The European Union’s Interior Ministers convened last Monday on migration but didn’t come to the preferred outcome which was set by the EU leaders only one month ago, in June. Many EU member states opposed to the proposed, by the European Council (EC), distribution of the 40.000 asylum seekers coming from Greece and Italy within the next two years.
The final decision regarding the number of the migrants that every country will allow to enter its borders is to be answered now at the end of this year. The EU interior ministers that are against do not seem to realize that these refugees will come to their country either legally through an organized European mobility project or illegally trespassing the borders of Greece and Italy to end up to healthiest economies.
It is time not only for the biggest European economies like Germany and France to show their deep humanitarian sentiment in order to help the EU deal with its migration issues but also for smaller countries following the path of Ireland. A solution to the distribution of the remaining 8000 asylum seekers must be found promptly.
However, it is clear that 40.000 migrants are too few the moment that only Greece has received 70.000 in the first seven months of 2015 according to UN. The EU has to undertake more sound measures if its true purpose is to provide a better environment for its citizens and also set an example to other countries to follow its lead.
Germany and France to take the burden
Germany and France are the countries that have already accepted to receive 10.500 and 6.752 refugees respectively. This is a very positive sign shown by the biggest economies in the EU. Basically, these counties will relocate more than half of the so far agreed number (32.256) of immigrants coming from Italy and Greece.
The pleasant surprise came though from Ireland which, even if it was exempted and didn’t have any obligation to accept refugees, voluntarily decided to commit to take in 600 asylum seekers from the aforementioned southern coutries.
Members against this project
On the opposite side, there are member states such as Spain and Poland that heavily oppose to this plan even if accepted to undertake part of the percentage that was assigned to them. Further, Jorge Fernandez Diaz, the Spanish Interior Minister, stated the following: “We are very critical of the relocation plan because it will create a pull factor attracting more migrants to Europe instead of preventing their departure”.
Even if this may sound quite logical, we should seek the main causes that create this migration waves. The majority of these people are fleeing their countries (e.g. Lybia, Syria etc.) because of war and poverty conditions. Thus, this leads to the conclusion that they will ultimately come to the Old Continent, either help is provided to them or not.
What is more, Austria and Hungary denied providing any help revealing their unwillingness to support this project. More specifically, the Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said that “Austria has become the first target country and deals with 10 times more asylum seekers” application than Greece and Italy put together and this cannot be right”. Hungary has been exempted from taking in any asylum seekers from Italy or Greece.
EU should not wait till end 2015
The EU member states have postponed their decision on the relocation of the 40.000 asylum seekers untill the end of 2015 but by that time another disaster may “hit” Europe’s door. The number of migrants travelling illegally by the sea is increasing during the summer, something that should alert the European officials who seem to worry only about the summer destinations forgetting though the tragic event of last April when 700 people coming to Italy from Libya died at sea.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU migration Commissioner, expressing his disappointment for not reaching the target mentioned that “we are almost there” at the news conference at the end of the extraordinary meeting. However, missing one fifth of the desired number is not “almost there”, especially the moment that many EU countries reveal great opposition to this programme.
What EU should do
There a lot of things that need to be done on migration from the part of the EC and the EU leaders. First of all, this scheme should be committed to be implemented by each and every EU country as soon as possible. Secondly, the target numbers that the Commission is setting must drastically increase if we want to tackle this long-lasting issue.
The later basically means that instead of 40.000 asylum seekers, the EU should be able to distribute at least half of the migrants (about 75.000) that are coming from countries like Greece and Italy which don’t have the adequate funds or facilities to support their settlement or even their temporary stay. Also, projects like Frontex should be upgraded and refinanced every year by the EC in order to be able to prevent the repetition of events like the one happened in Lampedusa last April.
Let’s just hope that Europe will act immediately and drastically showing its substantial humanitarian spirit once more.