"Commission must provide more resources to help Western Balkan countries deal with refugee crisis" says S&D Vice President

S&Ds call for urgent joint EU action to stop deaths in the Mediterranean

Knut Fleckenstein, Vice President of the Socialist and Democrat Group in the European Parliament, has called on the European Commission to make more resources available to Western Balkan governments to help deal with the refugee crisis in a coordinated and humane way.

Speaking ahead of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Vienna, Mr Fleckenstein said:
"The countries of the Western Balkans are suffering from the failure of the EU's asylum policies. The Dublin agreement is pushing tens of thousands of refugees to transit across these countries to search for a better life inside the EU. The countries in the region are being pushed to breaking point in face of this huge influx of people. The European Commission urgently needs to make funding available to Western Balkan governments to help them deal with these refugees in a fair and humane way. Alongside this, EU governments must stop bickering and come up with a comprehensive overhaul of the current asylum policy - to create one that treats refugees as humans not as an inconvenience."
"However, we must not allow the refugee crisis to overshadow the importance of today's summit. Despite the difficulties that Europe is facing, enlargement has been one of the overwhelming successes of the European project. It has allowed countries to move on from war and dictatorship towards peace and democracy. We must continue to work closely with all governments in the region to improve democratic accountability, build common infrastructure and help them on their way to eventual EU membership. Only when this is complete can we really call ourselves a united Europe."