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Thursday, May 26, 2022

The EU must do this

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The number of Ukrainian refugees in the EU will increase from eight to ten million. This is the forecast of the Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, for the coming weeks. The gigantic magnitude of those seeking protection who will soon be on the run is realistic. Putin is subjecting the city of Mariupol and its residents to his war terror. The images of the bombed-out houses give an idea of ​​how many women with their children are likely to flee west in the near future.

[Alle aktuellen Nachrichten zum russischen Angriff auf die Ukraine bekommen Sie mit der Tagesspiegel-App live auf ihr Handy. Hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen]

The number of refugees in the EU is already higher than during the civil war in Syria. However, there was already talk of a “refugee crisis” in the EU in 2015/16. The result: People who came to the EU from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries were only accepted into Germany on a large scale. In the end, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the EU pay for his accommodation.

In principle, all EU countries want to help

Now the situation is different: all EU states want to help refugees from Ukraine in principle. Six years ago, France, for example, only wanted to take in a limited number of refugees. Head of State Emmanuel Macron has now declared that 100,000 people from Ukraine should find protection in his country.

But that won’t be enough. Because countries like Poland, which has taken in more than two million refugees so far, and Romania, where the authorities receive people directly from the Ukraine-Moldova border, are reaching their breaking point. For this reason, Baerbock’s proposal to airlift refugees arriving at the EU’s external borders directly to other EU countries makes sense, thus preventing cities like Warsaw and Berlin from eventually being overwhelmed. Therefore, at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday, Olaf Scholz must adopt the Baerbock proposal. The Chancellor should work to ensure that refugees are distributed throughout the EU, in the spirit of a European “We Can Do It”.

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There are two reasons why Scholz will successfully take a leading role at the EU summit between heads of state and government on the refugee issue. First of all, there is the fact that Germany is expected to host a not insignificant number of people seeking protection in Ukraine.

With more than 230,000 officially registered refugees in Germany to date, the reception capacities of the economically strongest EU nation have not yet been exhausted. And if the federal, state and local governments remain responsive and, more importantly, logistically capable of accommodating the hundreds of thousands, this will give Scholz even more authority at the summit.

France’s head of state, Emmanuel Macron, has so far been hesitant to distribute the refugees across the EU.Photo: Ludovic Marin/REUTERS

Secondly, the fact that France hesitates on this point speaks in favor of the chancellor’s involvement in favor of a distribution of refugees within the EU. The governments in Paris and Berlin are working together to coordinate aid for Moldova, an overburdened non-EU country. But so far there has been no talk in Paris of a direct distribution of refugees within the EU.

Poland and Hungary could later show their gratitude in the asylum debate

Baerbock’s proposal, in particular, could help bridge old gaps in the long-running dispute over EU asylum policy. Countries like Poland and Hungary would quickly feel the benefits of an airlift to distribute the refugees. Countries like Spain, Italy and Greece could relieve them of the burden of hosting those seeking protection.

On the contrary, it is precisely these Mediterranean countries that have been calling for burden sharing in refugee policy for years. And Hungary and Poland have been blocking this for years. If Baerbock’s plan is implemented, it would only be fair for Warsaw and Budapest to show their appreciation in the debate on the EU’s long-term asylum policy.


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