The European migrant crisis, also known as the refugee crisis, was a period characterised by high numbers of people arriving in the European Union (EU) from across the Mediterranean Sea or overland through Southeast Europe. The migrant crisis (officially from 2015 to 2019) was part of a pattern of increased immigration to Europe from other continents which began in the mid-20th century. Between January 2015 and March 2016, according to the UNHCR, the top three nationalities among over one million Mediterranean Sea arrivals were Syrian refugees (46.7%), Afghan refugees (20.9%) and Iraqi refugees (9.4%). Opposition to immigration in many European countries appeared to result partly from the socio-economic threat they were perceived to represent. According to the President of the EC in November 2015, there was a "race against time" to save the "Schengen Agreement". The number of illegal crossings fallen from 1.8 million in 2015 to 204,219 in 2017. In March 2019, the EC declared the migrant crisis to be at an end.
The majority of people arriving in Italy and Greece especially have been from countries mired in war (Syrian civil war (2011present), War in Afghanistan (2001present), Iraqi conflict (2003present)) or which otherwise are considered to be 'refugee-producing' and for whom international protection is needed. However, a smaller proportion is from elsewhere, and for many of these individuals, the term 'migrant' would be correct." Immigrants (a person from a non-EU country establishing his or her usual residence in the territory of an EU country for a period that is, or is expected to be, at least twelve months) include asylum seekers and economic migrants. Some research suggested that record population growth in Africa and the Middle East was one of the drivers of the crisis, and it was also suggested that global warming could increase migratory pressures in the future. In rare cases, immigration has been a cover for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants disguised as refugees or migrants.
Most of the migrants came from regions south and east of Europe, including the Greater Middle East and Africa. Of the migrants arriving in Europe by sea in 2015, 58% were males over 18 years of age (77% of adults), 17% were females over 18 (22% of adults) and the remaining 25% were under 18. By religious affiliation, the majority of entrants were Muslim, with a small component of non-Muslim minorities (including Yazidis, Assyrians and Mandeans). The number of deaths at sea rose to record levels in April 2015, when five boats carrying almost 2,000 migrants to Europe sank in the Mediterranean Sea, with a combined death toll estimated at more than 1,200 people. The shipwrecks took place in a context of ongoing conflicts and refugee crises in several Asian and African countries, which increased the total number of forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2014 to almost 60 million, the highest level since World War II.
Between 2007 and 2011, large numbers of migrants from the Middle East and Africa crossed between Turkey and Greece, leading Greece and the European Border Protection agency Frontex to upgrade border controls. In 2012, immigrant influx into Greece by land decreased by 95 percent after the construction of a fence on that part of the GreekTurkish frontier which does not follow the course of the Maritsa River. In 2015, Bulgaria followed by upgrading a border fence to prevent migrant flows through Turkey.
Between 2010 and 2013, around 1.4 million non-EU nationals, asylum seekers and refugees not included, immigrated in the EU each year, while around 750,000 of such non-EU nationals emigrated from the EU in those years, resulting in around 650,000 net immigration each year, but decreasing from 750,000 to 540,000 between 2010 and 2013.
Prior to 2014, the number of asylum applications in the EU peaked in 1992 (672,000), 2001 (424,000) and 2013 (431,000). In 2014 it reached 626,000. According to the UNHCR, the EU countries with the biggest numbers of recognised refugees at the end of 2014 were France (252,264), Germany (216,973), Sweden (142,207) and the United Kingdom (117,161). No European state was among the top ten refugee-hosting countries in the world.
Prior to 2014, the number of illegal border crossings detected by Frontex at the external borders of the EU peaked in 2011, with 141,051 total (sea and land combined).
According to Eurostat, EU member states received over 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015, more than double that of the previous year. Four states (Germany, Hungary, Sweden and Austria) received around two-thirds of the EU's asylum applications in 2015, with Hungary, Sweden and Austria being the top recipients of asylum applications per capita. More than 1 million migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea in 2015, considerably dropping to 364,000 in 2016. Numbers of arriving migrants fell again in 2017.
In 2010 the European Commission commissioned a study on the financial, political and legal implications of a relocation of migrants in Europe. The report concluded that there were several options for dealing with the issues relating to migration within Europe, and that most member states favoured an "ad hoc mechanism based on a pledging exercise among the Member States".
Article 26 of the Schengen Convention says that carriers which transport people into the Schengen area shall if they transport people who are refused entry into the Schengen Area, be responsible to pay for the return of the refused people, and pay penalties. Further clauses on this topic are found in EU directive 2001/51/EC. This has had the effect that migrants without a visa are not allowed on aircraft, boats or trains going into the Schengen Area, so migrants without a visa have resorted to migrant smugglers. Humanitarian visas are in general not given to refugees who want to apply for asylum.
The laws on migrant smuggling ban helping migrants to pass any national border if the migrants are without a visa or other permission to enter. This has caused many airlines to check for visas and refuse passage to migrants without visas, including through international flights inside the Schengen Area. After being refused air passage, many migrants then attempt to travel overland to their destination country. According to a study carried out for the European Parliament, "penalties for carriers, who assume some of the control duties of the European police services, either block asylum-seekers far from Europe's borders or force them to pay more and take greater risks to travel illegally".
