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25/07/2016

Germany accepted twice as many refugees as Visegrad group

Justice & Home Affairs

Germany accepted twice as many refugees as Visegrad group

Milan Chovanec and Robert Kali?ák

[Czech Interior Ministry]

Last year, Eastern European member states admitted less than half the number of refugees than Germany took in, despite the 11 countries having a combined population that eclipses that of the Bundesrepublik. EurActiv Germany reports.

According to German media, in 2015, Eastern European member states accepted less than half the number of refugees than Germany. The Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that only 210,000 asylum applications were made, with more than 174,000 being made in Hungary alone. The data was provided by the European Statistics Office. According to the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees, 442,000 refugees filed asylum applications in Germany last year.

The 11 Eastern European member states – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia – are among the most vocal critics of the EU’s much-criticised relocation plan for refugees.  Slovakia and Hungary have even started legal proceedings at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg over the issue.

>>Read: Visegrad Four mobilise to keep Schengen intact

On Tuesday (19 January), the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia all spoke out once again against the quotas. The countries, belonging to the so-called Visegrad group, rejected the European Commission’s “binding quotas” for distributing refugees. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, speaking after a meeting in Prague, said that ensuring the “effectiveness” of hotspots on the external borders was more important.

The planned hotspots in Italy and Greece will soon mean that all arriving refugees are registered in situ, before being distributed among the member states. This includes checking and recording fingerprints and entering the data in a central database. The centres will be up and running in February, according to Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

>>Read: New refugee card could add to Germany’s bureaucratic woes

Chovanec called for the hotspots to be able to function like “detention centres” and to limit the movement of refugees. His Slovakian counterpart, Robert Kali?ák, said that “the fight against illegal migration without detention facilities is impossible”.