European migrant crisis: How states have responded

Migrants arrive in an overcrowded boat to the Greek island of Lesbos Credit: Reuters
  • Action taken by member states:


Passed a “jewellery bill” on Tuesday allowing cash and valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner (£1,000) to be taken from migrants and asylum seekers to pay for their stay, despite criticism from human rights groups.

Items of sentimental value, such as wedding rings, will be exempt.

The new law also extends the time migrants must wait until family members can join them in the country to up to three years.

Denmark additionally introduced checks on its southern border with Germany earlier this month in an attempt to reduce the number of migrants entering. A number of other EU states have taken similar measures.


Germany is rethinking its open-door policy, partly because of outrage over assaults reportedly carried out by migrants on women in Cologne at New Year.

Angela Merkel has proposed new draft laws to deny asylum for those convicted of crimes – even minor offences – or who are on probation ahead of a trial. She also wants to deport foreigners who have served a prison sentence in Germany.

The country introduced ‘temporary’ border controls with Austria several months ago, turning back scores of asylum seekers and migrants each day when it became concerned about being overwhelmed.

Some authorities have begun confiscating cash and valuables from arriving migrants.

A number of states have introduced 'temporary' border controls Credit: Reuters


Closed the borders with Croatia and Serbia, which were shut off with a razor wire fence ,and introduced tighter checks on crossings to Slovenia in October.

Migrants are only able to enter Hungary at official border crossings set up exclusively to process refugees.

President Viktor Orban has also been among the hardest voices pushing for stronger EU controls, suggesting Greece be closed off to the rest of Europe in an attempt to stop migrant arrivals.

Migrants living in tents in Calais have frequently clashed with police over conditions in the camp. Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol


As the number of migrants living in shanty towns around the Euro tunnel continued to grow, France announced plans for a huge new refugee camp in late 2015 – the first such new camp for 13 years.

It replaces the notorious old “Sangette” centre, closed down in 2002 following numerous claims of human rights abuses.

France also imposed tighter border controls following the latest terror attacks in Paris in November and wants the rest of Europe to start to collect passenger name records from those travelling within the region.


One of the main arrival points for migrants and refugees, Greece has been heavily-criticised by other European countries for not controlling its borders properly.

More than 850,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Greece last year.

Last month it agreed on a plan to deploy guards from the EU border agency Frontex on its northern border and formally asked for help to deal with huge numbers of migrants landing on the Greece islands.

It has also built a razor-wire fence across its border with Turkey in 2015.

Migrants huddle round a campfire in a camp in France Credit: Reuters
  • What people say:

Victor Orban, Hungarian Prime Minister

"I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country."

"We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see."

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor

“I am proud that we are giving a friendly welcome to refugees."

"Germany is willing to help. But it is not just a German challenge, but one for all of Europe...Europe must act together and take on responsibility. Germany can't shoulder this task alone."

Migrants arrive in an overcrowded boat to the Greek island of Lesbos Credit: Reuters

Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General

"I urge Europe to do more."

"The future does not belong to those who seek to build walls or exploit fears."

David Cameron, UK Prime Minister

"I and many others believe it is right for us to reduce the incentives for people who want to come here."

"Changes to welfare to cut EU migration will be an absolute requirement in my renegotiation."

Checkpoints, border patrols and fences are being put in place in different parts of Europe. Credit: Reuters/Bernardett Szabo

Pope Francis

“The present wave of migration seems to be undermining the foundations of that ‘humanistic spirit’ which Europe has always loved and defended.”

"Europe, aided by its great cultural and religious heritage, has the means to defend the centrality of the human person and to find the right balance between its two-fold moral responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens and to ensure assistance and acceptance to migrants."