Slovenia Opposed to Binding Refugee Quotas in EU


"Solidarity needs to be voluntary and has to consider the capabilities of our country and specific limitations," said the Slovenian minister as the ministers opened a debate on the European Commission's proposal for burden sharing in the refugee crisis.

Györkös Žnidar said an important factor which must be considered is the ability of the countries to manage the security implications of accepting refugees.

Recent debates on accepting refugees in Slovenia have raised the possibility of radicals trying to hide among the refugees headed for the EU.

While welcoming the strategy on migrations, EU home ministers split into two camps on the issue of burden sharing quotas. Germany and France lead the group of countries favouring binding quotas.

Slovenia has meanwhile allied with a group of ten central and eastern European countries calling for voluntary quotas, Györkös Žnidar said.

The capacity of each country for taking refugees depends on a wide array of factors which each country can best determine on its own, she argued.

"This is why it is crucial that Slovenia be allowed to decide on its own if and how many refugees it intends to take in…since this is also important for mitigating security risk."

The Slovenian minister said the European Commission's proposal lacks an assessment of the potential security impact of taking in refugees for member states. She maintained that the possibility of radicals trying to mix in with migrants headed for the EU was real.

Highlighting that the Slovenian police is already grappling with a difficult financial situation and has been stretched to its maximum, the minister said Slovenia would have to bolster its security services in the event it accepted a larger number of refugees.

Györkös Žnidar also said the formula applied for burden sharing was lacking, failing to consider such factors as size of urban centres, existing capabilities for handling refugees and historical migration flows.

"Solidarity and responsibility are inherently connected. This means that in accepting [refugees] countries need to act responsibility both to the citizens and to the EU as a whole.

"If we are forced to more refugees than we can realistically handle, this will have negative effects both for our country and the rest of the EU. Also in such an event Slovenia will be unable to provide refugees with the required standards of treatment and protection…and the inevitable effect will be secondary migration," she said.

The European Commission has proposed that Slovenia takes in 495 refugees from the quota of Syrian and Eritrean refugees currently being held in detention centres in Italy and Greece and another 207 persons who have sought asylum and are currently outside of the EU.

As part of the scheme, member states will receive EUR 6,000 per refugee from the EU's Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, with the two-year scheme aimed at helping Italy and Greece assigned EUR 240m from the EU budget.

The Commission is pushing for both schemes to be made mandatory for member states, with member states expected to vote on assistance for Greece and Italy with a qualified majority. The decision on the scheme for accepting refugees outside of the EU will have to be endorsed unanimously.