One year since Germany controversially opened its arms to Syrians fleeing war, the EU has tightened the borders of “Fortress Europe” but remains deeply divided over how to share the refugee burden.
Angela Merkel justified her decision at the time by saying that the biggest migrant crisis since World War II “did not reflect well on Europe”, yet other countries furiously accused her of opening the floodgates.
Since last year when one million migrants entered the continent, the EU has successfully shut the main Balkans route, while a deal with Turkey has massively reduced numbers reaching the Greek islands.
However the bloc’s flagship scheme to share out refugees around the bloc has been an embarrassing failure — meeting just two percent of its target — while deaths in the Mediterranean have actually risen this year.
Yves Pascouau, director of migration at the European Policy Centre think-tank, told AFP that the “idea of cutting migration routes, in terms of realpolitik, has worked effectively.”
But the deal with post-coup-bid Turkey is “fragile” and “we have still not succeeded in overcoming the divisions between member states” on sharing out migrants and on reforming asylum rules.