Factors cited as immediate triggers or causes of the sudden and massive increase in migrant numbers in the summer of 2015 along the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Balkan route (Turkey-Greece-North Macedonia-Serbia-Hungary) include:
The opening of the North Macedonia route enabled migrants from the Middle East to take very short, inexpensive voyages from the coast of Turkey to the Greek Islands, instead of the far longer, more perilous, and far more expensive voyage from Libya to Italy. According to the Washington Post, in addition to reducing danger, this lowered the cost from around $56,000 to $23,000.
On 18 June 2015 the government of North Macedonia announced that it was changing its policy on migrants entering the country illegally. Previously, migrants were forbidden from transiting North Macedonia, causing those who chose to do so to take perilous, clandestine modes of transit, such as walking along railroad tracks at night. Beginning in June, migrants were given three-day, temporary asylum permits, enabling them to travel by train and road.
In the summer of 2015, the situation on the western Balkan route worsened. Several thousand people passed through North Macedonia and Serbia every day, and more than 100,000 by July.  Hungary started building the border fence with Serbia. Both states were overwhelmed organizationally and economically. In August 2015, a police crackdown on migrants crossing from Greece failed in North Macedonia, causing the police to instead turn their attention to diverting migrants north, into Serbia. On 18 October 2015, Slovenia began restricting admission to 2,500 migrants per day, stranding migrants in Croatia as well as Serbia and North Macedonia. The humanitarian conditions were catastrophic; Refugees were waiting for illegal helpers at illegal assembly points without any infrastructure.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed Europe and the United States for the migrant crisis, saying most of the refugees are fleeing the "terrorism" that he accuses the West of fomenting by supporting elements of the Syrian opposition. Meanwhile, the Syrian government announced increased military conscription, and simultaneously made it easier for Syrians to obtain passports, leading Middle East policy experts to speculate that he was implementing a policy to encourage opponents of his regime to "leave the country".
NATO's four-star General in the United States Air Force commander in Europe stated on the issue of indiscriminate weapons used by Bashar al-Assad, and the non-precision use of weapons by the Russian forces are the reason which cause refugees to be on the move. Gen. Philip Breedlove accused Russia and the Assad regime of "deliberately weaponizing migration in an attempt to overwhelm European structures and break European resolve".
Europe needs to fulfil its humanitarian duty, helping those fleeing for their lives, and as a Christian-Democrat, I want to reiterate that is not Christian rights, but human rights that Europe invented. But we also need to better secure our external borders and make sure that asylum rules are used properly and not abused.
Manfred Weber, leader of the European People's Party in the European Parliament.
Slavoj iek identifies a "double blackmail" in the debate on the migrant crisis: those who argue Europe's borders should be entirely opened to refugees, and those who argue that the borders should be closed completely.[pageneeded]
European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said that the European Commission "does not care about the political cost" of its handling of the migration crisis, because it's there for five years to do its job "with vision, responsibility and commitment" and what drives it "is not to be re-elected", and invited European national leaders to do likewise and stop worrying about reelection.
On 31 August 2015, according to The New York Times, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union, in some of her strongest language theretofore on the immigrant crisis, warned that freedom of travel and open borders among the 28 member states of the EU could be jeopardised if they did not agree on a shared response to this crisis.
Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republicans and former French president, compared EU migrant plan to "mending a burst pipe by spreading water round the house while leaving the leak untouched". Following German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow tens of thousands of people to enter Germany, Sarkozy criticised her, saying that it would attract even greater numbers of people to Europe, where a significant part would "inevitably" end up in France due to the EU's free movement policies and the French welfare state. He also demanded that the Schengen agreement on borderless travel should be replaced with a new agreement providing border checks for non-EU citizens.
Italian Prime Minister and Secretary of the Italian Democratic Party Matteo Renzi said the EU should forge a single European policy on asylum. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls of the French Socialist Party stated, "There must be close cooperation between the European Commission and member states as well as candidate members." Sergei Stanishev, President of the Party of European Socialists, stated:
At this moment, more people in the world are displaced by conflict than at any time since the Second World War. ... Many die on the approach to Europe in the Mediterranean yet others perish on European soil. ... As social democrats the principle of solidarity is the glue that keeps our family together. ... We need a permanent European mechanism for fairly distributing asylum-seekers in European member states. ... War, poverty and the stark rise in inequality are global, not local problems. As long as we do not address these causes globally, we cannot deny people the right to look for a more hopeful future in a safer environment.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the appeal of Eurosceptic politicians has increased.
