The lakhs of poor and displaced people from African and West Asian countries migrating to Europe are being seen as socially and economically destabilizing.
Almost 1.5 million refugees have undertaken the perilous journey through the Mediterranean Sea to Greek or Italian shores since 2015. Around 40% of these refugees are from war-torn regions of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, while around 20% are Eritreans and Nigerians who have also undertaken the same ordeal to escape conditions of extreme poverty. Borders of countries within the EU are also under strain as migrants have made their way to Northern European countries, sometimes as far as Calais (a French northern port, often used as a base to get to the UK), congregating at a place called the ‘The Jungle’ and living in very squalid conditions.
The European Commission has an impossible task ahead as it needs to come up with a proposal for rehabilitating asylum seekers while EU nations are increasingly toughening their anti-immigration stance. The current system in place, known as the ‘Dublin regulation’ puts an unfair burden on the countries which are the main points of entry such as Greece, Hungary and Italy as the regulation requires refugees to claim asylum in the first country they arrive in. Attempts to institute alternatives, such as a quota system for compulsory redistribution of refugees or a ‘Dublin Plus’ regulation with a corrective fairness mechanism, have been waylaid by calls to enhance measures to deter migration to Europe. Austria and Germany, in contrast, have kept an open-door policy towards the refugees despite political backlash from within and outside. Germany alone received 1.5 million refugees in 2015. Political mediation has been seen to be the key as the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel professed the idea of multi-culturalism and integration of refugees into German society. UK has lead the EU countries who feel that rather than providing asylum once refugees come to European borders, nations bordering war-torn areas must be supported and aided in rehabilitating the refugees.
Since, many refugees and African migrants still remain in the country awaiting acceptance or yet to apply for asylum, there is a need for greater co-operation among EU nations. UK opted out of EU’s quota system for accepting refugees although David Cameron, ex-UK PM had pledged to take in 20,000 refugees over five years. Post-Brexit, co-operation on this vital issue and the Calais Jungle issue between UK and France is further impeded as negotiations on UK’s EU withdrawal is the other looming issue and these two issues are bound to affect each other. Without political mediation, the public will not be weaned out of the narrative of seeing the refugees as a nuisance, thus impeding all solutions to the crisis. The sooner EU citizenry come to grips with the causes of migration like globalization, climate change, war and instability, the better prepared will the bloc be for the burgeoning migration crisis. For this, political mediation is the need of the hour.