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Juncker calls for EU 'solidarity' over refugees

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 09.09.2015 12:09
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has called for the EU to show 'solidarity' in accepting new proposals for the distribution of 160,000 refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his first State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 09 September 2015.European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his first State of the Union address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 09 September 2015.

His appeal follows a lack of unity among EU member states, and in Poland's case, both Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and President Andrzej Duda have voiced reluctance to up quotas of refugees in recent days.

Poland is being called on to take in over 9,200 people, in addition to 2,000 already agreed in July.

Juncker said in his 'State of the Union' address on Wednesday that “there is not enough Europe in this Union, and there is not enough union in this Union.”

Speaking of the refugees, he stressed that “the vast majority of them are fleeing from war in Syria, the terror of the Islamic State in Libya or dictatorship in Eritrea.”

He acknowledged that Europe cannot house all the misery of the world, but let us be honest and put things into perspective,” arguing that refugees currently represent just 0.11 percent of the total EU population.

In Lebanon, refugees represent 25 percent of the population, and this in a country where people have only one fifth of the wealth we enjoy in the European Union.

We Europeans should remember well that Europe is a continent where nearly everyone has at one time been a refugee.

Our common history is marked by millions of Europeans fleeing from religious or political persecution, from war, dictatorship, or oppression.

Citing a catalogue of examples of exoduses throughout European history, he included Poles.

Have we forgotten that 20 million people of Polish ancestry live outside Poland, as a result of political and economic emigration after the many border shifts, forced expulsions and resettlements during Poland’s often painful history?”

He also criticised the way that some statesmen have divided the refugees according to faith.

Europe has made the mistake in the past of distinguishing between Jews, Christians, Muslims, he said.

There is no religion, no belief, no philosophy when it comes to refugees.”

Juncker said that “it is clear that the Member States where most refugees first arrive – at the moment, these are Italy, Greece and Hungary – cannot be left alone to cope with this challenge.

This is why the Commission already proposed an emergency mechanism in May, to relocate initially 40,000 people seeking international protection from Italy and Greece.

And this is why today we are proposing a second emergency mechanism to relocate a further 120,000 from Italy, Greece and Hungary.

I call on Member States to adopt the Commission proposals on the emergency relocation of altogether 160,000 refugees at the Extraordinary Council of Interior Ministers on 14 September,” he outlined.

Polish quota

Poland is being called on to take on 9,200 people in addition to the 2,000 already agreed this summer.

In July, the Polish government pledged to accept 2,000 Syrians and Eritreans over a two-year period.

These take in 900 people from camps in Lebanon, and 1,100 from camps in Italy and Greece.

President Andrej Duda said on Tuesday evening that he was against “the dictates” of stronger members of the EU, and “the division of refugees “should be realised in proportion to the capabilities of a state to provide help.(nh)

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