EU countries 'failed to deliver' on promises to resolve refugee crisis – Juncker
European Union member states have “failed to deliver” on efforts to resolve the refugee crisis, the head of the European Commission said on Friday, noting that the commission is not to blame for the current situation.
“It is not the commission that has not delivered...but a number of member states [that] have failed to fully deliver on what we need to do and what needs to be done,” Jean-Claude Juncker said during a press conference.
He went on to state that the EU Commission is “getting a little tired” of being blamed for not doing enough to resolve the refugee crisis.
So far, just 272 refugees have been moved to other countries out of the 160,000 that EU nations agreed to relocate, AFP reports. The relocation plan, aimed at moving asylum seekers from the frontline countries of Italy and Greece, was approved in October despite opposition from several Eastern European states.
Refusing to give up on the relocation scheme, Juncker warned that the EU is “moving toward a serious crisis in terms of credibility,” and urged member states to fulfill their legal and political responsibilities.
Europe continues to face the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with the amount of asylum seekers from the Middle East – mainly Syria – and North Africa expected to increase this year.
The number of asylum seekers entering Europe in the first 10 days of 2016 was already three times higher than the level in all of January 2015, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR). Forty-nine people have died or gone missing after attempting to cross into Europe this month.
The influx of refugees has placed a strain on EU member states. Austria, which is faced with an influx of asylum seekers arriving from Slovenia and Croatia, is currently seeking the support of Germany to send its own police into those countries to check the flow of refugees arriving into Austria.
The refugee crisis is also putting pressure on Germany and Sweden, both of which had an open-door policy to new arrivals.
Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel has welcomed refugees into the country, other political leaders have fought back against her decision. On Thursday, the head of a Bavarian district sent a bus with some 30 refugees to Merkel's Berlin office, stressing that his region – which has borne the brunt of the refugee influx – has reached its capacity.
Sweden backtracked on its open-door policy in November, with the country reverting to the EU minimum of asylum seekers. “It pains me that Sweden is no longer capable of receiving asylum seekers at the high level we do today. We simply cannot do any more,” Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said at the time.
Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Austria, and Germany have all imposed some form of border control amid the refugee crisis, ranging from simple document checks to razor wire fences.
More than one million refugees arrived in the European Union last year. Most of the asylum seekers hail from Syria, where a civil war has claimed the lives of 250,000 people and displaced 12 million others since 2011, according to UN figures.