Kavitha Surana in Quartz Magazine (photo: Reuters/Laszlo Balogh):
Malin Björk, a Swedish member of the European Parliament (MEP), worries that Europe is not doing enough to solve its ongoing refugee crisis. “I think Sweden could take more,” she said. “Considering the seriousness of the situation around us, we’re not taking enough people.”
Last month, the United Nation’s refugee agency (UNHCR) reported that global refugee figures, driven by the war in Syria and other conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, exceed 50 million people—the highest number since the Second World War. Unsurprisingly, there’s been a corresponding spike in people trying to enter the EU to apply for asylum, often making dangerous trips across the Mediterranean to reach their destination.
After a boat full of migrants capsized, drowning at least 800 in April, the European Commission proposed measures to address the crisis. This included a binding refugee quota system, as well as plans to resettle 20,000 refugees from outside the EU and relocate 40,000 asylum-seekers from Greece and Italy—the main countries on the receiving end of the boats—to other European states over the next two years.
With all the talk of burden sharing and solidarity, it’s worth taking a look at the numbers. What do asylum policies actually look like across the EU, and what would a fairer system mean?