The inaction certainly won’t stop the flow of people moving across Europe, nor will it provide any relief to authorities in individual European Union countries trying to slow them down.
These sentiments are exacerbated by the fact that family members are often not allowed to follow them to Switzerland, they have restricted access to the labour market and they cannot leave Swiss territory, she said. Most European Union lawmakers and senior officials decided instead to go to lunch.
If Germany takes in 500,000 of those people per year for “several years“, as German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has suggested it could, the country will be absorbing the equivalent of 0.6 percent of its population – or about 1 in every 160 people.
A list of recommended measures to be taken by Switzerland was published days after a representative from the United Nations’ refugee agency (UNHCR) berated Switzerland for not granting more Syrians full refugee status rather than temporary residency.
Wednesday’s summit in Brussels is unlikely to be an exception. The situation would have been different if he and his office had reacted speedily, he said.
It has led humanitarian groups to call on the Government to loosen its strict asylum application and visa rules at the same time as rethinking its refusal to share responsibility for taking in the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled to Europe.
After talks on Monday between Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, all of whom oppose quotas, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek insisted the four were still “absolutely dedicated” to finding a solution.
Officials hope some compromise on the relocation scheme can be found at a meeting of interior ministers on Tuesday, to prevent the summit being consumed by the same thorny issue.
The head of Germany’s refugee office, criticised for its handling of record numbers of asylum seekers, today unexpectedly stepped down citing “personal grounds” as the country grapples with a massive influx of refugees mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The same meeting also provisionally agreed to provide more money to help refugees in frontline states such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan – the idea being that fewer will then come to the EU. And until Dr Merkel brings some clarity to this, it is in the interest of the other countries through which migrants pass to continue pushing them towards Germany, thereby perpetuating the flow.
Meanwhile, numbers are swelling.
Lisa Doyle, from the Refugee Council, said the figures “clearly demonstrate Britain must do more” to help the refugees arriving in Europe.