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A refugee crisis that Europe cannot escape

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The last thing the European Union (EU) wanted to deal with was a tide of refugees. The Eurozone crisis, the struggle with Russia over Ukraine and the United Kingdom’s decision to hold its referendum on membership were challenges enough. Now comes a crisis that is as fraught as it is hard to manage. Yet, the EU cannot choose what it must deal with. It must deal with what is before it.The desperate human beings landing on European shores pose daunting moral, political and practical difficulties. But a way has to be found to manage them without sacrificing the values on which modern Europe was built.In deciding what to do, the EU must draw a distinction between refugees and immigrants. Countries have legal and moral obligations to refugees. They do not have such obligations to other immigrants. Compassion for the desperate has to be distinct from a cooler assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of immigration. It may be helpful to argue that refugees could provide economic benefits to the recipient country. In many cases, no doubt, resourceful people who so much want to enter will do just that. But that is not the reason why they should be accepted.

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