Denmark today cut off all rail links with Germany and shut down sections of highways, after refugees crossed the border with Germany and began heading north towards Sweden.
Meanwhile in southern Hungary, which is reeling from the effects of thousands of refugees entering the country illegally, refugees on the border with Serbia broke through police lines closing the M5 highway. Hungry is being used as a staging post by the refugees on their journey for a supposed better life in Europe and Scandinavia.
The two incidents occurred just as European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker put forward plans which he claims will offer Europe a “swift, determined and comprehensive” response to its refugee crisis. The plan has 120,000 asylum seekers being distributed amongst European Union (EU) countries with binding quotas.
Saying it was “not a time to take fright”, Juncker announced his plans in a “state of the Union” annual address which comes hot on the heels of thousands of refugees, mainly from Syria, entering Europe in recent days, with more headed that way.
Germany, the destination point for many of the refugees, supports quotas, while some EU countries are against any compulsory system.
Juncker opened his speech will a criticism of the European Union saying it was “not in a good situation. There is a lack of Europe in this union, and a lack of union in this union”.
He went on to say that tackling the refugee crisis was “a matter of humanity and human dignity. It is true that Europe cannot house all the misery in the world. But we have to put it into perspective. This still represents just 0.11% of the EU population. In Lebanon refugees represent 25% of the population.”
Under Juncker’s plans the number of refugees allocated to each EU country would depend on population, GDP, number of asylum applications already processed, and unemployment rate. He said EU countries that refused to take in refugees could face fines.
Juncker’s plan includes:
- A relocation system to “deal with crisis situations more swiftly in the future
- The European Commission to compile a list of “safe countries” where some refugees would have to return
- Strengthening the EU’s asylum system
- Strengthening management of borders and legal migration channels.
“It’s 160,000 refugees in total that Europeans have to take into their arms and I really hope that this time everyone will be on board – no rhetoric, action is what is needed,” said Juncker.