According to the EU Bishops' Commission COMECE, the current refugee crisis reveals design flaws of the European Union. He said the EU had been strongly characterized in recent decades by economic integration only.
In the process, genuine political integration had come up short. This means that the solution to the refugee problem now depends "on the good will and the willingness of the member states to accept refugees," COMECE Deputy Secretary General Michael Kuhn told Vatican Radio on Tuesday.
Turkey does not know how to deal with refugees, she said
In principle, it is clear to all that Turkey has a "key role" in solving the refugee ie because of its geographic location – especially since the "hotspots" for reception and registration recently established on Greek islands are being avoided by refugees, Kuhn said. However, Turkey itself does not know how to deal with the refugees because most of them want to go on to Western Europe anyway.
Different approaches among bishops
The "different ideas" within Europe about how to deal with refugees can also be found among Catholic bishops, Kuhn said. As much as church leaders agree on the principle of humane treatment, their views differ on how exactly that should be done, he said. Western Europe's bishops demanded above all "a dosage in reception," while those of Central, Southern and Eastern Europe rather demanded "a quick passage through their countries".
Bedford-Strohm urges right to individual asylum assessment
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, urges the right to individual asylum examination in the discussion about the preliminary plan of the EU and Turkey on refugee policy. The "weightiest question" is how this individual right to asylum can be ensured "if people are turned away on the Greek coast and simply returned to Turkey without being examined," Bedford-Strohm told the Evangelical Press Service on Tuesday. In addition, he pleaded for a quota solution in order to "effectively fight the traffickers" and save many lives.
In addition, the Bavarian bishop demanded that Turkey respect human rights. "This open question must be clarified if the EU is going to give Turkey such an important role in Europe's handling of those seeking protection," Bedford-Strohm said.
Legal channels as a positive sign
The EU and Turkey had agreed at their summit in Brussels Tuesday night to consider a new course on refugee policy. According to the preliminary plan, Turkey would in the future take back all migrants who reach Greece in an irregular way. In return, Syrian refugees should be allowed to come directly from Turkey to Europe.
The top EKD representative Bedford-Strohm sees an "encouraging signal" from the EU summit in the fact that those seeking protection should in future enter the EU by legal means. Nevertheless, the proposal is not concrete enough for him. The decisive factor for the churches is whether people on the run find a safe haven where they can live in dignity. "It is not enough to say that the EU takes as many refugees as are taken back from Greece by Turkey," Bedford-Strohm said. In addition, it must be clarified what will happen to the people who are currently stuck in Greece "under miserable conditions.