by Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President of Migration Policy Institute Europe, a Brussels-based nonprofit, independent research institute that aims to provide a better understanding of migration in Europe and thus promote effective policymaking
Since the early spring of 2016, the number of people migrating across the Mediterranean has stabilised, to about 200,000 people. This is largely due to the closure of the Western Balkan route and the EU- Turkey Statement of March 2016, which sought to end irregular migration from Turkey to the European Union.
….it has led to an increasing determination…to remove both failed asylum applicants and outright economic migrants. The message to would-be migrants and each country’s general public is that illegal migration will no longer be tolerated.
….Europe faces a fundamental governance test that is undermining the legitimacy of both national and European institutions and, more directly, the integrity of management structures of those member states most directly affected by spontaneous migration.
To be sure, the activist and humanitarian ‘industry’ does its best to portray all migration as a humanitarian and protection issue ‒ as it should – and many citizens subscribe to that perspective. But responsible governments know that when crises get out of control, their principal duty is to make policy for and govern on behalf of all their people; to observe legal obligations strictly but narrowly; and to allow values to define only what is purely unacceptable behaviour.
….There are a number of measures that can make…..migration management easier.
First and foremost, offer refugees adequate humanitarian assistance and real opportunities to resume their lives in first-asylum countries. Educate their children so as to prevent the creation of a ‘lost generation’, and support job creation. Both efforts require the cooperation of the host government and the commitment of very large investments.
Second, the manner in which people seek protection in desirable destinations must be redirected. Refugees requiring resettlement (because of special needs and/or as a means to relieve pressures on first asylum countries) must be vetted and selected before they reach a destination country.
[Third], states that receive large spontaneous flows must believe in borders and watch them assiduously. They must institute and execute internal controls responsibly and remove quickly (both voluntarily and not) those without robust legal grounds for protection.
the true challenge for Europe in the decades ahead will be mass migration from Africa. Much larger public and private resources must be invested in creating opportunities for Africans to stay and build lives in their own countries. Otherwise Europe will find itself taking more extreme steps to protect itself, with less success. Leadership, imagination and patience will be the key ingredients.
Will Europe be up to that task?