Nigel Farage, leader of the British anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party and co-leader of the eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group, blamed the EU "and Germany in particular" for giving "huge incentives for people to come to the European Union by whatever means" and said that this would make deaths more likely. He claimed that the EU's Schengen agreement on open borders had failed and that Islamists could exploit the situation and enter Europe in large numbers, saying that "one of the ISIL terrorist suspects who committed the first atrocity against holidaymakers in Tunisia has been seen getting off a boat onto Italian soil". In 2013, Farage had called on the UK government to accept more Syrian refugees, before clarifying that those refugees should be Christian due to the existence of nearer places of refuge for Muslims.Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Front and co-president of the former Europe of Nations and Freedom (EMF) grouping, accused Germany of looking to hire "slaves" by opening its doors to large numbers of asylum seekers among a debate in Germany whether there should be exceptions to the recently introduced minimum wage law for refugees. Le Pen also accused Germany of imposing its immigration policy on the rest of the EU unilaterally. Her comments were reported by the German and Austrian press, and were called "abstruse claims" by the online edition of Der Spiegel. Centreright daily Die Welt wrote that she "exploits the refugee crisis for anti-German propaganda".
Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom (a member of the former EMF grouping), who is known for his criticism of Islam, called the influx of people an "Islamic invasion" during a debate in the Dutch parliament, speaking about "masses of young men in their twenties with beards singing Allahu Akbar across Europe". He also dismissed the idea that people arriving in Western Europe via the Balkans are genuine refugees, stating: "Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia are safe countries. If you flee them then you are doing it for benefits and a house."
After the migrant shipwreck on 19 April 2015, Italy's Premier Matteo Renzi spoke by telephone to French President Franois Hollande and to Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. They agreed to call for an emergency meeting of European interior ministers to address the problem of migrant deaths. Renzi condemned human trafficking as a "new slave trade" while Prime Minister Muscat said 19 April shipwreck was the "biggest human tragedy of the last few years". Hollande described people traffickers as "terrorists" who put migrant lives at risk. The German government's representative for migration, refugees and integration, Aydan zouz, said that with more migrants likely to arrive as the weather turned warmer, emergency rescue missions should be restored. "It was an illusion to think that cutting off Mare Nostrum would prevent people from attempting this dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean", she said. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, called for collective EU action ahead of a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday 20 April.
In a press conference, Renzi confirmed that Italy had called an "extraordinary European council" meeting as soon as possible to discuss the tragedy, various European leaders agreed with this idea. Cameron tweeted on 20 April that he "supported" Renzi's "call for an emergency meeting of EU leaders to find a comprehensive solution" to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. He later confirmed that he would attend an emergency summit of European leaders on Thursday.
On 20 April 2015, the European Commission proposed a 10-point plan to tackle the crisis:
A year after the 10-point plan was introduced[when?], the European Commission also began the process for reforming the Common European Asylum system.
Started in 1999, the European Commission began devising a plan to create a unified asylum system for those seeking refuge and asylum. Named the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), the system sought to address three key problems which consisted of asylum shopping, differing outcomes in different EU Member States for those seeking asylum, and differing social benefits in different EU Member States for those seeking asylum.
In an attempt to address these issues, the European Commission created five components that sought to fulfill minimum standards for asylum:
Completed in 2005, the Common European Asylum System sought to protect the rights those seeking asylum. The system proved to create differing implementation across EU states, building an uneven system of twenty-eight asylum systems across individual states. Due to this divided asylum system and problems with the Dublin system, the European Commission proposed a reform of the Common European Asylum System in 2016.
Starting on 6 April 2016, the European Commission began the process of reforming the Common European Asylum System and creating measures for safe and managed paths for legal migration to Europe. First Vice-President Frans Timmermans stated that, "we need a sustainable system for the future, based on common rules, a fairer sharing of responsibility, and safe legal channels for those who need protection to get it in the EU."
The European Commission identified five areas that needed improvement in order to successfully reform the Common European Asylum System:
To create safer and more efficient legal migration routes, the European Commission sought to meet the following five goals:
On 13 July 2016, the European Commission introduced the proposals to complete the reform of the Common European Asylum System. The reform sought to create a just policy for asylum seekers, while providing a new system that was simple and shortened. Ultimately, the reform proposal attempted to create a system that could handle normal and impacted times of migratory pressure.
The European Commission's outline for reform proposed the following:
The 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck involved "more than 360" deaths, leading the Italian government to establish Operation Mare Nostrum, a large-scale naval operation that involved search and rescue, with some migrants brought aboard a naval amphibious assault ship. In 2014, the Italian government ended the operation, calling the costs too large for one EU state alone to manage; Frontex assumed the main responsibility for search and rescue operations. The Frontex operation is called Operation Triton. The Italian government had requested additional funds from the EU to continue the operation but member states did not offer the requested support. The UK government cited fears that the operation was acting as "an unintended 'pull factor', encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths". The operation consisted of two surveillance aircraft and three ships, with seven teams of staff who gathered intelligence and conducted screening/identification processing. Its monthly budget was estimated at 2.9million. Amid an upsurge in the number of sea arrivals in Italy from Libya in 2014, several European Union governments refused to fund the Italian-run rescue option Operation Mare Nostrum, which was replaced by Frontex's Operation Triton in November 2014. In the first six months of 2015, Greece overtook Italy in the number of arrivals, becoming in the summer of 2015 the starting point of a flow of refugees and migrants moving through Balkan countries to Northern European countries, mainly Germany and Sweden.
