There is a long standing controversy between Brussels and the Eastern countries of the EU about the question of refugee quotas. The acceptance of non-European refugees is extremely unpopular in these countries and the local politicians are vehemently against it as well.

So why does the EU keep pushing for the quota system?

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    Because the opposite would require THEM to accept all the extra refugees and associated costs (political, social and economic) of those extras.
    – user4012
    May 16, 2017 at 20:36
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    @user4012 well, even with the quota system they are responsible for 99% of the refugees and the majority of those resettled to Eastern EU escape to the West anyway after some time. I don't understand why they won't simply drop the matter altogether. May 17, 2017 at 7:20
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    because if they drop it in this case, why shouldn't they drop it also in others?
    – Federico
    May 17, 2017 at 12:23
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    Because in a union you share burdens. The eastern countries refuse to share the burdens but want all the benefits. May 17, 2017 at 14:08
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    @Martin Schröder Merkel invited the refugees to Germany. It's a German problem.
    – user14816
    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


The EU is basically pushing for any plan to distribute refugees between member states (and not specifically targeting this or that country) for multiple reasons:

  • To deal with the sheer magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis and the great unbalance between destination countries. According to Wikipedia, Frontex counted 1.8M irregular entries in 2015, that's huge. And if you want to “share the load” as it were, you need to find somewhere to send these people.

    Germany is already taking a huge number, Sweden is taking even more compared to its population, Spain and especially Italy have to deal with people entering there directly, Greece is completely overloaded, France had more refugees than other countries (even Germany) before the crisis and is participating in resettlement programmes so it can plausibly resist calls to take many more. So, no matter how skeptical you might be regarding their capacity to process and accept refugees, you cannot make the numbers work without including smaller countries and the new member states in central and eastern Europe.

  • To fix the Dublin system. It was supposed to insulate northern and western member states from an influx of asylum seekers, thus allowing them to lift border checks without completely giving up control on who comes in the country or not. It was put under great strain when people started crossing the Mediterranean following the destablisation of Libya and completely fell apart in 2015-2016.

    Some national courts first interrupted transfers to some countries (especially Greece) then the ECJ basically suspended the Dublin system with respect to Greece and now many border countries fail to register asylum seekers or respond negatively to all Dublin requests so that the system is basically dead and needs to be replaced.

  • To get some handle on the refugee situation in the EU. There is a long-standing effort to harmonize this area of the law, with a string of regulation on asylum, the Return directive, and the Dublin system. Yet, the summer of 2015 saw complete chaos, with trains blocked and people lining up at the border, walking on the motorway or being rounded up. If it wants to avoid completely losing control and seeing member states resort to ad hoc and illegal national solutions (like the border checks France regularly performs at the border with Italy), the EU sorely needs to find something, anything, to deal with the crisis.

  • This is a good answer, however I don't specifically understand why they won't simply drop the matter in regards to the V4 and the Baltic states? There's already a concept of a two-speed EU so it's not exactly new for thirs to go in partial effect throughout the Union. May 18, 2017 at 5:26
  • @JonathanReez I am not sure I can answer that but note that a two-speed EU is something some member states have been hinting at from time to time, even Juncker might have made some comments in that direction, but generally speaking this is not something the EU bureaucracy is keen on. And the project has not been abandoned but I don't have the feeling it's pushing too hard. In this case, there are two other factors: the fact you need somewhere to send refugees, Merkel has been (unfairly IMO) criticised internally for her handling of the crisis so Germany won't drop it.
    – Relaxed
    May 18, 2017 at 5:34
  • The second factor is that a coherent approach to asylum and especially the Dublin system is a natural complement to the Schengen system. I know of some top EU civil servants who are genuinely concerned that the Schengen area could effectively fall apart within one or two years (think informal checks in France and Switzerland, border fence projects in Austria, “temporary” checks in Germany, Denmark…) That would be a major setback so it's difficult to simple drop the issue like some random new EU project or competence.
    – Relaxed
    May 18, 2017 at 5:38

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