After last April’s boat sinking between Malta and Lampedusa, where at least 950 people died, I was asking in a post if that event would wake up the European public and politics to act. I left some hope back then, that the “fast reaction of the EU” will bring some concrete actions. But I was wrong. As always the highly ambitious plans were followed by a cold shower, as the EU States didn’t respect the decisions taken by them just a couple of days before. unfortunately, the number of tragedies didn’t drop. Rather the contrary.
THE DRAMA FROM THE PERIPHERY IS BECOMING A DRAMA IN THE CENTRE …
If in the past months the central stage of the migrant crisis was Lampedusa, the summer brought to the spotlight also other places. Newspapers’ front pages and main news segments were full of images from migrants trying to reach the UK through the Channel Tunnel from Calais. During the last weeks the cameras moved again to the periphery of the EU (but not of Europe) – Hungary, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece.
Up to now, the attitude of the EU countries was very egoistic. They didn’t want to hear anything about solidarity. During the Calais crisis UK mostly only watched and criticized the (non)action of France. On the other hand, the countries from the “European North” never wanted to hear the calls for help from Italy and Greece when they were facing the landings on their coasts.
… WHILE THERE IS NO SOLUTION ON THE HORIZON
Despite the location the problem remains the same. However, the EU and its member states (the distinction is important as countries have the main responsibility in granting asylum) don’t act. The ministers for home affairs will meet only on 14th September, when they are expected to present the next steps for action. If we look at what has been done until now, we can’t expect a lot from this meeting.
However, if EU countries want to resolve the situation, they will need to act together. No country alone can cope with the situation. Moreover, when preparing the solution we have to bear in mind that even if we completely block our borders (which is practically impossible), these people will still continue to come. And they will do this because they will be driven by their basic instinct for survival. The vast majority of them is fleeing from their countries because they feel threatened. They don’t want to steal our jobs, rob our social security systems, change our cultural traditions and imposing their way of life. They just want to survive and assure to their children a peaceful life.
Because of this rhetoric the countries will need to face another problem – the growing phenomenon of intolerance and hate speech. We are used to the fact that the extreme right is using this kind of populism. The bigger problem is that this kind of rhetoric is used also by the political parties that are calling themselves “moderate”, “advanced” and “defenders of freedom and human rights”.
WHEN WILL IT BE ENOUGH?
The current refugee crisis can’t deal with the crisis alone. The only way for Europe to save its dignity (the piece it still has), is to adopt a new and truly common asylum policy, that will clearly and equally split the “burden” among all EU States without any exception, also among those countries that are not part of the Schengen area and are also responsible for the refugee’s home countries. The policy has also to address the refugee integration into our society.
However, Europe alone can’t solve the crisis. Especially not the causes for it. Because of that EU countries should use its diplomatic channels and through the UN to end the wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and anywhere else and convince other countries (specially those in the Middle East) to cope with the crisis. Only in this way the refugees will maintain the hope to return to their homes once in the future and to live a peaceful life in their own home countries.