The Guardian and Reuters noted that doubling the size of Operation Triton would still leave the mission with fewer resources than the previous Italian-run rescue option (Operation Mare Nostrum) whose budget was more than 3 times as large, had 4 times the number of aircraft and had a wider mandate to conduct search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean Sea.
On 23 April 2015, a five-hour emergency summit was held and EU heads of state agreed to triple the budget of Operation Triton to 120million for 20152016. EU leaders claimed that this would allow for the same operational capabilities as Operation Mare Nostrum had had in 20132014. As part of the agreement the United Kingdom agreed to send HMSBulwark, two naval patrol boats and three helicopters to join the Operation. On 5 May 2015 it was announced by the Irish Minister of Defence Simon Coveney that the L Eithne would also take part in the response to the crisis. Amnesty International immediately criticised the EU response as "a face-saving not a life-saving operation" and said that "failure to extend Triton's operational area will fatally undermine today's commitment".
On 18 May 2015, the European Union decided to launch a new operation based in Rome, called EU Navfor Med, under the command of the Italian Admiral Enrico Credendino, to undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and dispose of vessels used by migrant smugglers. The first phase of the operation, launched on 22 June, involved naval surveillance to detect smugglers' boats and monitor smuggling patterns from Libya towards Italy and Malta. The second phase, called "Operation Sophia", started in October, and was aimed at disrupting the smugglers' journeys by boarding, searching, seizing and diverting migrant vessels in international waters. The operation uses six EU warships. As of April 2016, more than 13,000 migrants were rescued from the sea and 68 alleged smugglers were arrested in the course of the operation.
The EU seeks to increase the scope of EU Navfor Med so that a third phase of the operation would include patrols inside Libyan waters in order to capture and dispose of vessels used by smugglers. Land operations on Libya to destroy vessels used by smugglers had been proposed, but commentators note that such an operation would need a UN or Libyan permit.
The Greek islands (Kos, Leros, Chios, for example) serve as main entry points into Europe for Syrian refugees.
The entry routes through the Western Balkan have experienced the greatest intensity of border restrictions in the 2015 EU migrant crisis, according to The New York Times and other sources, as follows:
Beginning in 1999, the Tampere Agenda outlines the EUs policy on migration, presenting a certain openness towards freedom, security, and justice. This agenda focuses on two central issues, including the development of a common asylum system and the enhancement of external border controls. The externalization of borders with Turkey is essentially the transferring of border controls and management to foreign countries, which are in close proximity to EU countries. The EUs decision to externalize its borders puts significant pressure on non-EU countries to cooperate with EU political forces.
Communication on Global Approach to Migration and Mobility" (GAMM). The Migration Partnership Framework introduced in 2016 implements greater resettlement of migrants and alternative legal routes for migration. The Migration Partnership Framework's goals aligns with the EUs efforts throughout the refugee crisis to deflect responsibility and legal obligations away from EU member states and onto transit and origin countries.  By directing migrant flows to third countries,[clarification needed] policies place responsibilities on third countries[clarification needed]. States with insufficient resources are forced (by law) to ensure the protection of migrants rights, including the right to asylum. Destination states under border externalization strategies are responsible for rights violated outside their own territory. Fundamental rights of migrants can be impacted during the process of externalizing borders. For example, child migrants are recognized to have special status under international law, yet during transit, they are vulnerable to trafficking and other crimes.
Between 11 and 12 November 2015, Valletta Summit on Migration between European and African leaders was held in Valletta, Malta, to discuss the migrant crisis. The summit resulted in the EU setting up an Emergency Trust Fund to promote development in Africa, in return for African countries to help out in the crisis.
According to the Washington Post, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's public pledges (at a time of diplomatic standoff with the government of Hungary at the beginning of September, when tens of thousands of refugees were attempting to cross Hungarian territory without getting processed for asylum application in the country) that Germany would offer temporary residency to refugees, combined with television footage of cheering Germans welcoming refugees and migrants arriving in Munich, persuaded large numbers of people to move from Turkey up the Western Balkan route.
On 25 August 2015 according to The Guardian 'Germany's federal agency for migration and refugees' made it public, that "The #Dublin procedure for Syrian citizens is at this point in time effectively no longer being adhered to". During a press conference, "Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maizire, confirmed that the suspension of the Dublin agreement was "not as such a legally binding act", but more of a "guideline for management practice". Around 24 August 2015, while thousands of migrants tried to reach Western Europe through the Balkans, a considerable proportion of them fleeing the Syrian Civil War, and noticing that most of the burden of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea fell on the peripheral southern EU member states Greece and Italy, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to news media, decided to no longer follow the rule under the 'Dublin' EU regulations for asylum seekers holding that migrants "can apply for asylum only in the first EU member state they enter" (The 'Dublin' regulation actually holds that the migrant should apply for asylum in the first EU country where he was formally registered.) Germany ordered its officers to also process asylum applications from Syrians if they had come through other EU countries. In the night of 4 September 2015, Merkel decided that Germany would admit the thousands of refugees who were stranded in Hungary, in sweltering conditions, and whom the Hungarian prime minister Orban had sent to the Austrian border. With that decision, she reportedly aimed to prevent disturbances at the German borders. The days following that 4 September, tens of thousands of refugees traveled from Hungary via Vienna into Germany.
