Europe is facing an unprecedented refugee crisis. Asylum-seekers fleeing countries such as Syria, Iraq and Eritrea are extremely likely to be recognised as refugees and may not be returned to their countries of origin.
This crisis has provoked responses amongst public opinion that include rejection and fear, with a widespread reluctance to receive additional refugees.
As the pressure increases on those countries receiving the greatest numbers of asylum applicants and refugees, this situation risks undermining European political solidarity and profoundly undermining efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of refugees.
Certain European states have, however, made particular efforts. Looking at overall populations of refugees and asylum seekers, there are 2,667 per 100,000 head of population in Turkey, 2,063 in Sweden, 548 in Germany, 528 in the Netherlands, 515 in Russia, 481 in France, 387 in Greece and 348 in Belgium. In other countries, however, far less is being done.
Those States that have received the largest numbers of refugees have accrued valuable experience in integrating these new arrivals. They may thus be able to show examples of best practice that can usefully be shared with others, thereby encouraging greater solidarity and more equitable burden-sharing.
The Parliamentary Assembly should study such situations with a view to making recommendations to member States on the integration of refugees, and to the Committee of Ministers on possible Council of Europe action to support this process.