Leaders: EU could fall apart over refugee crisis

The straw which broke the European Union’s back might be the refugee crisis. Things reportedly got pretty tense in Brussels during an energy summit, causing The Guardian to report the EU could completely fall apart.

Miro Cerar, the Slovenian prime minister, said the EU was days from collapse as his country buckled under an “unbearable” influx of migrants.

“If we do not deliver some immediate and concrete actions on the ground in the next few days and weeks I believe the EU and Europe as a whole will start falling apart,” he said.

Werner Faymann, the Austrian chancellor, said Sunday’s meeting would “either consolidate the unity of Europe or watch the slow decomposition of the EU.”

It’s entirely possible Cerar and Faymann were just trying to make a point of how dire things were because EU leadership announced today a 17-point plan to help with the refugee crisis. For those hoping it involves putting everyone on a trebuchet and launching them back to the Middle East…you’re not in luck. The agreement includes increasing communication on a daily basis, letting other governments know what they need, not pushing migrants into another country without letting the government know, and increasing shelter and food. There’s also this on border management:

Border Management
13. Increase efforts to manage borders, including by:

*Finalising and implementing the EU-Turkey Action Plan;

*Making full use of the potential of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement and the visa liberalisation roadmap;

*Upscaling the Poseidon Sea Joint Operation in Greece;

*Reinforcing Frontex support at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey;

*Strengthening border cooperation between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with increased UNHCR engagement;

*Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania will strengthen the management of the external land border, with Frontex to support registration in Greece;

*Reconfirming the principle of refusing entry to third country nationals who do not confirm a wish to apply for international protection (in line with international and EU refugee law and subject to prior non-refoulement and proportionality checks)…

It will be interesting to see if Turkey decides to help out because they weren’t at the weekend summit. That got under the skin of Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who told the Danish paper Jylland-Posten how that was a bad idea (via Google Translate).

“Everyone knows that at the end of a corridor is an entrance, and if we can not agree with the country at the beginning, it will be hard to find a solution.”

He has a pretty good point because with this number of countries involved there has to be talks with Turkey on what to do. But at the same time it appears Greece is getting some blame for not reaching out to other European nations for help, and just punting refugees northward. Again from Jylland-Posten via Google Translate.

“The communication has been poor or nonexistent. I expect that Croatia will stop sending refugees to Slovenia without prior announcement, “said Miro CERAR and acknowledged that Europe does not get a grip on the problem before flow into Greece stops.

“We need to strengthen controls between Greece and Turkey and the EU must provide all necessary support to Greece to make it possible and effective,” he continued.

This was a message that more leaders came with. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, who attended on behalf of Luxembourg’s EU presidency, indicated that the Greeks also were unwilling to let others do the tasks that they can not promise.

“In recent weeks there have 50,000 to Lesbos. The Greece can not cope alone. But Greece must also accept our help, “he said on arrival.

That’s the key thing: cooperation. I always thought the EU was going to fail because the countries are so used to being their own countries and not having to really worry about neighboring states, except in times of war. But the thing which is so frustrating is how groups like Amnesty International and Medecins Sans Frontiers are yelling at the EU for not having a better plan, when the best plan could have been put together by the charities themselves. The charities should have been putting together a drive of some kind to help the refugees or been more willing to reach out to businesses for help as well. They also could have found people willing to put the refugees on their land (which is easier said than done) and come up with a plan on how long they can stay at the camp. If the governments want to provide security, that’s fine, but they also could have talked to private security about keeping the peace (or at least trying to). However, it’s probably not in Europe’s DNA now to actually think about doing things “free market style.” This can be a lesson for the U.S. if and when refugees start coming here. Not that the Obama Administration would bother considering doing things “free market style,” but hey anything’s possible right?