Timmermans: Most seek asylum for economic, not humanitarian reasons

More than half of the asylum seekers entering Europe do so for economic reasons, and not because they are fleeing from war, European Commissioner Frans Timmermans said in an interview with broadcaster NOS on Monday.

"It's about 60 percent of all asylum seekers", Timmermans said, based on the latest figures from European border security agency Frontex. "These are people that you can assume have no reason to apply for refugee status." According to him, these are people from countries like Morocco and Tunisia. He added that these economic asylum seekers must be sent away quickly, in order to maintain support for asylum reception.

European Council President Donald Tusk fears that if the refugee crisis in Europe is not solved within two months, the free movement of persons and goods within Europe may have to be terminated. Timmermans agrees that this may be necessary, though he worries about the economic implications.

"If we go down the path of internal border controls, we are taking a huge risk. The economic consequences are enormous, without knowing whether it delivers what you want; namely that fewer asylum seekers enter.", he said to the broadcaster. "It can cause hours, and sometimes days of delays at the European borders. That will cause a lot of damage for the transport sector."