Why do thousands of migrants need to be drowned for Brussels to wake up?

The whole world anticipates now more actions that talks by Mr Avramopoulos on the imminent EU Immigration crisis. The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship is here in a press conference at the European Commission last month (EC Audiovisual Services, 04/03/2015)

The whole world anticipates now more actions than talks by Mr Avramopoulos on the imminent EU migration crisis. The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship is here in a press conference at the European Commission last month (EC Audiovisual Services, 04/03/2015)

The European Union is once more hit by migration. Last Sunday, around 800 illegal immigrants are believed to have died when their ship sank on the way from the Libyan coast to the Italian Island of Lampedusa.

As a result, the EU foreign and interior ministers gathered in Luxembourg earlier this week to discuss about the migration crisis that plagues Europe and provide possible solutions. The outcome of this meeting was an action plan of 10 proposals that would tackle the aforementioned crisis. The big question, certainly here, is why do thousands of people need to be sacrificed for Brussels to wake up?

The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi touched by the recent tragedy within Italy’s borders requested for an extraordinary summit to be held in order to draw the attention of all EU member states. And indeed, Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council (EC) answered positively and called the EU leaders to meet tomorrow Thursday in Brussels. Finally it is high time now for the EU to decide how to react on this issue that is certainly affecting the bloc as a whole; not solely countries such as Italy, Spain and Greece, as the European north would wish.

It is evident that the political will of the Northern countries to respond to this call has not been till now as decisive as it should be. Call it the awful unfriendly weather, or the manic focus on profitable productivity, the Northern Europeans more than often eat dinner on a small plate. In this plate EU issues that can be localised or are not directly included in a Profit and Loss statement, cannot and should not fit. But how on earth can you turn a blind eye on such a EU complex humanitarian issue like migration?

Mediterranean migration in figures

Migration was and still is a EU problem and to a second extent a Mediterranean one. The recent tragedy last weekend is claimed to be the deadliest incident that the EU has ever faced in its migration history according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Consequently, this year’s victims have immensely increased by the 800 deaths of the illegal immigrants reaching almost 1750 in only 4 months. This is allegedly 30 times higher than the same period of 2014 according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

These increasing migration numbers bluntly reveal that something is very wrong with the EU migration policy and the EU must act “yesterday”.

Time for action

Last sunday’s incident is not the first to happen in the Mediterranean but we only hope to be the one that will motivate the EU leaders enough to act now and minimise the lethal causes of this immense panEuropean crisis.

One of the reasons could be the sudden shutdown of Mare Nostrum which operated before over the Mediterranean in a 24-hour basis and especially in the Sicily Strait. Its successor, Triton, with much less funds and with a focus only on patrolling within 30 nautical miles of the Italian cost is obviously inadequate to face this bursting crisis and needs immediate reinforcement. The European Sting had already underlined this huge EU hole last November.

Let’s face it; it was partly the bad call of the EU to pull back Mare Nostrum that cost the lives of hundreds of people. Further, the recent agreement on the implementation of a 10-proposals action plan on migration clearly shows that the EU officials have understood their mistake since they propose to provide more funds to Triton in order to be able to patrol wider areas in the Mediterranean. Finally! But can’t Brussels be proactive with the migration policy like in many other matters where it is a world champion, like climate change?

Mediterranean to show the way

Italy alone surely cannot eliminate this huge European crisis. The rest EU member states have to stand by and help by all means in this effort for a better Europe and world. Particularly, countries such as Germany should be more aware and provide extra financial support. The reason is that by doing so, the by far largest European economy will be positively influenced by seeing its national migration numbers reduce dramatically. This crisis is affecting everyone; either directly or indirectly; either they want it or not.

A permanent solution

Sadly, the proposed actions of the EU in the migration crisis do not touch the core of the matter. The solution must be investigated in the real cause which is mainly the economic and political crisis that forces those people to migrate in the first place. Thus, a more direct aid to those countries (e.g. Syria) will be the cornerstone of a more permanent and solid solution.

If the EU invests on finding a way to reduce the consequences of that crisis, then those people would not need to flee. In practice something like this is of course very difficult and that is why migration keeps on hurting the Old Continent more and more. Besides, it has less political cost to invest on a EU environmental policy than a migration one, doesn’t it?

No excuses

Easier said than done? When hundreds of migrants pass from the Turkish shores to the Greek islands every day, in a EU member state that is economically ravaged and truly unable to host them and take all necessary steps, then political chitchats are redundant. When members of the Greek government comment on the matter saying the unspeakable, that the migrants only gather in the central squares of Athens to happily enjoy the Greek sun, then Brussels needs to take action, because things are getting serious.

If at tomorrow’s Summit, some concrete and effective actions are not taken, then the migrants will soon start gathering at the central squares of the main European capitals, only that there there will be no “sun to enjoy”. And the local authorities cannot treat them like they usually treat stray dogs. Those are human beings that we are talking about here!

All in all, the EU migration issue cannot be solved from Schumann square in Brussels. It requires incredible field work and we need to see if Commissioner Avramopoulos and his colleagues will receive the clear support and mandate they need to take imminent strategic action.

The solution of the matter clearly cannot be localised in the Southern Europe but will have to be centralised, either Brussels wants it or not.

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