Refugees issue in the EU: What options do Eurosceptics offer?

Author : Georgiy Kuhaleyshvili

Source : 112 Ukraine

Hungary, a country where Eurosceptics firmly hold power, makes it clear to other European countries that the supranational bodies of the EU have no right to decide for national governments whether to accept refugees or not
14:21, 10 April 2017

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The liberal migration policy of the "open door", whose apologist is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, led the EU into a deaf corner. In 2015, the EU hosted over a million refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other hot spots. The Brussels deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the placement of refugees in the Turkish refugees camps to the EU along the "Balkan route" (through the territory of Turkey and Greece) did not solve the problem. Last year, 364 thousand refugees reached the shores of Europe across the Mediterranean. Thousands more drowned on their way to Europe.

Together with the refugees in the EU, radical Islamists, connected with ISIS and other terrorist organizations, are getting too. Major acts of terrorism in Brussels and Nice last year took the lives of 116 people, in the slaughterhouse in the Paris theater "Bataclan" in 2015, Islamic extremists killed 130 people. The international public was shocked by the terrorist attack in central London in late March. Adrian Elms (Khalid Masood after conversion to Islam), turned to Islam and killed 4 people with his car. Over 20 were injured.

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The governments of the EU member states spend large sums on the maintenance of refugees. The costs of Germany amounted to 20 billion euros in 2016. This is not counting the 6 billion euros that the EU should allocate to Turkey until 2018 for the maintenance of 3 million refugees under the agreements. There is a threat that all this mass of refugees will sooner or later pour into the EU if Turkey refuses to keep them on its territory. The relationship between Europe and Turkey has become cold after last year, Brussels froze the question of the accession of its southern neighbor to the EU.

Most European governments continue to inertly follow the "open door" policy towards refugees. They agreed with the proposal of the European Commission to additionally settle 160,000 refugees by quotas by September 2017. But among ordinary Europeans, discontent with the liberal migration policy of the EU is growing. Some political forces offer their solutions to the problem of refugees and the way out of the migration crisis.

Hungarian "Fidesz": from conversations to action

Refugee issue in Hungary could be radically solved by the ruling conservative party Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Union of Prime Minister Victor Orban, who has a reputation as a Eurosceptic. Hungary is the only EU member state that has moved into open opposition to Brussels. The Hungarian authorities refuse to resettle 1,294 refugees on the territory of their country at the request of the EU. The Government of Hungary is conducting an information campaign "Stop Brussels". Within the framework of the campaign, among the Hungarian households a survey "National Consultations-2017" is conducted. The government wants to know the Hungarians' opinion on the need to establish surveillance for refugees and their detention in camps in the border area. In Hungary, new rules were adopted that allow refugees to be kept in containers camps.

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Along the state border with Serbia and Croatia, through the territory of which refugees penetrate to Hungary, special fences are being built, staffed with video surveillance. According to Victor Orban, these fences can withstand the influx of large crowds of refugees. Since the beginning of this year, four military containers bases have been built in Hungary, where the military will be stationed for patrolling border areas and timely detaining refugees for subsequent deportation. For several months in 2016, Hungarian military expelled 621 refugees from Hungary.

The policy of Fidesz party, which takes 133 out of 199 seats in the parliament, reflects the mood of the Hungarian society. In their mass, the Hungarians negatively regarded the reception of refugees. In October 2016, Hungary held a referendum in which 98% of the participants (42%) voted against resettlement of refugees within the EU quotas. Hungarians are familiar with the problem of refugees, not by hearsay. In 2015, the country's territory was crossed by 400 thousand descendants from the countries of Asia and Africa on their way to the countries of Western Europe. Hungarian society fears that the influx of refugees will cause a rise in the terrorist threat and conflicts on ethno-religious grounds. Periodically there are conflicts with the Roma in Hungary.

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Anti-immigrant sentiment is speculated by the ultra-right party "Jobbik," which is trying to increase its popularity in Hungarian society. "Jobbik" flirts with Russia, opposes integration into the EU and NATO. Representatives of this political force participated in the congress of ultra-right parties in Europe on the territory of Russia. "Jobbik" is the third in terms of the number of seats in the parliament (23 seats), and during the elections of 2014 it was supported by 20% of the population of Hungary.

The current power of Hungary makes it clear to the European Union that its citizens are afraid of terrorist attacks in their cities and new social conflicts and does not spare money for the sake of tightening migration policies and strengthening their borders. Otherwise, the party of Eurosceptics "Jobbik" may come to power, and this will be a new headache for the EU. Despite the fact that for harsh treatment of refugees, the Hungarian government has become the object of criticism of human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, some progress has been made in resolving the refugee issue. Last year, only 425 foreigners (out of 29,4 thousand applications) received political asylum in Hungary (Germany accepted 280 thousand refugees in 2016). Hungary makes it clear to other European countries that the supranational bodies of the EU have no right to decide for national governments whether to accept refugees or not.

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German alternative to "open doors" of Brussels

Not everyone in Germany agrees with the EU's "open door" policy. According to the survey of the Insa agency, about 39.9% of Germans consider Chancellor Angela Merkel's migration policy as a weak point. More than 1 million refugees live in Germany now. Even some German officials disagree with the Chancellor. Head of the administration in Landshut stated that if Germany intends to receive another million refugees, then its city would accept no more than 1,800 people, and the rest of the refugees would be sent by bus to Berlin. Popularity in Germany is gaining anti-Islamic movement Pegida, which arranges rallies in protest against the admission of new refugees.

