Following the recent fires that destroyed the Moria camp in Greece, EU leaders have finally realized that they need to agree upon a long-term solution to the migration crisis that has engulfed Europe since 2014. Moria housed more than 12,500 migrants and refugees prior to its devastating fire on Sept. 9.
Merkel’s New Migration Policy Pitch
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been pushing for the bloc to introduce a mandatory system to manage migration, and it would require all 27 member states to participate in the scheme.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, referred to this plan as a “European solution to restore citizens’ confidence.”
The plan requires new compulsory pre-entry screening involving identity, security and health checks, and there will be a quicker asylum border process involving decisions within 12 weeks. There will also be quick returns for failed applicants.
Europe’s Population is in Decline
Nations that have refused to take in migrants are being provided with flexible options such as:
- taking in recent arrivals;
- ensuring that people who are refused asylum are sent back;
- providing immediate operational support.
It is understandable why the EU wants to take on more migrants despite the refugee crisis being a contributory factor toward the rise of radical parties in Europe and Brexit. As Ben Hall of the Center for European Reform suggests, Europe’s population is set to decline over the next 50 years. Italy will lose 28 percent of its population by 2050. In order to maintain its working age population, Italy would need to start importing more than 350,000 immigrants per year, or they would have to ensure that people are working until they reach the age of 75.
The Suggested System Will Have Many Problems
However, the compulsory system fails to do anything about the fact that all migrants will have to reside in Greece or Italy for some time. Their immediate arrival will strain those nations’ public services in the short-term, and there is no guarantee that these plans can prevent a repeat of the Moria camp fires.
This is despite the fact that the EU’s proposed plan is designed to ensure that each EU member state takes on their fair share of migrants.
The process of distributing migrants fairly could be time-consuming for the EU too. According to The Guardian, the European Commission is promising faster processes; it intends to implement a rule that all migrants should have health and security checks completed within five days.
The EU Does Not Have the Resources to Implement the System
Despite a promised pilot program in Greece, it is possible that the EU does not possess the resources to speed up slow procedures in Greece and Italy. This is because EU leaders slashed migration and border control spending by 27 percent when they struck a deal on the bloc’s seven-year budget, which will undermine their latest attempt to curb migration as they do not have the money for it.
Furthermore, a final deal is far from likely. The new system will be revised by the EU’s member states and by the European Parliament.
Also, no country is obliged to offer shelter to anyone, and it is certain that Poland and Hungary will continue to refuse to take in their fair share of migrants, even if the bloc can coerce them into helping in other ways. For example, Warsaw and Budapest may have to invest in reception centers for front-line states such as Greece.
The EU Needs More Than Internal Reform
The EU needs to go further than internal reform. German politician Jens Spahn told Politico that the bloc should support neighboring countries to prevent their citizens from migrating for economic reasons. It also needs to provide debt relief and fair trade to help its trading partners thrive in the future. But like with many of the EU’s decisions, they require agreement across the bloc, and that can never be guaranteed given its history.
The mandatory migration scheme may be based on good intentions, but a common refugee policy across 27 member states was always going to be problematic. Europe is a long way from witnessing an end to its migration crisis.