September 13, 2015
For a continent long renowned for the excellent quality of its primary and secondary education, the beginning of the school year was until recently the season’s most important event. Not anymore. From Budapest to Brussels, government and Union officials have their hands full with the migrants’ crisis, which threatens to get out of control.
TV screens and the printed European media are full of images of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees heading for Germany as if they were heading for a second Mecca. Why Germany ? Syrians know fully well that the southern members of the Union have had their economies devastated by years of austerity and therefore could not provide the social benefits that Germany alone seems able to afford. Sure, a few hundred migrants have trickled into Denmark, Sweden or the Netherlands, but the governments and population of these countries are far less willing to accept their asylum demands.
Then there are Angela Merkel’s statements to the effect that all migrants who can reach Germany will be accepted, which have aggravated the latest exodus from Turkey. The reason why she has made such an uninspired statement – when it was already clear that the Syrians do not need additional encouragement – will remain a mystery to me. As a consequence of it, the EU is experiencing another serious split between its Western European states and the newer, ex-Soviet EU members. Hungary and the Visegrad countries have flatly refused the idea of compulsory quotas of migrants to be accommodated in their countries, while their leaders are doing their darnedest to stem the flow of Syrians towards Germany.
After the euro crisis which has provoked a split between the North and the South of the continent, a second split between West and East could further endanger the very existence of the EU. Already, opinion leaders and politicians from the Visegrad countries and even Romania have accused the EU Commission of adopting the behaviour they used to know during Soviet times. If this is not ominous for the future of the EU, I don’t know what is…