Against this background, party of far-right Eurosceptics "Alternative for Germany" (AfD), leaded by Frauke Petri, is gaining popularity. Among the Germans, AfD leader was nicknamed "Adolfina", in honor of Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler, for overly extremist views on the solution of the refugee problem. Frauke Petri is convinced that "comprehensive control" is needed to prevent the emergence of new refugees in the country. It is necessary to strengthen the protection of the borders of Germany with neighboring countries in order to detain persons who are trying to cross them in a timely manner. In extreme cases, in her opinion, the use of armed forces is possible. In the media, these words were interpreted by Frauke Petri as calling for the use of military force against refugees who would try to illegally enter Germany. In parallel, Petri proposes to radically change Germany's sociocultural policy towards Muslims. Petri proposes to ban minarets, prayers in public places and even circumcision for Muslim boys, which, in her opinion, is a manifestation of "human rights violations."

Given that the migration crisis continues to be an urgent problem, enough Germans can vote for AfD at the upcoming parliamentary elections in Germany. In the last regional elections, it took the second position (20.8% of the citizens voted for the AfD), second after the Social Democratic Party of Germany. 19% of Germans voted for the ruling party of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Angela Merkel in the regional elections. Recall that AfD, like many other Eurosceptic parties, supports the rapprochement of Germany and the European Union with Russia, the abolition of anti-Russian sanctions.

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De-Islamization of Dutch and French Eurosceptics

Equally acute is the problem of refugees in France and Holland. In 2015, France received 71 thousand refugees. For two years, the number of refugees in the Netherlands has increased and amounted to 47.5 thousand people. Citizens of these states have felt the consequences of the migration crisis on their safety. Last year, 15 terrorist attacks took place on the territory of France. According to the Ministry of Security and Justice of the Netherlands, about 40 terrorists arrived in Holland in 2016. Of these, only 3 terrorists connected with ISIS have so far been detained. Holland has the 4th level of the terrorist threat on a 5-point scale. Despite this, the governments of the countries does not intend to toughen the migration regime. Until September 2017, France is going to receive 24 thousand refugees, and the Netherlands - 7 thousand.

In these circumstances, local Eurosceptics like Marin Le Pen, leader of the French National Front Party, and Gert Wilders, who heads the Dutch Freedom Party, proposed the idea of de-Islamization as an alternative to the existing EU migration policy. They believe that if their countries leave the EU it would be easier to solve the accumulated heap of problems, because the national authorities will not interfere in the internal affairs of France and Holland. Politicians view Islam as a manifestation of totalitarianism and a threat to European civilization.

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Gert Wilders believes that in order to solve the migration crisis, it is first of all necessary to close the borders for refugees and migrants from Muslim countries. Then it is necessary to engage Muslims inside Holland - to deprive them of their residence permit or refugee status.

Wilders calls for the closure of all mosques, Muslim schools, centers for the detention of refugees, prohibiting any manifestations of Islam, culture and self-expression of Muslims, including the Koran, in the public life of the Netherlands. He proposes to imprison all suspected of involvement in Islamic extremism, to deprive the Dutch passport of persons with dual citizenship, with subsequent deportation to the "homeland" and not let into the territory of the Netherlands citizens who took part in the fighting in Syria on the side of ISIS. According to Wilders, these measures will help Holland save 7.2 billion euros.

Marin Le Pen adheres to a more "soft" approach in de-Islamization. She believes that France has the right to impose a restriction on the reception of refugees to 10 thousand people a year. Le Pen is convinced that France should abandon cheaper labor from abroad and introduce additional taxes for foreign workers. The leader of the "National Front" proposes to simplify the mechanism of deportation and complicate the procedure for obtaining French citizenship for migrants. Dutch and French Eurosceptics are betting on the introduction of such bans, which would make the uncomfortable stay of refugees and migrants in their countries.

Gert Wilders has ambiguous positions in Dutch society. His "Party of Freedom" lost the election of the ruling "People's Party for Freedom and Democracy" of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. "People's Party for Freedom and Democracy" took 33 out of 150 seats in the Dutch parliament and formed a coalition with the "Labor Party". "Party of freedom" of Wilders with its 20 seats in parliament again remained in opposition. At the same time, the Dutch Eurosceptics took the second place in the parliamentary elections by the number of votes and represent the largest faction in the parliament. The ideas of Marine Le Pen have supporters in French society. Enough French citizens are negative about a large number of foreigners in their state. According to the French edition of TheLocal, about 57% of French people think that France is oversaturated by migrants, who, according to 54% of respondents, do not change it for the better.

Related: BBC: Europe migrant crisis: Germany expects 'up to 300,000' this year

Danish selectivity: let us leave the best and deport the worst

In Denmark, there is a young party of Eurosceptics of Nye Borgerlige ("New Order") by architect Pernil Vermund. Unlike Eurosceptics from other countries, Vermund's approaches to solving the refugee problem are more moderate, and they are based on a selective approach. Vermund believes that Denmark can grant political asylum only to those refugees who are sent by the UN. A refugee who is worthy of living in Denmark must be able to take care of himself, have a profession, find a job. Those refugees who cannot take care of themselves should not receive political asylum.

According to Pernil Vermund, Denmark should not only come out of the EU, but also from international legal documents that regulate issues related to refugees: the Convention on the Status of Refugees, the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. Thus, Denmark can remove from itself the grounds for the reception of refugees. Nye Borgerlige is present in 9 cities and 1 regional administration, has offices in 51 settlements and intends to take part in the nearest local and parliamentary elections.

The migration crisis in the EU will not be resolved until the governments of the member states tighten the migration policy. The security of its citizens is more important than the point of view of European officials regarding the reception of new refugees.

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