Analyst Will Hutton for the British newspaper The Guardian on 30 August 2015 praised Merkel's decisions on migration policies: "Angela Merkel's humane stance on migration is a lesson to us all The German leader has stood up to be counted. Europe should rally to her side She wants to keep Germany and Europe open, to welcome legitimate asylum seekers in common humanity, while doing her very best to stop abuse and keep the movement to manageable proportions. Which demands a European-wide response ()".
The EU proposed to the Turkish government a plan in which Turkey would take back every refugee who entered Greece (and thereby the EU) illegally. In return, the EU would accept one person into the EU who is registered as a Syrian refugee in Turkey for every Syrian sent back from Greece. 12 EU countries have national lists of so-called safe countries of origin. The European Commission is proposing one, common EU list designating as 'safe' all EU candidate countries (Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey), plus potential EU candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The list would allow for faster returns to those countries, even though asylum applications from nationals of those countries would continue to be assessed on an individual, case-by-case basis. International Law generated during the Geneva Convention states that a country is considered "safe" when there is a democratic system in a country and generally there is: no persecution, no torture, no threat of violence, and no armed conflict.
In November, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoan reportedly threatened to send the millions of refugees in Turkey to EU member states if it was left to shoulder the burden alone. On 12 November 2015, at the end of the two-day summit in Malta, EU officials announced an agreement to offer Turkey 3 billion over two years to manage more than 2 million refugees from Syria who had sought refuge there, in return for curbing migration through Turkey into the EU. The 3 billion fund for Turkey was approved by the EU in February 2016.
In January 2016, the Netherlands proposed that the EU take in 250,000 refugees a year from Turkey in return for Turkey closing the Aegean sea route to Greece, but Turkey rejected the plan. Starting on 7 March 2016, the EU met with Turkey for another summit in Brussels to negotiate further solutions of the crisis. An original plan saw for the closing statement to declare the Western Balkan route closed. However, this was met with criticism from German chancellor Angela Merkel. Turkey countered the offer by demanding a further 3 billion in order to help them in supplying the 2.7 million refugees in Turkey. In addition, the Turkish government asked for their citizens to be allowed to travel freely into the Schengen area starting at the end of June 2016, as well as an increased speed in talks of a possible accession of Turkey to the European Union. The plan to send migrants back to Turkey was criticized on 8 March 2016 by the United Nations, which warned that it could be illegal to send the migrants back to Turkey in exchange of financial and political rewards.
On 20 March 2016, an agreement between the European Union and Turkey, aiming to discourage migrants from making the dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece, came into effect. Under its terms, migrants arriving in Greece would be sent back to Turkey if they did not apply for asylum or their claim was rejected, whilst the EU would send around 2,300 experts, including security and migration officials and translators, to Greece in order to help implement the deal.
It was also agreed that any irregular migrants who crossed into Greece from Turkey after 20 March 2016 would be sent back to Turkey, based on an individual case-by-case evaluation. Any Syrian returned to Turkey would be replaced by a Syrian resettled from Turkey to the EU, preferably the individuals who did not try to enter the EU illegally in the past and not exceeding a maximum of 72,000 people. Turkish nationals would have access to the Schengen passport-free zone by June 2016 but this would not include non-Schengen countries such as the UK. The talks aiming at Turkey's accession to the EU as a member began in July 2016, and $3.3 billion in aid was to be delivered to Turkey. The talks were suspended in November 2016, following the 2016 Turkish coup d'tat attempt. A similar threat was raised as the European Parliament voted to suspend EU membership talks with Turkey in November 2016: "if you go any further," Erdoan declared, "these border gates will be opened. Neither me nor my people will be affected by these dry threats."
Migrants from Greece to Turkey were to be given medical checks, registered and fingerprinted, then bused to "reception and removal" centres. and later deported to their home countries. The UNHCR's director Vincent Cochetel claimed in August 2016 that parts of the deal were already de facto suspended because of the post-coup absence of Turkish police at the Greek detention centres to oversee deportations.
The UNHCR said it was not a party to the EU-Turkey deal and it would not be involved in returns or detention. Like the UNHCR, four aid agencies (Mdecins Sans Frontires, the International Rescue Committee, the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children) said they would not help implementing the EU-Turkey deal because blanket expulsion of refugees contravened international law.
Amnesty International said that the agreement between EU and Turkey was "madness", and that 18 March 2016 was "a dark day for Refugee Convention, Europe and humanity". Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey and EU had the same challenges, the same future and the same destiny. Donald Tusk said that the migrants in Greece would not be sent back to dangerous areas.
On 17 March 2017, Turkish interior minister Sleyman Soylu threatened to send 15,000 refugees to the European Union every month, while Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also threatened to cancel the deal.
