To make changes in the EU, 28 nations all have to agree. Thus, it takes years to negotiate treaties, in the best case scenario.
In regards to the refugee crisis, a number of countries have essentially to her highness, Angela Merkel “Go to hell”.
The average citizen is fed up, even in Germany. And things are about to get worse because a flood of migrants is again pouring into Europe, this time into Italy.
How will Merkel respond this time?
Please consider Europe’s Migrant Crisis is Back with a Vengeance.
In rubber dinghies and ramshackle wooden boats, refugees and migrants have been risking their lives in the Mediterranean this week in one desperate expedition after another. These voyages mock the notion that the EU is in command of the emergency engulfing its southern borders. Since Saturday, the Italian coastguard and other rescuers have saved about 13,000 people trying to make their way from north Africa to Italy.
According to the International Organisation for Migration, more than 106,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy between January 1 and August 28. More than 2,700 others died in these months trying to cross the central Mediterranean.
Except in Italy, these unpleasant truths are escaping many Europeans’ attention. Yet the calm is an illusion. The EU’s arrangement with Turkey is fragile and may fall apart before long, especially if European governments backtrack on their never entirely sincere promise to grant visa-free travel to Turks. In any case, large numbers of irregular migrants are arriving once more in Greece, where some 57,000 people are already holed up in miserable camps.
The focus of the refugee emergency has moved from the Greek and Turkish sea lanes to the central Mediterranean with a speed that has far outpaced the EU’s creaky decision-making machinery. Action requires a consensus among all 28 governments, but to varying degrees each sees the crisis through national lenses, paralysing the collective approach that is, in the end, the only method likely to achieve lasting results.
In the feverish pre-election climate of EU states such as Austria, France and the Netherlands, some politicians seek votes by depicting Islam as a menace to national identity.
Not all are on the extreme right. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, is fighting his re-election campaign on soil ploughed for years by Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s conservative nationalist premier, expects a resounding victory next month in a referendum he has called to reject EU-set refugee resettlement quotas. Elsewhere in central Europe, mainstream political leaders in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia regard western Europe’s attempts to integrate Muslims into the fabric of national life as a desecration of Christian civilisation.
Germany seemed immune to this kind of venom until Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrat chancellor, threw open its doors a year ago to 1m refugees. However, the rightwing populist, anti-Islamic Alternative for Germany performed strongly in this weekend's election in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - pushing Merkel into 3rd place. Ahead of the vote, Sigmar Gabriel, the Social Democratic party leader and deputy chancellor, opportunistically criticised Ms Merkel’s refugee policies, causing Peter Tauber, the CDU’s general secretary, to comment that Mr Gabriel’s “shamelessness knows no bounds”.
How Will Merkel Respond?
That’s easy. She will keep repeating “We can do this” until she is forced out of office by voters.