees through­out Europe, be im­ple­mented. I re­alise that this is not go­ing to com­pletely solve the cri­sis.

But if we can deal with 160,000 peo­ple, then we will bring in­valu­able political move­ment to the process and in­crease the chances of us be­ing able to come to a com­mon so­lu­tion. When we have reg­is­tered and iden­ti­fied the peo­ple ar­riv­ing here, in ad­di­tion to know­ing how many refugees are ar­riv­ing in a given place and from where they have come, we will be able to im­ple­ment the plan. up­hold the plan they agreed to. We have to carry out a prag­matic re­dis­tri­bu­tion. If we were able to deal with the 30,000 peo­ple cur­rently backed up in Greece, then that would be of enor­mous ben­e­fit to that coun­try.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of Euro­pean coun­tries are ready to pitch in and help re­dis­tribute those 160,000 peo­ple. I’ll put it more prac­ti­cally: if Ger­many takes 40,000, France takes 30,000 and Por­tu­gal 10,000, then we are al­ready in a po­si­tion where 80,000 peo­ple have been re­dis­tributed. The re­main­ing 80,000, to be dis­trib­uted among the other 25 mem­ber states, should not pose a prob­lem.

Un­der the cur­rent dis­tri­bu­tion cri­te­ria, which takes into ac­count a coun­try’s wealth and pop­u­la­tion, Hun­gary would only need to ac­cept 1,294 peo­ple. Yet this is some­thing Prime Min­is­ter Or­bán wants to hold a ref­er­en­dum about! The sup­posed bur­den this will all have on in­di­vid­ual states is fi­nally be­ing ex­posed for what it is: fear mon­ger­ing.

I think it is use­ful to con­sider al­ter­na­tive sce­nar­ios. If sev­eral coun­tries don’t want to par­tic­i­pate, then how do we best ap­proach the prob­lem, how do we co­or­di­nate bet­ter? If we can’t be sure that ev­ery­one is go­ing to par­tic­i­pate, then we can­not pro­ceed. Turkey at the sum­mit. Turkey must pro­tect its coasts bet­ter and pre­vent traf­fick­ers from car­ry­ing out their busi­ness. Refugees could be iden­ti­fied in Turkey and then the most vul­ner­a­ble could be dis­trib­uted through­out the rest of the EU. This would re­ally get things mov­ing.

One must make an im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion here. Athens must, refugee cri­sis or no refugee cri­sis, im­ple­ment those re­forms so that Greece can get back on its feet. But on the other hand, Greece has been hard­est hit by the in­flux of refugees. The cri­sis goes hand in hand with bud­get prob­lems, so in this re­gard, we need to show flex­i­bil­ity when it comes to deal­ing with its deficit. Greece needs more sol­i­dar­ity if it is to par­tic­i­pate with the rest of us in tack­ling this prob­lem.

I wasn’t the one who in­vited the IMF to help in this way. That was a de­ci­sion made by oth­ers. The Fund’s re­cent talk about giv­ing Greece a hair­cut is hardly likely to please those who ap­proached them in the first place though.

Of course that’s not enough. But it is an im­por­tant first step. The refugee cri­sis is go­ing to cost us all a lot more money.

But if we are talk­ing about money, take the bank­ing cri­sis, in which hun­dreds of bil­lions were mo­bilised lit­er­ally overnight, with­out many peo­ple bat­ting an eye­lid. Sud­denly, there’s worry about th­ese com­par­a­tively small amounts, both at a na­tional and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal level.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.