On 9 October 2019, the Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria began. Within the first week and a half 130,000 people were displaced. On 10 October it was reported that President Erdoan had threatened to send "millions" of Syrian refugees to Europe in response to criticism of his military offensive into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria.  On 27 February 2020, a senior Turkish official said Turkish police, coast guard and border security officials had received orders to no longer stop refugees land and sea crossings to Europe.
European Union members legally obliged to join Schengen at a future date
Countries with open borders
In the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985, 26 European countries (22 of the 28 European Union member states, plus four European Free Trade Association states) joined together to form an area where border checks on internal Schengen borders (i.e. between member states) are abolished and instead checks are restricted to the external Schengen borders and countries with external borders are obligated to enforce border control regulations. Countries may reinstate internal border controls for a maximum of two months for "public policy or national security" reasons.
The Dublin regulation determines the EU member state responsible to examine an asylum application to prevent asylum applicants in the EU from "asylum shopping", where applicants send their applications for asylum to numerous EU member states to get the best "deal" instead of just having "safety countries", or "asylum orbiting", where no member state takes responsibility for an asylum seeker. By default (when no family reasons or humanitarian grounds are present), the first member state that an asylum seeker entered and in which they have been fingerprinted is responsible. If the asylum seeker then moves to another member state, they can be transferred back to the member state they first entered. This has led many to criticise the Dublin rules for placing too much responsibility for asylum seekers on member states on the EU's external borders (like Italy, Greece, Croatia and Hungary), instead of devising a burden-sharing system among EU states.
In June 2016, the Commission to the European Parliament and Council addressed "inherent weaknesses" in the Common European Asylum System and proposed reforms for the Dublin Regulation. Under the initial Dublin Regulation, responsibility was concentrated on border states that received a large influx of asylum seekers. A briefing by the European Parliament explained that the Dublin Agreement was only designed to assign responsibility, not effectively share responsibility. The reforms would attempt to create a burden-sharing system through several mechanisms. The proposal would introduce a "centralized automated system" to record the number of asylum applications across the EU, with "national interfaces" within each of the Member States. It would also present a "reference key" based on a Member State's GDP and population size to determine its absorption capacity. When absorption capacity in a Member State exceeds 150 percent of its reference share, a "fairness mechanism" would distribute the excess number of asylum seekers across less congested Member States. If a Member State chooses not to accept the asylum seekers, it would contribute 250,000 per application as a "solidarity contribution". The reforms have been discussed in European Parliament since its proposal in 2016, and was included in a meeting on "The Third Reform of the Common European Asylum System Up for the Challenge" in 2017.
Under the Dublin Regulation, an asylum seeker has to apply for asylum in the first EU country they entered, and, if they cross borders to another country after being fingerprinted, they can be returned to the former. As most asylum seekers try to reach Germany or Sweden through the other EU countries in order to apply for asylum there, and as 22 EU countries form the borderless Schengen area where internal border controls are abolished, enforcement of the Dublin Regulation became increasingly difficult during late summer 2015, with some countries allowing asylum seekers to transit through their territories and other countries renouncing the right to return them back or reinstating border controls within the Schengen Area to prevent them from entering. In July 2017, the European Court of Justice upheld the Dublin Regulation, despite the high influx of 2015, giving EU member states the right to deport migrants to the first country of entry to the EU.
Countries responded in different ways:
The table "Expenditure on refugees (caseload) 20152016 (2016 summary)" summarizes the 1.7 million asylum applicants in 2015 will cost 18 billion in maintenance costs in 2016. The total 2015 and 2016 asylum caseload will cost 27.3 billion (27.296 in Mil.) in 2016. In the "Expenditure on refugees (caseload) 20152016 (2016 summary)," Sweden will bear the heaviest cost. 
The escalation in April 2015 of shipwrecks of migrant boats in the Mediterranean led European Union leaders to reconsider their policies on border control and processing of migrants. On 20 April the European Commission proposed a 10-point plan that included the European Asylum Support Office deploying teams in Italy and Greece for joint processing of asylum applications. Also in April 2015 German chancellor Angela Merkel proposed a new system of quotas to distribute non-EU asylum seekers around the EU member states.
In September 2015, as thousands of migrants started to move from Budapest to Vienna, Germany, Italy and France demanded asylum-seekers be shared more evenly between EU states. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed to distribute 160,000 asylum seekers among EU states under a new migrant quota system to be set out. Jean Asselborn, the Luxembourg foreign minister, called for the establishment of a European Refugee Agency, which would have the power to investigate whether every EU member state is applying the same standards for granting asylum to migrants. Viktor Orbn, the prime minister of Hungary, criticised the European Commission warning that "tens of millions" of migrants could come to Europe. Asselborn declared to be "ashamed" of Orbn. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that EU members reluctant to accept compulsory migrant quotas may have to be outvoted: "if there is no other way, then we should seriously consider to use the instrument of a qualified majority".
