As news filtered out about the extent of sexual harassment on New Year's Eve in Cologne, Europe looked on with horror. It soon became apparent that many of the perpetrators were of Arab or North African origin and that many of them were refugees in Germany. This news, as well as the revelation of similar attacks in Stockholm, both of which had strong hints of a cover up by the police and the media, has reopened deep divisions in Europe about the refugee crisis. Those who had opposed opening Europe's doors to migrants saw in the attacks justification of their approach and were not shy of saying so.
In this situation, how will attempts to foster a European approach to the refugee crisis fare? Will the rifts between Europe's member states widen, perhaps fundamentally damaging Europe's cohesion?Protesters gather outside Cologne Cathedral with a sign reading "No to violence against women" - Wikicommons / Elke Wetzig - CC BY 4.0
After Cologne, reducing immigrant numbers and progress on intergration key for Merkel in 2016.
Cologne attacks embolden UK's eurosceptic forces ahead of British EU referendum
Nascent resentment is building in Italy over the lack of burden sharing
Growing discontent is closing the window of opportunity for concessions on refugees.
In parallel to Cologne, Sweden's own sexual harassment scandal threatens to benefit the Sweden Democrats
Events in Cologne have prompted a speedy reaction from Poland's embattled Law and Justice government