Mr Dewael served as the Belgian Home Minister from 2003 to 2008 when the number of asylum requests was far higher than at present. In an interview with the daily De Standaard he argues that the crisis can only be solved by integrating and activating refugees.
"It's a tale of rights and duties both for the people of Belgium and those coming here. We should introduce programmes that ensure that these people can also make a contribution."
The former Home Minister believes that migrants too would welcome this: "Often they are most eager to make a contribution to the society that is taking care of them."
Mr Dewael believes that doing work in the community could be linked to the payment of minimum subsistence benefit.
"Our conscience should not be assuaged by providing benefit without worrying about integration and the threats posed to social cohesion."
Mr Dewael backs the ideas of Dutchman Frans Timmermans, the Deputy President of the European Commission: the refugee crisis must be dealt with at the European level. Returning to a national asylum policy would be a step in the wrong direction.
Mr Dewael favours greater checks on the EU's external borders, but adds: "We must provide staff and possibly also extra financial support to help Greece, Italy and Hungary."