Leaders of the Visegrd Group (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) declared in a September meeting in Prague that they will not accept any compulsory long-term quota on redistribution of immigrants. Czech Government's Secretary for European Affairs Tom Prouza commented that "if two or three thousand people who do not want to be here are forced into the Czech Republic, it is fair to assume that they will leave anyway. The quotas are unfair to the refugees, we can't just move them here and there like a cattle." According to the Czech interior minister Milan Chovanec, from 2 September 2015, Czech Republic was offering asylum to every Syrian caught by the police notwithstanding the Dublin Regulation: out of about 1,300 apprehended until 9 September, only 60 decided to apply for asylum in the Czech Republic, with the rest of them continuing to Germany or elsewhere.
Czech President Milo Zeman said that Ukrainian refugees fleeing War in Donbass should be also included in migrant quotas. In November 2015, the Czech Republic started a program of medical evacuations of selected Syrian refugees from Jordan (400 in total). Under the program, severely sick children were selected for treatment in the best Czech medical facilities, with their families getting asylum, airlift and a paid flats in the Czech Republic after stating clear intent to stay in the country. However, from the initial 3 families that had been transported to Prague, one immediately fled to Germany. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka stated that this signals that quota system will not work either.
On 7 September 2015, France announced that it would accept 24,000 asylum-seekers over two years; Britain announced that it would take in up to 20,000 refugees, primarily vulnerable children and orphans from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey; and Germany pledged US$6.7 billion to deal with the migrant crisis. However, also on 7 September 2015, both Austria and Germany warned that they would not be able to keep up with the current pace of the influx and that it would need to slow down first.
On 22 September 2015, European Union interior ministers meeting in the Justice and Home Affairs Council approved a plan to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers over two years from the frontline states Italy, Greece and Hungary to all other EU countries (except Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom which have opt-outs). The relocation plan applies to asylum seekers "in clear need of international protection" (those with a recognition rate higher than 75 percent, i.e. Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis) 15,600 from Italy, 50,400 from Greece and 54,000 from Hungary who will be distributed among EU states on the basis of quotas taking into account the size of economy and population of each state, as well as the average number of asylum applications. The decision was taken by majority vote, with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voting against and Finland abstaining. Since Hungary voted against the relocation plan, its 54,000 asylum seekers would not be relocated for now, and could be relocated from Italy and Greece instead. Czech Interior Minister tweeted after the vote: "Common sense lost today." Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is threatening legal action over EU's mandatory migrant quotas at European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. On 9 October, the first 20 Eritrean asylum seekers were relocated by plane from Italy to Sweden, following the EU prerequisite fingerprinting in Italy as the first member country of asylum registration.
On 25 October 2015, the leaders of Greece and other states along Western Balkan routes to wealthier nations of Europe, including Germany, agreed to set up holding camps for 100,000 asylum seekers, a move which German Chancellor Merkel supported.
On 12 November it was reported that Frontex was maintaining combined asylum seeker and deportation hotspots in Lesbos, Greece since October.
On 15 December 2015, the EU proposed taking over the border and coastal security operations at major migrant entry pressure points, via its Frontex operation.
By September 2016 the quota system proposed by EU has been abandoned for the time being, after staunch resistance by Visegrd Group countries.
By 9 June 2017, 22,504 people have been resettled through the quota system, with over 2000 of them being resettled in May alone. All relevant countries participate in the relocation scheme with exception of Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, against whom the European commission has consequentially launched sanctions procedure only to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary.
Historically, migrants have often been portrayed as a "security threat," and there has been much focus on the narrative that terrorists maintain networks amongst transnational, refugee, and migrant populations. This fear has been exaggerated into a modern-day Islamist terrorism Trojan Horse in which terrorists hide among refugees and penetrate host countries. In the wake of November 2015 Paris attacks, Poland's European affairs minister-designate Konrad Szymaski stated that he sees no possibility of enacting the EU refugee relocation scheme, saying, "We'll accept [refugees only] if we have security guarantees."
The attacks prompted European officialsparticularly German officialsto re-evaluate their stance on EU policy toward migrants, especially in light of the ongoing European migrant crisis. Many German officials believed a higher level of scrutiny was needed, and criticised the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel defended her stance, and pointed out that a lot of migrants were fleeing terrorism.
In January 2016, 18 of 31 men suspected of violent assaults on women in Cologne on New Year's Eve were identified as asylum seekers, prompting calls by German officials to deport convicted criminals who may be seeking asylum; these sexual attacks brought about a fresh wave of anti-immigrant protests across Europe. Merkel used Wir schaffen das during the violence and crime by the immigrants in Germany, including the 2016 Munich shooting, the 2016 Ansbach bombing, and the Wrzburg train attack.
In 2016, according to the Italian daily newspaper La Stampa, officials from Europol conducted an investigation into the trafficking of fake documents for ISIL. They identified fake Syrian passports in the refugee camps in Greece that were destined to supposed members of ISIL, in order to avoid Greek government controls and make their way to other parts of Europe. Also, the chief of Europol said that a new task force of 200 counter-terrorism officers would be deployed to the Greek islands alongside Greek border guards in order to help Greece stop a "strategic" level campaign by ISIL to infiltrate terrorists into Europe.
