Why next week’s EU plan looks to be impossible

Next week 28 EU foreign ministers are supposed to agree the outline plan made last week between Angela Merkel and Turkey. The two main features of this are that (a) all those Syrians who’ve managed o get to Greece and are now trapped are to be returned to Turkey; (b) they, together with Syrians already in refugee camps in Turkey, will then be chosen — by lottery or assessment? — to go legitimately to the EU in the same numbers as those already mentioned in (a).

Ignoring all the intermediate logistical problems to do with the return of Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Iranians and all those assumed to be economic migrants — way too complicated to be contemplated here, never mind being discussed — is how are perhaps half a million (b)s going to be shared out among the EU countries? Most will only want to go to Germany, Sweden or England.

England won’t have them at all because it says that we are already taking in enough Syrian camp refugees. Germany and Sweden won’t take them because a rising tide of far right-wing opposition parties have arisen since Merkel came up with her idea of open doors four weeks ago. It is already obvious that many other EU countries will also not take any in by default. It looks like an impossible situation to me.

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