World

Most Europeans Support Merkel’s Plan To Distribute Refugees Among EU

CREDIT: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures regarding the space between chairs as she speaks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban prior to the start of a round table meeting during an EU summit in Brussels on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to distribute the refugee population fairly throughout European Union member states has come under considerable criticism from opponents in Germany and in other parts of Europe. But a new poll released by Bertelsmann Stiftung, indicates that a vast majority of Europeans agree with Merkel’s proposed plans.

“[79 percent] said that asylum seekers should be distributed fairly among member states, with 69 percent agreeing that states which do not comply should be punished through the withdrawal of EU financial aid,” Germany’s version of the Local reported.

Merkel’s plan involves each European country taking a fair number of refugees from Turkey in exchange for economic aid. Official figures have not been widely reported, but the figure would likely be based on each individual country’s capacity to provide aid for the refugees based on population and economic strength. If Merkel can convince her European comrades to alleviate the burden from Turkey, the Turkish government promised to provide Syrians with work permits in an attempt to keep them from moving on to Europe. In exchange, visa restrictions for Turkish citizens will relax and Turkey’s EU membership process will be fast-tracked.

The main opposition to the plan has come from the Visegrad Four — an eastern European bloc of states that includes Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The most vocal of these states has been Hungary, whose Prime Minister likened Merkel’s policies to “moral imperialism” and said that Hungarians “do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country.”

“The Hungarian people don’t want this,” Hungarian PM Viktor Orban said, referring to Merkel’s refugee redistribution plan, in September last year, “we ask that the wishes of Hungarians be respected.”

The study, however, shows that 54 percent of people in those four countries favor Merkel’s quota system.

“A continent that can’t agree with its neighbors about this, that hides behind fences some distance back from the real border, that can’t be the European solution,” Merkel told the German parliament on Tuesday. “I am firmly convinced of that.”