In October 2016 Danish immigration minister Inger Stjberg authorities reported 50 cases of suspected radicalised asylum seekers at asylum centres. The reports encompassed everything from adult Islamic State sympathisers celebrating terror attacks to violent children who dress up as IS fighters decapitating teddy bears. Stjberg expressed her consternation at asylum seekers ostensibly fleeing war yet simultaneously supporting violence. Asylum centres having detected radicalisation routinely report their findings to police. The 50 incidents were reported between 17 November 2015 and 14 September 2016.
In February 2017, British newspaper The Guardian reported that ISIL was paying the smugglers fees of up to $2,000 USD to recruit people from refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon child migrants in a desperate attempt to radicalize children for the group. The reports by counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam indicate that an estimated 88,300 unaccompanied childrenwho are reported as missingwere at risk of radicalization by ISIL.
In December 2015, Hungary challenged EU plans to share asylum seekers across EU states at the European Court of Justice. The border has been closed since 15 September 2015, with razor wire fence along its southern borders, particularly Croatia, and by blocking train travel. The government believes that "illegal migrants" are job-seekers, threats to security and likely to "threaten our culture". There have been cases of immigrants and ethnic minorities being attacked. In addition, Hungary has conducted wholesale deportations of refugees, who are generally considered to be allied with ISIL. Refugees are outlawed and almost all are ejected.
There can be instances of exploitation at the hands of enforcement officials, citizens of the host country, instances of human rights violations, child labor, mental and physical trauma/torture, violence-related trauma, and sexual exploitation, especially of children, have been documented. 
On October, 2015 German refugee attack plot was foiled by German police which was a plot by neo-Nazis to attack a refugee center with explosives, knives, a baseball bat and a gun. Nazi magazines and memorabilia from the Third Reich, flags emblazoned with banned swastikas were found. According to prosecutor goal was "to establish fear and terror among asylum-seekers". The accused claimed to be either the members of Die Rechte, or anti-Islam group Pegida (Ngida). 
In November 2016, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor issued a report regarding the humanitarian situation of migrants into Greece. It hosts 16.209 migrants on its island and 33.650 migrants on the mainland, most of whom are women and children. Because of lack of water, medical care and security protection witnessed by the Euro- Med monitor team- especially with the arrival of winter, they are at risk of serious deterioration in health, mostly children and pregnant women. 1,500 refugees were, accordingly, moved into other places since their camps were deluged with snow, but relocation of the refugees always came too late after they lived without electricity and heating devices for too long. It also showed that there is a lack of access to legal services and security protection to the refugees and migrants in the camps; there is no trust between the resident and the protection offices, paving a path for some people to report crimes and illegal acts in the camps. In addition, the migrants are subject to regular xenophobic attacks, fascist violence, forced strip searches at the hands of residents and police and detention. The women living in the Athens settlements and the Vasilika, Softex and Diavata camps feel worried about their children as they may be subjected to sexual abuse, trafficking and drug use. As a result, some of the refugees and migrants commit suicide, burn property and protest. Finally, it clarified the difficulties the refugees face when entering into Greece; more than 16,000 people are trapped while waiting for deportation on the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, and the number of residents is double the capacity of the five islands.
In August 2017 dozens of Afghani asylum seekers made a demonstration in a square in Stockholm against their pending deportations. They were attacked by a group of 1516 men who threw fireworks at them. Three protesters were injured and one was taken to hospital. None were arrested.
According to the UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached 59,500,000 at the end of 2014, the highest level since World War II, with a 40 percent increase taking place since 2011. Of these 59.5million, 19.5million were refugees (14.4million under UNHCR's mandate, plus 5.1million Palestinian refugees under UNRWA's mandate), and 1.8million were asylum-seekers. The rest were persons displaced within their own countries (internally displaced persons). The 14.4million refugees under UNHCR's mandate were around 2.7million more than at the end of 2013 (a 23 percent increase), the highest level since 1995. Among them, Syrian refugees became the largest refugee group in 2014 (3.9million, 1.55million more than the previous year), overtaking Afghan refugees (2.6million), who had been the largest refugee group for three decades. Six of the ten largest countries of origin of refugees were African: Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Eritrea.
According to the UNHCR, the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide reached 65,600,000 at the end of 2016; the highest level since World War II. Of these 65,600,000, 22.5 million were refugees (17.2 million under UNHCR's mandate, plus 5.3 million Palestinian refugees under UNRWA's mandate). 2.8 million of the refugees were asylum seekers. The rest were persons displaced within their own countries (internally displaced persons). The 17.2 million refugees under UNHCR's mandate were around 2.9 million more than at the end of 2014, the highest level since 1992.
As of 2017, 55 percent of refugees worldwide came from three nations: South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. Of all displaced peoples, 17 percent of them are being hosted in Europe. As of April 2018, 15,481 refugees have successfully arrived to the shores of Europe via sea within the first few months of the year alone. There was an estimated 500 that have died in this year alone. In 2015, there was a total of 1.02 million arrivals by sea. Since then, the influx has steadily decreased but is ongoing nonetheless.
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