Or, in a more precise headline: Stick in the fork, Europe’s done.
Europe’s Great Migration Crisis
by Soeren Kern
More than 715,000 people have applied for asylum in the EU during the past twelve months.
- In 2014, Hungary received more refugees per capita than any other EU country apart from Sweden. Asylum requests for Austria rose nearly 180% in the first five months of 2015, to 20,620, and were on track to reach 70,000 by the end of the year. It recently emerged that three out of four refugees who came to Denmark in the early 2000s are jobless ten years later.
- “The face of European civilization… will never again be what it is now. There is no way back from a multicultural Europe. Neither to a Christian Europe, nor to the world of national cultures.” — Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary.
The European Commission announced a controversial “relocation plan” that would require EU member states to accept 40,000 over the next two years. This is in addition to a separate “resettlement plan” to distribute 20,000 refugees currently living in camps in the Middle East.
- “The proposal on the table from the European Commission is absurd, bordering on insanity. It is an incentive for human traffickers and will simply tell people: yes, try to cross the Mediterranean at all costs.” — Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary.
Europe’s migration crisis is exposing the deep divisions that exist within the European Union, which European federalists have long hailed as a model for post-nationalism and global citizenship. Faced with an avalanche of migrants, a growing number of EU member states have moved decisively to put their own national interests above notions of EU solidarity.
Hungary’s parliament, for instance, has approved the construction of a massive border fence with Serbia as part of a new anti-immigration law that also tightens asylum rules.
The move is aimed at stopping tens of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East from entering Hungary, which has become a key gateway for illegal immigration into the European Union.
Hungarian officials say drastic measures are necessary because of the EU’s inaction in the face of an unprecedented migration crisis, which has seen more than 150,000 migrants crossinto Europe during the first six months of 2015. More than 715,000 people have applied for asylum in the EU during the past twelve months.
Hungarian lawmakers on July 6 voted 151 to 41 in favor of building a 4-meter-high (13-foot) fence along the 175-kilometer (110-mile) border with Serbia. The measure aims to cut off the so-called Western Balkan Route, which constitutes the main land route through Eastern Europe for migrants who enter the EU from Turkey via Greece and Bulgaria.
More than 60,000 people have entered Hungary illegally during the first six months of 2015, a nearly 900% increase over the same period in 2014, according to Frontex, the European border agency. Approximately 95% of the migrants entering Hungary — most coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Kosovo — cross into the country from Serbia, which unlike Hungary is not a member of the EU.
Hungary forms part of the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone, which means that once migrants are inside the country, they can travel freely throughout most of the rest of the EU without further border checks.
In 2014, Hungary received more refugees per capita than any other EU country apart from Sweden. Although most of the migrants entering Hungary continue onward to wealthier countries in Western Europe, a growing number of refugees are deciding to stay in Hungary. During the first three months of 2015, Hungary received the largest number of asylum requests as a share of population of any EU member state.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has justified the moves as necessary to defend his country. “The Hungarian government is committed to defending Hungary and defending the Hungarian people from the immigration pressure,” he said. “Hungary cannot allow itself to wait any longer. Naturally, we hope there will be a joint European solution.”
Critics say the decision to build a fence evokes memories of the Cold War, when Europe was divided between East and West. “We have only recently taken down walls in Europe,” said the EU’s spokesperson for migration, Natasha Bertaud. “We should not be putting them up.”
An unnamed European diplomat told the Telegraph newspaper: “This is a scandal. Hungary, which was the first Communist country to dismantle the Iron Curtain, is now building a new curtain on its southern border.”