The EU and migration: how to proceed?


The renewed tightening of asylum laws in Europe and the boat disaster off Greece’s southwest coast, in which several hundred people apparently drowned, have reignited the debate in Europe’s press about how to make the EU’s immigration policy fit for the future. Fences and barriers alone are not the answer, commentators stress.


Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

Separate immigration from asylum

Europe must close its borders completely, the Kleine Zeitung demands:

“Europe bears responsibility, there can be no question of that. Wherever possible, we must create and pay for humane conditions in reception centres. But in order to avoid deaths, there is no alternative to the strict separation of immigration and asylum. And to make this separation work, we must not open our borders but rigorously seal them off. ... Those who want to come to the EU for economic reasons must not simply come, but go through a legal, formal, secure process within the framework of manageable quotas. Otherwise: no chance. Those, on the other hand, who are actually seeking asylum should find protection as close as possible to their country of origin.”

Ernst Sittinger
Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

Only outsourcing the problem

Deutschlandfunk criticises the new asylum compromise together with the planned migration agreements with third countries such as Morocco, Tunisia and Rwanda:

“The plan permanently calls into question the moral values that Europe, and Germany in particular, are so keen to promote. The dirty work of keeping people in need out of Europe is being outsourced for large sums of money to regimes that treat their own citizens harshly, never mind people who are fleeing other countries. You can do it that way, but then you should also be clear about what you’re doing. ... The strategy of isolation at all costs shifts the problem elsewhere at best, but it solves nothing. That, too, is a fact.”

Franka Welz
De Morgen (BE) /

Offer a chance of happiness closer to home

The migrant boat disaster off the Greek coast proves that a policy of deterrence is not the answer, De Morgen writes:

“Border control is only half of the policy. The other half is cooperation and trade with countries and regions from which migrants flee in search of a better life. We should not deter these ‘happiness seekers’ or condemn them to a death at sea; we should offer them a chance to find happiness closer to home. ... Cooperation on development could be a cornerstone of geopolitics and trade policy. But who dares tell that to their voters nowadays?”

Bart Eeckhout
The Observer (GB) /

Address the causes of irregular migration

Europe bears responsibility for the situation in the refugees’ and migrants’ countries of origin, The Observer admonishes:

“European countries, including Britain, have persistently failed to develop a humane, coherent and effective approach to the challenges posed by irregular migration. ... The need to recognise fundamental causes and tackle migration challenges at source is urgent. That must mean expanded, systemic cooperation wherever politically possible with countries of origin and transit. It means offering more (not less) development aid and assistance. It means acknowledging food insecurity, inequality, conflict and climate crisis — key drivers of irregular migration — are problems the west helped create.”