IA REX / News
2015.09.18 19:00

The European Union lacks strategic vision to confront illegal migration

Эта статья доступна на русском языке. / This article is available in Russian.

The EU governments are preparing for a series of meetings on the problems of refugees. There is a meeting of foreign Affair ministers hosted on the 11th of September in Luxembourg. Three days later a special meeting of home affairs ministers will be held. An extraordinary summit of EU leaders is also not ruled out. While the European Commission is drafting a proposal to resolve the crisis, Germany, France and Italy have already presented their own theses. A five-page document, submitted to the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, contains three essential points: 1) financial assistance from the EBRD and the European Trust Fund on Syria for states hosting refugees, like Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt; 2) improvement of public institutions and the creation of a "safe environment in (post-) conflict regions" (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya); 3) "fair distribution of refugees in Europe," i.e., the introduction of a quota system. It may sound strange, but the most feasible point is the first paragraph. Many governments prefer to pay off the money, than to accept and take care of migrants in their own country, where living standards are much higher. For example, the UK generously pay for the solution of the problem "on the spot". To improve the living conditions of the Syrians in Lebanon and Jordan, Britain gave about £ 900 million, becoming the second biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid.

Much more controversial is the so-called "fair distribution." The countries of Eastern Europe as well as Spain, Greece, Denmark and the UK are not ready for such innovations. Madrid and Athens refer to high unemployment (20%) and the economic crisis, Budapest and Copenhagen want to protect Christian identity. London has expressed that it had already done so much, taking more than 5,000 Syrians and financing Syria's neighbours. Berlin, Rome and Paris appeal to European solidarity. "If you do not agree with the figure of 40,000 (asylum seekers) you do not deserve to call yourself Europeans", — Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi claims. Germany leads by example to its partners. Recently it cancelled the Dublin-II regulation for Syrian citizens. Before the Syrians could seek asylum only in those countries where they first crossed the Schengen borders. In 2015 Germany is accepting to nearly a million refugees what requires according German officials up to 10 millions euros. By the number of immigrants in relation to the indigenous population, Sweden is the leading member state. The EU is still far from Middle Eastern countries. Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon each have accepted about 2 million Syrian and Iraqi. For two Levant countries it is about a third of their population. The EU had a "ridiculously small proportion" of the measures to tackle the global refugee crisis, Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu wrote in an article for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung". Until recently Ankara single-handedly funded the stay of Syrian refugees, having spent a round amount of $6 billion.

Quotas and support to "neighbours" are of short- and medium-term issues. In the long term the scenario along the borders of the Union is crucial. In the language of Javier Solana, Europe needs to create first of all the ring of not "prosperous", but "friendly" and "non-combatants" states. The refugees chase mostly not riches, rather pull through bombings and terrorists in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq. Until the the Middle East conflicts smoulder, migration will not stop. Some western experts acknowledge the capacity of the European Union to overcome regional tensions to be limited.

Among those who drew attention to a geopolitical context is the American-Polish historian Anne Applebaum. "Here is what no one wants to say: This is, in essence, a security crisis. For years now, Europeans have chosen to pretend that wars taking place in Syria and Libya were somebody else’s problem", claims Applebaum. She finds the cause of the crisis in the absence of a common European foreign policy and the army. The journalist is outraged that EU leaders do not want neither American leadership, nor they offer a European one. Her opinion is echoed by Judy Dempsey, a nonresident senior associate at Carnegie Europe: "European governments do not think or act strategically. They shy away from ambition because it means defining and taking risks and providing the means to see those risks through. As long as this perception continues, Europe will slip further into decline—unless EU leaders embrace real, strategic foreign policy ambition for the continent."

Is the European Union able to provide security in the countries where refugees arrive from? In Libya, one of the main transit points of migration, By the example of Libya, one of the main transit points of migration, the EU’s disability to provide the conflict-management is visible to the naked eye. Competing in 2011 with the United States in the number of air strikes on Gaddafi's army, now Brussels is powerless to stop a civil war between Tobruk and Tripoli. Is it needed to talk about Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, where Europeans should expect a stiff resistance of Taliban, ISIS and Al-Qaeda?

Kamran Gasanov

comments powered by Disqus