Will Europe’s refugee-sharing plan end the worst crisis since WWII?

EU interior ministers approved this week a refugee-sharing plan, in the first concrete step toward dealing with the crisis

Rajia Aboulkheir

Published: Updated:

A large majority of EU interior ministers approved this week a refugee-sharing plan, in the first concrete step toward dealing with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Following the announcement, which will help relocate 120,000 asylum-seekers around the bloc, some analysts remained doubtful on the efficiency of the move to end the crisis, saying the decision may only “worsen” it.

“It is an answer to the crisis but definitely not a solution to the growing disaster,” Paris-based geopolitical analyst Jamal al-Misraoui told Al Arabiya News, “the plan is just a quick reaction from the European Union, especially that they had to act rapidly in face of the huge influx of immigrants.”

“It is not because we are welcoming 120,000 refugees that we are ending the crisis, quite the contrary, such a plan is even likely to incite more people to cross the Mediterranean and worsen the crisis.”

Misraoui added: “It [the plan] was already scheduled. Now they just made it official and announced the measures that will be taken against the countries that do not respect the plan.”

On Tuesday, the 28-nation EU took the modest step to ease the strain on Greece and Italy, which are on the front line of the migrant flood.

The decision exposed the wide divisions that Europe’s largest refugee crisis has spawned, with four Eastern European countries - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary - voting against it.

The four countries, led by Hungary, are bitterly opposed to the plan, insisting Brussels has no right to make them take in thousands of the people seeking refuge in Europe.

Meanwhile, Khattar Abu Diab, a political science professor at the University of Paris, told Al Arabiya News that “the plan for refugees is not a real end to the crisis, given the numbers of people that have arrived to the European territory since the beginning of the year.”

[The plan] “does end a part of the problem but not all of it and Europe is still very far from a total solution.”

According to the United Nations, 366,000 people have already crossed the Mediterranean seeking refuge in Europe since the beginning of the year.

The organization said that at least 850,000 people are expected to make the voyage this year and next.

Miracle solution

Abu Diab added that there was no “miracle solution” to this crisis that has shown “the limits of Europe.”

But Misraoui seemed more optimistic about the future of the crisis saying that: “An element that could help finish the migrants’ crisis is the end of the conflicts in the Arab region especially in areas such as Syria and Iraq or even Libya.”

“Ending the fighting in Syria would make an important difference given that Syrians are the largest group of migrants flocking to Europe … but that still looks a long way off.”

Arab countries must ensure more basic human rights to their citizens so that they “are motivated to stay in their home states,” Misraoui said.

In the Arab world, some countries have descended into chaos after the “Arab Spring” uprisings of 2011.

In Syria, for example, a four-year civil war has killed an estimated 250,000 people and driven more than 11 million from their homes, while Libya has been plunged into lawlessness since veteran autocrat Muammar Qaddafi was toppled.

Dublin deal

Misraoui also suggested the revision of Europe’s Dublin agreement as another way to limit the consequences of the crisis on European countries.

“The Dublin deal might have to be revised or else they could jeopardize the principles of border control-free travel in the bloc's Schengen zone.”

Under the Dublin agreement, all asylum seekers are required to apply in the first EU country they reach.

He added that if not solved rapidly, influx of Arab migrants in Europe is likely to lead to a rise of “Arabophobia.”

“We are in a very sensitive phase and the arrival of thousands of Arabs to Europe will bolster the idea that an Arab is a Muslim and a terrorist.”