The EU’s migration system is TEN DAYS from ‘completely breaking down’ if the number of people arriving in Europe is not curbed, Brussels migration chief warns
- EU talks today aimed at reducing the migrant flow through the Balkans ahead of March 7 summit with Turkey
- Alexis Tsipras warned Greece could ‘turn into a warehouse for the souls’ as he called for burden to be shared
- Comes as Germany was warned to expect 2.5million more refugees in four years after a million arrived last year.
The EU’s migration system is just ten days from ‘completely breaking down’ if it does not curb the number of people arriving in Europe, the bloc’s migration commissioner has warned.
Europe has until a March 7 summit with Turkey to restrict the flow of refugees into the continent or face a melt down in the EU’s migration set up, according to Dimitris Avramopoulos.
He told a meeting of interior ministers in Brussels today: ‘In the next 10 days, we need tangible and clear results on the ground. Otherwise there is a risk that the whole system will completely break down.’
It comes as the Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras warned his country was turning into ‘a warehouse of souls’ as more and more nations close their borders to migrants.
Tsipras spoke out ahead of EU talks aimed at reducing the flow of refugees through the Balkans and as Germany was warned to expect 2.5million more migrants in the next four years.
Ahead of the meeting, Tsipras threatened not to cooperate with future EU agreements on the migrant crisis if the burden was not fairly shared among member states.
Athens is seething over a series of border restrictions along the migrant trail to northern and western Europe that has caused a bottleneck in Greece, the main entry point to Europe.
‘Greece will no longer agree to any deal if the burdens and responsibilities are not shared proportionally,’ Tsipras told the Greek parliament on Wednesday, adding: ‘We will not allow our country to turn into a warehouse of souls.’
His warning came as it emerged German people will have to brace for another 2.5 million refugees arriving in the country over the next four years.
The figures were drawn up by the economics ministry in Berlin and show the vast numbers still to come if there remains no change in the open-door policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Süddeutsche newspaper in Munich said the internal report drawn up for bureaucrats struggling to cope with the one million-plus who have arrived over the last 13 months was leaked to it.
German leaders are now talking of cutting budgets – despite record tax earnings – to pay for the housing, education, clothing, feeding and policing of the migrants.
‘Money for other things we might want is simply not there, even if the numbers look different at first sight,’ said junior finance minister Jens Spahn. ‘The entire surplus is completely reserved for financing the refugee crisis.’
With a further 3.6 million refugees on the way, the record €19.4 billion budget surplus the government took in last year in taxes will soon be eroded.
‘Refugee numbers have to sink, or else we won’t be able to manage any more,’ said finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
The economic ministry’s Internal figures are based on around 500,000 people arriving every year between 2016 and 2020. A spokesman later said the figures are estimates and that a true picture is ‘impossible’ to paint.
News of a new wave of refugees arriving plays directly into the hands of the far right which is gathering strength, particularly among communities with high numbers of migrants housed among them.
Police overtime bills are spiking all over the country as officers struggle to protect facilities housing asylum seekers from firebomb attacks, threats and physical attacks against individuals.
Regional elections in three German states next month will see successes for the Alternative for Germany (AFD) party and a hammering for Mrs. Merkel’s conservatives.
Today, ministers from non-EU members Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey will also be in Brussels as the European Union reaches outside the borders of the 28-nation bloc in a desperate attempt to deal with the stream of people.
The talks come a day after Austria warned the EU’s future was at stake at a meeting of Balkan states in Vienna from which an angry Greece was excluded, and after Hungary announced a referendum on refugee quotas.
Greece on Thursday recalled its ambassador in Vienna, the country’s foreign ministry said, after Austria excluded it from a meeting of Balkan states on Europe’s migrant crisis.
The move to recall the envoy for consultations was designed to ‘safeguard friendly relations between the states and the people of Greece and Austria’, a statement from the ministry said.
The EU remains deeply divided over how to handle the migrant crisis, especially over recent border closures by several member states that have threatened the passport-free Schengen area.
‘We want all the contacts on Thursday to allow us to avoid surprises – we have to avoid that one country is surprised by the measures taken by another,’ said a source from the current Netherlands presidency of the EU.
Austria in particular has caused anger in the EU by announcing that it will cap asylum applications at 80 a day, saying it is overwhelmed by the numbers coming up through the Balkans from Greece.
Thursday’s Brussels meetings will start with a working breakfast between the ministers from Serbia, Macedonia and the EU countries on the main Western Balkans route for migrants and refugees to reach northern Europe.
The EU issued a stern warning on Tuesday that a ‘humanitarian crisis’ was looming, especially in Greece, and that it was ‘concerned’ by developments on the Balkans route.
Brussels was also ‘coordinating a contingency planning effort, to offer support in case of a humanitarian crisis both outside and within the EU’, it said.
The crisis ratcheted up at the weekend after Macedonia closed its Greek border to Afghans because countries further up the route were turning back groups from that country.
Greece is the arrival point for around four fifths of the huge flow of people fleeing war and poverty who are arriving in Europe – mainly via Turkey – in the worst crisis of its kind to face Europe for more than half a century.
One hundred thousand migrants have already arrived this year and more than a million last year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Greece has been threatened with effective suspension from the frontier-free Schengen zone if it does not do more to stop waving through migrants to other countries, and improve reception and registration conditions for refugees who land on its soil.
The EU’s Dublin regulations say that migrants must apply for asylum in the first country they land in but this system is set for an overhaul in the coming months as it has proved unworkable.
Turkey’s deputy interior minister will meet ministers from all 28 EU states at the main talks later on Thursday, as the EU pushes Ankara on a deal aimed at cutting the number of arrivals.
Turkey and the EU signed a deal in November under which Ankara agreed to curb the number of refugees crossing to Greece in return for three billion euros ($3.2 billion) in aid and the speeding up of its EU membership bid.
An EU-Turkey summit on the deal will take place on March 7.