Germany got what it wanted in the vote on the EU’s plan to resettle 120,000 refugees, but some Eastern European nations aren’t happy at all.
Yesterday, EU interior ministers voted to distribute the refugees throughout 23 EU nations while giving more than a billion euros to nations currently housing the refugees in camps outside of Syria. They also agreed to tightening borders so that economic refugees can be separated from those fleeing war and violence.
But four nations — Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — are bitter in their opposition to the plan and may take the EU to court to stop it.
“Those who don’t share our values, those who don’t even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union,” said French President François Hollande as he entered the meeting.
One opponent, Slovakia, upped the ante, warning it would reject the E.U. resettlement decision and threatening to oppose it in court.
“We will go in two directions: first one, we will file a charge at the court in Luxembourg . . . secondly, we will not implement the [decision] of the interior ministers,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told reporters before leaving for the summit in Brussels.
It was a yet another sign of the deeper challenges facing the 28-nation bloc amid the largest mass movement of people on the continent since World War II.
In July, Greece was nearly kicked out of the euro zone, and it still faces crippling economic problems. Europe has also struggled to keep a united front against Russia in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
So the leaders who plan meet for dinner on Wednesday may find the canapé discussions less than polite.
Leaders of the four countries that voted against the refugee measure — Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — have all condemned the effort as a grave violation of their independence in a bloc that usually prides itself on consensus.
The E.U. leaders plan to focus their talks on broader strategic efforts to ease the flow of the hundreds of thousands of people who have sought haven in Europe this year from war-ravaged Syria and Iraq, but also from other countries as economic migrants seeking jobs and a better future.
The E.U. envoys will try to reach an agreement about bolstering Europe’s external borders to better sort refugees fleeing war from economic migrants who can be deported. And they will seek to boost aid to the countries surrounding Syria to encourage refugees to stay closer to home.
For all the controversy, Tuesday’s plan would find homes for just 20 days’ worth of new arrivals to Europe, a measure of the scale of the crisis and the baby steps the continent has taken to address it. Croatia said Wednesday that more than 44,000 migrants had entered its territory in the last week alone.
The resettlement plan doesn’t even begin to address the crisis. So far this year, more than 450,000 immigrants have poured into Europe — twice as many as all last year. Who knows what the numbers will be by the end of the year.
The EU is being mugged by reality and is still rejecting it. They continue to maintain the fiction that they can continue to act with generosity and goodwill while the evidence is overwhelming that they are in the process of literally being overrun. President Hollande is being radically unfair. The countries who voted against this plan are far smaller than France and Germany, and not as rich. Germany may be able to afford taking half a million refugees, but Slovakia would lose its national character if unregulated migration continues.
The Slovakian government will probably not find relief in the courts, so they will have to decide whether to go along with the German plan or defy the EU and suffer unknown consequences. Hungary may already have gone beyond the point that EU nations will tolerate, and there is talk of sanctions regarding the closing off of their border
The frayed unity of the EU displayed during these last two days may disappear entirely unless the flood of humanity can somehow be slowed to a manageable level.