Seeking a Fair Distribution of Refugees in Europe

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By GREGOR AISCH and SARAH ALMUKHTAR
German and European Union leaders have called for European countries to share the burden of absorbing the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have poured into the continent this summer. One plan, which was proposed in May, would have established quotas based on each country’s size and resources. The quotas were rejected in June, but they may be a starting point for any comprehensive solution.

Based on the proportions outlined in the May proposal,
here are countries that have already accepted …

More than the quota

Sweden

Denmark

Netherlands

Germany

Belgium

Italy

Bulgaria

Cyprus

Malta

Fewer than the quota

Finland

Estonia

Latvia

Lithuania

Ireland

Poland

Britain

Czech Rep.

Slovakia

France

Hungary

Romania

Slovenia

Croatia

Portugal

Spain

Greece

Source: New York Times analysis. Note: Austria has not disclosed how many people it has granted asylum.

The scope of the May proposal was limited: Distribute 20,000 newly arrived refugees over two years. It was supposed to be a first step in addressing the crisis.

The plan assigned each country a share of refugees based on its economic strength, population, unemployment and asylum applications approved over the last five years. Several member countries, however, opposed the quota system and have approved relatively few asylum applications. A version of the plan without a comprehensive quota system was adopted in July but was widely criticized as insufficient to contain the migration crisis.

Quotas are likely to be part of the European Union’s approach to the issue in the coming weeks. On Thursday, the president of the European Council called for the fair distribution of at least 100,000 refugees.

These charts use the proportions from the May plan to assess which countries have been taking on a higher share of the refugee burden than the proposal would require, and which have not.

If the quotas proposed in May went into effect now:

Nine countries would

meet the quota

18 countries would have

to accept more applicants

Target proposed in May

Slovakia

France

Germany

Croatia

Britain

Italy

Share of people granted asylum in Europe, January 2014 to March 2015

Hungary

Spain

Netherlands

Finland

Poland

Sweden

Ireland

Portugal

Belgium

Latvia

Romania

Denmark

Slovenia

Czech Republic

Bulgaria

Lithuania

Estonia

Malta

Luxembourg

Greece

Cyprus

10%

20%

10%

Sources: Eurostat; European Commission. Note: Austria has not disclosed how many people it has granted asylum.

A country’s population and its gross domestic product account for 80 percent of the formula used to calculate the proposed quotas. The European Commission said that larger populations and economies “are generally considered more able to shoulder greater migration pressures.”

The chart below shows that, of the larger countries with stronger economies, Germany and Sweden have accepted many more asylum seekers than the proposal would require, while France and Britain are behind. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta stand out as accepting more applicants than the proposal would require despite being smaller and poorer countries.

Population vs. wealth

Accepted proportionally more refugees than proposed

Fewer than proposed

Germany

100,000,000

population

France

Poland

Britain

Spain

Italy

Netherlands

Romania

Belgium

Greece

Portugal

Czech Republic

Bulgaria

10,000,000

Hungary

Sweden

Finland

Slovakia

Croatia

Denmark

Ireland

Lithuania

Slovenia

Latvia

Estonia

Cyprus

20%

Circle size shows share of all people people granted asylum in Europe from January 2014 to March 2015

1,000,000

10%

5%

Malta

$20,000

$30,000

$40,000

$50,000

Poorer economies

Richer economies

Gross domestic product per capita

Sources: International Monetary Fund; Eurostat; European Commission. Note: Austria and Luxembourg are not shown.