Last week’s EU refugee summit produced one signal achievement. A refugee quota was agreed that will – over the next two years – see a total of 160,000 asylum-seekers shared across the bloc. The importance of this cannot be overstated. It will ease the pressure on Italy and Greece, currently vastly overburdened, and, as Europe pulls together, soothe the sense of a crisis spiralling out of control.

Yet it came at a cost, and a significant one. There are three main problems with it. First, the quota was imposed on four Eastern European nations, who will kick up rough for some time, and may go so far as to not comply. Second, it will be difficult to keep refugees in states they are relocated to, which may see those sent Romania, for example, leaving for Germany in any case. (Limiting benefits to collection in the stated host country, though, may help.) Third, a rise of far right sentiment is more or less guaranteed.

The fourth problem goes broader. Still, the EU has failed to provide safe and legal routes for those fleeing war to enter Europe – leaving them to take their chances with smugglers and the Mediterranean.

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Refugees queue to register at a camp after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija

 

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