Europe is looking for legal no-man's lands instead of addressing the migration problem

The European Union is seeking to establish a lawless, sovereign-less territory unrestrained by national, regional or international laws.
Friday 06/07/2018
From left, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the EU summit. (AP)
From left, Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the EU summit. (AP)

Even if the EU summit on illegal migration yielded concrete results, its success in reaching a consensus gives but an impression of unanimity and merely saves face. The viability of the proposed solutions remains in question.

This EU crisis meeting, in its political and socio-economic dimensions, opted for a “full-speed-ahead” approach through measures that European leaders know will be impossible to implement. By deciding these measures, European decision makers were postponing addressing the real problems.

The idea of creating "buffer zones" for illegal migrants outside EU borders to gather and vet illegal migrants before moving some of them to refugee camps inside EU borders not only expresses the European Union’s inability to come up with appropriate and practical solutions to the question of migration, it reveals a latent racist logic.

The European Union is seeking to establish a lawless, sovereign-less territory unrestrained by national, regional or international laws where Europe can deal with migrants without being accountable for the economic, social or human costs involved.

The idea of a “third geography” -- between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean -- carries in its hidden folds painful European narratives such as concentration camps established after the first and second world wars. Today’s Europe shamelessly seeks to promote the "buffer zones" idea in North African capitals, hoping they would be open to the idea of establishing such zones in their territories or maritime borders.

This might be one of the rare times that the North African capitals responded with a unified discourse, refusing any proposals that seek to wiggle out of the human and socio-economic burden of dealing with migration for the sake of simply disposing of the human surplus caught in limbo in the Mediterranean.

All five North African countries refused the establishment of holding camps for illegal migrants on their territories and insisted that north-south cooperation must be based on respect for sovereignty and international law. They maintained that the question of south-north migration must receive a more comprehensive approach.

In other words, dealing with illegal migration cannot be done through a security approach alone, let alone through an isolationist approach, such as the one that transpired from the recent Brussels declaration. Instead, there is a need to look deep into the roots of the crisis and deal with it as the result of social and developmental issues before being a question of death boats.

The North African countries propose deeper approaches to the migration phenomenon. They look at it as a natural human and social choice motivated by a normal desire to improve economic conditions and they refuse to deal with it in the same opportunistic style of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan -- using a human tragedy such as forced migration to blackmail Europe.

The problem in Europe is that its countries no longer listen to each other or to themselves. Some European countries at the migration front lines seem to have decided to go it alone and find bilateral solutions with the countries of the south. Italy’s current migration policies go in the direction of partially ignoring Brussels.

There are no indications that Europe is considering changing its stand and approach towards migration. The security-based ideational framework as outlined in the agenda of the Barcelona talks dominates and repatriation operations of migrants are in full swing on a background of pushing for more European isolationism.

Obviously, the status quo is not sustainable and Brussels will either have to deal with illegal migration as a purely social and developmental Mediterranean and North African problem or see the European tower crumble one stone at a time.