By: India Abbott, 18 year old student currently at school in Brussels. Follow me @india_valentina
The European Union is facing its worst migrant crisis since the end of the Second World War. Troubles in Africa, war in Syria and Iraq and chaos in Libya have stimulated an exodus of refugees, who are trying to escape violence, persecution and poverty. But this vast movement of people has created multiple problems: “stretching economic resources, radicalizing politics and straining the post-war institutions created to keep the continent at peace and whole”. Is the European Union’s migration policy defunct, or is it more a question of changing humanitarian and public opinion?
The European Union’s migration policy is based on the Dublin II regulation (reformed in June 2013), which seeks to determine the member state responsible for an asylum seeker who enters the EU (generally this is the first country the asylum seeker enters) and on the Schengen agreement (1995), which promotes the free movement of European citizens. Today, these rulings are considered outdated: “the rules, known as the Dublin regulation and dating from the 1990s, are widely viewed as dysfunctional and were abandoned…” and Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s prime minister, says that “the European Union’s immigration policy is a failure and was the greatest mistake made”. The Dublin II regulation particularly weighs on the EU’s southern states as migrants primarily enter the EU by the Mediterranean. The EU has therefore been pushed to spend money on the redistribution of people, rehabilitation programs and emergency funding for “front line” member states such as Italy and Greece. To avoid this heavy spending, the migration policy must be rethought.
To prevent the migration of refugees, many member states have modified their open-border policy and are exercising a closed-border policy instead (for example, Hungary has built an insurmountable wall), and the Union has been advised to augment the amount of security around its already closed external borders: “the governments must equally find the courage to get security, even military, measures, to effectively close the outside borders of the Union”. Many governments are opposed to a common policy between member states: the Hungarian government has said “migration policies… should be handled at the state level” as it is the citizens that “need to give their consent to receiving migrants”. This satisfies the European populations that “fear that local norms, customs and values could be overwhelmed by an influx of migrants” and who think that “social and political stability in Europe won’t survive the flood of millions of additional migrants coming from Africa and the Near East”. It is also noted that “opinion polls show very little support for accepting migrants across the region”. The European population has a negative perception of asylum seekers and other migrants due to terrorist attacks: “the war in Syria… henceforth exports migrants and terrorism in Europe” and incidents such as that of Cologne, and due to the media which claims that migrants will profit from social aid (for example the benefits system in England and Sweden), which is pushing the EU to rethink its border policy.
However, the influx won’t end: “restrictive policies don’t dissuade the migrants to try and get to our continent. The only force them to choose more dangerous journeys”. In fact, the number of migrants from 2014 to 2015 has increased by 164%. The EU is therefore forced to spend more money on agencies that protect external borders, such as Frontex’s Triton and Poseidon, whose funding has been tripled, in order to keep an eye on and save people who try to cross the Mediterranean. It is also forced to spend more money on investigating criminal networks.
Meanwhile, the complete closing of borders would be the beginning of the end for Schengen and the Union: “Decisive unilateral actions to secure national borders… an end to the common European area” which would be bad for the European economy but also completely immoral because we would have the deaths of thousands of people on our conscience. But, for some governments, it’s the best solution… You see, governments would rather not help migrants as much as they can; for example, fifteen member states have pledged 1,081 places for the rehabilitation of 66,400 stuck in Greece – only 218 places have been assigned.
In my opinion, the EU has to be less flexible with its quotas and the sovereignty of its member states regarding borders, as too much flexibility has resulted in more difficulties and more tensions. Dmitry Medvedev says “the EU is incapable of stopping the “snowball effect” of migration because it does not have a coordinated position among the member states”. Primarily, however, I don’t think it’s the migratory policy that’s the problem, but more the European people and their empathy. For example, the page “Humans of New York” interviewed many refugees and its audience therefore became more aware of the horrific situations refugees find themselves in. An alarming generosity followed, many people giving donations and money to help the refugees. Showing the reality of life in Syria via witness accounts, and talking about the positive aspects of migration (an able work force, a young demographic, cultural diversity and qualified migrants that can help the economy and ameliorate the standard of living of European populations) can drive a much more empathetic reaction than that of biased reports that only show negative aspects of migration. Historically, Europe has been a continent where populations have migrated from one country to another to avoid war, conflict, poverty, etc. Our politicians should remember this from time to time.
The EU Should Rethink it's Migration Policy, and Open the Borders Reviewed by Admin on 13:48 Rating: