By: The Guardian
February 5th marked a momentous day for the future of Syrian refugees in Europe. Not only did all of the member states present in the European Union pass three resolutions, they also ensured that the vast majority of the nations were appeased in the process. These decisions come in the midst of the Syrian refugee crisis which has left 6.6 million Syrians displaced from their homes, the burden of which is falling mostly on neighboring European countries such as Greece and Bulgaria. The resolutions called for intensified screening of refugees, the creation of security stations in common illegal smuggling positions in order to strengthen the security of countries’ borders, the establishment of Schengen zone officers to prevent against refugees’ being smuggled into that region, and the emphasis on refugee integration to lessen social and economic strain. The EU also called upon each participating European nation to donate 0.5% of their GDP for each of these endeavours, and 0.2% for countries who’s GDP per capita is less than €25,000.
One issue that was on many of the delegates’ minds in the EU concerned the ability for countries to uphold their promise to contributing to this effort, especially during times where a terrorist attack can happen anywhere and severely change countries’ views on refugees. When the delegate of the United Kingdom was asked about the loyalty of these nations, her response was:
“I have strong confidence in the countries to abide by these resolutions since we have found a way to accommodate and make amendments to what each nation can support through progressive thinking”.
Another underlying issue in this progressive and humanitarian endeavour is the resistance from those opposed to the settlement of Syrian refugees, especially far right-winged political parties in Europe, such as Germany’s Alternative for Germany party (AfD); however, the hope exhibited by the UK delegate was promising that the 35% of funding towards intensifying screening processes would ease the qualms of the individuals who oppose the acceptance of Syrian refugees. Specifically, she said that this would “ensure the safety of not only the refugees, but also our countries, thus lessening the confrontational nature some individuals have in this sensitive situation”.
In particular, learning of Poland’s change of heart from being unable to “implement a decision on the relocation of refugees”, as their European Affairs minister stated in the wake of the Paris attacks, to being a sponsor on one of these pro-refugee resolutions is inspiring for the future of other countries who do not see the merit in helping these victimized Syrians. Each of these nations were able to rid themselves of the plague that is short-termism, especially following massive terrorist attacks, and rethink their strategy to create a more sustainable solution.
With every EU nation taking a stand to contribute financially to this issue to help the countries at the root of the problem, they have shown compassion for the vulnerability of Syrian refugees’ and their struggle, as well as revealed the united front this union exemplifies. This is the type of cooperation that should be modelled from in other councils seeking to effect real change.
There seems to be hope for the plight of the Syrian refugees after this step forward; however, there is no denying that there are still nations outside of the EU who allow radical terrorist groups to divide them and proliferate stigmas against certain religions, which achieves terrorists’ goals. They also allow these groups to eclipse the value of these Syrian refugees, as those seeking refuge are more than just numbers, they are people. Compromise is not easy, especially when considering conflicting perspectives, but while there may be differences, the EU’s decisions are symbolic of the inherent desire in valiant leaders to be humanitarians and help those who do not have the means and voice they so rightly deserve.