If Germany has legal right to accept millions of refugees and spread them around Europe using relocation schemes - then what stops any other EU country to do the same?

Are there limits how much they can possible accept? Otherwise anyone can accept unlimited amount of refugees - literally flooding the entire Africa and Middle East into Europe?

  • 3
    Germany didn't accept the refugees willingly and they didn't accept 100 million of them. Plus Eastern Europeans are vehemently against the refugee influx. Commented May 21, 2017 at 22:22
  • 5
    What do you mean with “spread them around Europe using relocation schemes”? Germany certainly does not have the right to do that unilaterally and in spite of all the effort and pressures, relocations have been quite limited so far.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 22:54
  • I mean that now all EU countries are obliged to take refugees depending on their economy size etc. Those countries that so far refused (like Poland) now are forced to pay fines.
    – user14429
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 23:18
  • common sense stops them from doing it. Commented May 22, 2017 at 2:02
  • 2
    What the Commission could already do is start infringement proceedings against countries who have not implemented this decision. It's been threatening to do so but so far hasn't. The could result in a fine imposed by the EU court of justice. Note that this scheme only concerns refugees from Greece and Italy and has been established by a Council decision (i.e. agreed by the member states), it's certainly not something that Germany or any other member states can force alone, under current EU law.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


No, there are no limits, simple as that.

Countries typically don't want more refugees than they absolutely have to accept (and, in spite of what you might have heard, that very much include Germany) but there is nothing preventing them from providing protection to anybody who meets the definition if they want to.

Case in point: You might have heard of the Dublin system. In spite of widespread confusion, it creates no obligation for refugees to formally seek asylum in one place rather than another and absolutely no obligation for a country to decline to process an application. What it does is offer a way for a country to get rid of an application (and force another country to take care of it). But it's always optional, each and every EU country legally retains the right to examine any application. In the case of the Dublin III regulation, that's even spelled out explicitly in article 17(1).

In fact, any quantitative limit is almost surely illegal, under international and EU law. You either meet or do not meet the definition. If you are the 1000000th person to enter the country during a year and you meet all the conditions to be considered a refugee and all the procedural requirements to see your application processed in that place, you are as much entitled to international protection as the first person who showed up.

Or said otherwise: You can be as restrictive as you want, take an absurd interpretation of the rules and effectively reject all applications (as Greece has been doing at some point) but not announce in advance that there will be a specific number you are prepared to accept.

  • 2
    I think something that is largely missed by people in the Germany discussion is that they did not necessarily want to allow all those refugees, but the German Constitution requires the country to take in all refugees. As such, Merkel and her party decided it would be unconstitutional to not allow the refugees in. It'd be similar to if in the US a group of black people or women wanted to vote and the local government didn't want to let them. They don't have a choice.
    – SGR
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 9:45
  • 2
    Another thing that many people perhaps do not understand is that the fact that a refugee has been accepted (or registered) in one country does not give them the automatic right to go anywhere in Europe. In practice the Schengen system makes it difficult to prevent movement, but EU members are perfectly within their rights to refuse to admit refugees registered elsewhere in Europe. This is what the UK does and explains the build-up of camps at Calais etc. Only EU citizens have the right to free movement.
    – WS2
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 10:06
  • Can you define what you mean by necessary refugees? Not being critical I just don't understand the meaning or significance. Is there a law regarding this?
    – SCFi
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:04
  • 1
    @SCFi I tried to clarify, sorry. I did not mean “necessary refugees”, more something like “refugees you have no other choice but to accept”, i.e. people who are already there. Once a person is physically present on your territory and unless you get another country to take them back (through the Dublin system or otherwise), you have to deal with them in some way.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:09
  • 1
    Legally, you have to extend protection if they meet the definition of a refugee. And practically, if they come from a country like Syria, you just cannot do anything else than let these people stay (the countries is at war, there are no flights to send them back there, etc.)
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:09

You must log in to answer this question.