Europe’s migration policy: Is Schengen area regime being abolished? - ANALYSIS
Baku – APA. Currently, Europe is experiencing an unprecedented influx of immigrants - in 2015 alone almost 350,000 migrants have arrived to EU territory from Africa and the Middle East. Planned and typical flow of migration – that is, people from quite developed countries wishing to relocate to Europe – should also be added. Finally, a huge flow of migrants is taking place from Ukraine to Eastern Europe, especially Poland, which stood and stands for safety of and shelter to all citizens of Ukraine fleeing the war in the east of the country. The result is a very explosive situation, which has already forced the most radical circles in Europe to take certain steps and make statements. We’ll be talking about it later. Let’s first note suggested civilized steps.
So the most important issue now is the approval of mandatory quotas proposed by the European Union for acceptance of migrants.
To say the least, there is no unanimity in this matter. This initiative of Brussels did not sparked enthusiasm in some states, and other countries strongly opposed to it. In fact, the idea is to distribute the migrants currently settled in Italy and Greece in all EU member states. As a result, Italy, tired of fighting with the influx of migrants on its own, as well as Germany, Austria and Sweden support this idea. Moreover, Italy is not just in “favor of it", but in fact it hints at the possibility to take such steps that would harm whole Europe. That is, either you agree to accept the migrants voluntarily or you will have to accept them in a different way.
At the same time such an attitude is a response to the actions of neighboring countries: France closed its border for migrants, Austria and Switzerland denied entry to the refugees. Police officers in these countries check the trains departing from Italian cities, returning some of them if migrants are detected.
The EU has decided to meet the demands of Italy and Greece, proposing to allocate 40,000 migrants to the member countries on the basis of quotas. The size of the quota relies on four criteria: population, GDP, unemployment and the number of refugees accepted by the country from 2010 to 2014. The first two factors play a major role here.
Eastern Europe countries have taken the toughest position. For example, Hungary, which provided shelter to more than 50,000 refugees from Kosovo, the Middle East and North Africa early this year, has said that under no circumstances it will accept this many refugees, no matter what decisions the EU is going to adopt. The situation with Ukraine and Poland is not even worth discussion; they say, “Come and go”. So how viable the EU's decision on quotas is going to be is under a big question.
Meanwhile, some countries have taken such drastic measures that it questions the very principles of existence and free movement of the European Union. For example, Belgium has tightened security measures on the railways. Control over the luggage of passengers has tightened and the number of patrols at train stations has increased. Hungary has just finished the construction of a fence with barbed wire on the border with Serbia. The Netherlands decided to toughen laws against asylum. Bulgaria deployed troops to maintain control on the border with Macedonia. It is possible that this is not the end but the beginning.
As usual, even the long growing crisis should has the last point that pushes for decisive action. What inflamed things this time was the 21 August incident, namely an attack on a high-speed passenger train from Amsterdam to Paris. Three people were wounded as fire opened by Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani. This incident developed a new anti-migrant campaign with a touch of nationalism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. The fact is that many of the refugees are often perceived as potential terrorists in Europe, and it is assumed that along with the refugees radical Islamists may arrive in Europe. For the time being, there is no real fact to justify such an attitude. Furthermore, the possibility seems to be unlikely to turn into a reality. And the EU is busy taking actions to strengthen railway safety. These steps have been agreed upon by all EU member states. The meeting was attended by ministers from France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The matter is about
a) increasing control over identification of passengers and their luggage at stations
b) toughing legislation on arms shipment
c) expanding closer cooperation of special services of the European countries
Representatives of the Western countries condemn radicalism, including measures such as the erection of walls between countries. However, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz did not rule out tightening of border controls between EU countries. And this, as you know, jeopardize the very meaning of the Schengen area. As a result, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on the possible dissolution of the Schengen area and did not rule out that the German government will introduce passport controls at its borders. However, most experts believe that this statement is more political in nature and aimed at exerting some pressure on other countries that are not as active as Germany working to address the crisis within the EU. Perhaps this is a hint of Eastern Europe that is against the introduction of tougher regime on borders with Germany.
Despite numerous radical statements, even real steps and measures already taken, the atmosphere of “there is no sense in dramatizing the situation” prevails in Europe. Moreover, there is a need to make differentiation while speaking about the problem, then all pieces will fall into places. Concretely, all of the above refers to the uncontrolled and illegal immigration, based on the principles of asylum. There is also another form of migration to Europe - based on controlled, legal, issuance of visas at the level of embassies and consulates. The main point is that European officials not to mix concepts up, not to base on principle of “one size fits all”. It’s felt sorry about refuges from war zones, but most are interested in another question – how will the happenings influence the migration? There are grounds to say that prudence prevails in this issue. For instance: Poland. It is not secret that Poland has recently granted asylum to ten thousands of Ukrainian refugees and this figure is on a par with a simple business and labor migration flow. At the first sight, the reaction to this situation should be negative. However, such a case is not observed.
Of course, no country does not agree to accept all refugees, but refuse grant asylum to refugees just because of the fact that someone decided to shoot on train or a flood of African to Italy. At least for now, and if nothing happens unusually, the situation will not deteriorate. Even, measures taken to temporarily tighten border controls should not be taken too seriously, it is a normal reaction to an incident at Amsterdam train.
Most likely the decision on quotas will somehow realized, quotas will be reduced to some countries with high migration flow and the crisis is likely to be solved in the near future.
Vahab Rzayev/ APA Analytic Centre
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