Schaeuble Urges More EU Aid to Help Curb Syria Refugee Flow

  • Says 3 billion euros in refugee aid for Turkey not enough
  • Calls for ‘coalition of the willing’ to provide more funds

The European Union and its members should increase their financial pledges for the region around war-torn Syria to help curb a refugee influx that exceeded 1 million people in Germany alone last year, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

EU leaders agreed in November to hand Turkey, one of Syria’s neighbors and a transit country for refugees on their way to the EU, 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in aid to help shelter refugees. European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said Wednesday “we cannot be satisfied if between 2,000 and 3,000 people arrive each day in Europe” because the agreement with Turkey isn’t working properly.

“We need more funds for the stabilization of the region beyond the 3 billion” pledged to Turkey, Schaeuble said. “Europe has to do more and Germany is ready for that,” in a “coalition of the willing” if need be, he said.

Faced with unprecedented refugee migration -- the number of refugees entering Europe in the first 10 days of 2016 is already three times the level in all of January 2015 -- governments in the 28-nation EU have reintroduced internal border checks as they failed to share refugees equitably among one another. Pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel has grown after a wave of sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve that may have involved asylum seekers.

“This is not a German problem, but a European one,” Schaeuble said as he arrived for two-day talks among EU finance ministers in the Belgian capital. “We’re defending Europe on this issue,” he said in defense of Merkel’s open-door refugee policy.

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