EC president Jean-Claude Juncker warns of serious economic consequence over migration crisis

16 January 2016

The failure of EU member states to deliver solutions to the migration crisis would have ''enormous economic consequences'' for the bloc, EC president Jean-Claude Juncker has warned, as Austria joined other countries that had imposed border controls.

Austria's new restrictions, were unveiled 10 days after Sweden and Denmark added to the migration squeeze in Germany, where allies of chancellor Angela Merkel had demanded a migration ''Plan B''.

As hundreds of migrants and refugees continued to arrive in Greece yesterday, Juncker warned of a domino effect of border closures across Europe risking the EU's passport-free Schengen zone, the euro currency area and the European economy.

''Schengen is one of the biggest achievements of the European integration process . . . whoever kills Schengen carries the internal market to its grave,'' said Juncker in Brussels.

''The damage for the European growth perspectives will be enormous . . . the euro [will] make no sense.''

The grave assessment was shared by Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble who warned that Schengen was ''close to failing''.

Austria earlier announced plans to cap the number of asylum applications it would accept year.

Declining to specify an upper limit, interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said ''everyone knows it's not possible'' for Austria to accept another 120,000 as in 2015.

Juncker, yesterday also blamed ''arrogant'' refugees for the failure of his policy to rehouse tens of thousands of migrants across the continent.

Juncker turned on national governments and migrants themselves for the failure of an EU policy that was aimed at relieving the burden of the migrant crisis by spreading 160,000 people around the bloc in a series of airlifts.

It had moved 272 people, including four to Lithuania and six to Belgium, but only 17 of the 28 EU states had volunteered to take them.

Diplomats had pointed out that the scheme could not work due to the migrants' insistence on being settled only in Germany as they had no wish to be sent to the poorer east.

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