Germany's Schaeuble Says Crucial to Act on EU Refugee Crisis Now

  • Finance minister says that billions more euros are needed
  • Dutch PM Rutte says have to manage problem in next 6-8 weeks

Solving Europe’s migration crisis will cost much more than initially envisaged, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.

Nations will need to invest “billions” of euros to relieve the pressure brought about by the region’s biggest refugee influx since World War II, Schaeuble told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday. “It will cost us Europeans a lot more than we thought,” he said.

With European Union countries reintroducing border controls, chaos at Europe’s external frontiers and the threat of terrorism associated with the civil war in Syria looming over the continent’s largest cities, the crisis has fractured European politics and raised tensions from Athens to Stockholm. The EU is still trying to find the 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of aid it pledged to Turkey to help refugees.

With last year’s rush of migrants from the Middle East and Africa raising doubts about the viability of Europe’s passport-free travel area known as the Schengen zone, the EU has just two months to come up with solutions before the influx of refugees increases with the next spell of warmer weather, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on the same panel.

“I do believe we can save Schengen as long as we get a grip in the next six to eight weeks,” Rutte said. “First we have to fight the immediate crisis of these huge numbers of refugees flowing into western Europe.”

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, whose country experienced the worst terrorist attacks in Europe last year, said the region could break apart in a very short time if governments did not take action.

France and its allies must give themselves “all the necessary means to fight terrorism,” Valls said. “We need to pool our resources.”

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