Migration: is the EU on the right track?

Last week 10,000 refugees reached the Italian island of Lampedusa in just three days. Earlier EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had presented a ten-point plan there on how the migration issue should be tackled at the European level, calling for better job redistributing new arrivals and greater surveillance of the EU’s external borders. Europe’s press raises its eyebrows in doubt.

La Libre Belgique (BE) /

Self-delusion sold as pragmatism

The EU’s strategy is completely misguided, writes La Libre Belgique:

“By stubbornly insisting on solving its migration worries primarily through agreements with third countries, the EU is lying to itself. ... The current ‘crisis’ is mainly the result of the European strategy of building a ‘Fortress Europe’ in partnership with states along the migration routes. ... We will be told that this is pragmatism. That in order to ‘protect’ our borders we must be willing to compromise our values and pay money to regimes that don’t respect human rights or democracy. ... By deluding itself about these partnerships, the EU is deliberately forgetting that it must first and foremost set itself up with an internal migration and asylum policy.”

Maria Udrescu
Kurier (AT) /

More rigour and consistency needed

The solutions are there, they just need to be implemented, writes the Kurier:

“Thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean every year, a chaotic and unfair asylum system and grist to the mill of European right-wing populists. ... Europe must now finally implement what its interior ministers agreed on in June: much faster asylum procedures, more repatriations that are carried out immediately and the establishment of large detention centres at the external borders, where migrants must, at worst, remain in barracks for several weeks until it is clear whether they are allowed to stay or have to go back. Basically, this would be show far more rigour and consistency than Europe has displayed so far with its half-hearted migration policy.”

Ingrid Steiner-Gashi
El País (ES) /

The wrong recipes

El País finds Europe’s course inhumane:

“The climate together with the enormous corruption promoted by China and Russia are preventing the African continent from moving forward, which is indispensable if Europe wants to overcome the conflict on its southern borders one day. Moreover, it is precisely the wrong recipes that are currently winning elections in Europe, all aimed at convincing the gullible and the indifferent in a European Union that is coming ever closer to being led by a reactionary front of local nationalisms. Australia is isolating migrants on islands and Saudi Arabia is shooting Ethiopians on its borders. We haven’t quite got there yet, but that is what where we are heading.”

David Trueba
Avvenire (IT) /

Rome is violating human rights

In an attempt to curb irregular migration across the Mediterranean, Italy’s government has tasked the military with setting up special deportation camps. Avvenire is outraged:

“After floating the idea that asylum seekers from Africa constitute a national emergency and dismantling the reception system, the government clearly needs to get the situation under control. It is attempting to do so by reviving measures that have already been tried without success and by introducing others whose implementation leads to serious human rights violations. ... The total number of landings [in 2023] is close to 130,000 — far more than in previous years, proving that refugees have chosen the sea route not because of NGO sea rescue missions or previous governments, but for much deeper and more tragic reasons.”

Maurizio Ambrosini
Le Figaro (FR) /

As predictable as plate tectonics

In his leading article, Le Figaro’s editor-in-chief Patrick Saint-Paul calls for a new EU migration package:

“Was the Lampedusa crisis unexpected? Quite the opposite: wars, poverty, coupled with climate change and explosive population growth in the most vulnerable countries have made migration flows as predictable a phenomenon as plate tectonics. But Europe is planless. ... The time has come for Europeans to get together and finally adopt a new migration package. Beyond the necessary cooperation with countries of origin and transit, the protection of the EU’s external borders is crucial. This is the only way to guarantee the freedom of movement within the bloc that Europeans hold so dear.”

Patrick Saint-Paul
La Stampa (IT) /

EU Council’s prior consent needed for such deals

The strategy of concluding more agreements like the one with Tunisia will come up against major hurdles, La Stampa warns, citing a legal opinion of the EU Council:

“The agreement with Tunisia was signed ‘in disregard of the procedures’. ... Von der Leyen — accompanied by Giorgia Meloni and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte — signed the agreement without the prior authorisation of the Council, and therefore of the other governments. The document contains a warning: agreements with other countries can no longer be signed without the prior consent of the other EU states. This is a problem for Meloni and von der Leyen, who would like to repeat the Tunisia model with other North African partners, starting with Egypt.”

Alessando Barbera
Marco Bresolin
The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Strife over migrants could be the EU’s downfall

Things are not looking good for the EU, says The Daily Telegraph:

“If the EU cannot reach agreement on the fundamental issue of how to deal with migrants, then what is the point of it at all? Migration has the potential to rip apart the EU. When previously migrant-friendly countries like Germany and Sweden start to wash their hands of migrants who arrive on Europe’s southern shores, it is rapidly going to end up as a case of every country for itself. This will inevitably bring quite a reaction from those countries highly exposed to migrant flows. ... Don’t bet your last euro on the EU surviving the migrant crisis.”

Ross Clark
El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Not a problem but a host of opportunities

El Periódico de Catalunya calls for a radical change of course:

“The wild rhetoric of the far right offers no magic formula. ... Giorgia Meloni promised to put an end to the arrivals, but reality is getting the better of her. ... Tensions are also rising in Germany, with more and more people entering the country across the Czech and Polish borders. ... Europe’s problem is that no one can enter legally, even though we need the immigrants. It’s unbelievable that the EU doesn’t have a policy of issuing immigration permits at the place of origin and legal work contracts at the destination. Treating the arrivals as if they were barbarians won’t help to stop the influx. Perhaps treating them like human beings will. Then we won’t have a problem but a host of opportunities.”

Rafael Vilasanjuan
De Standaard (BE) /

Salvini wants to overtake Meloni on the right

The issue is highly risky for Meloni as head of the right-wing governing coalition, analyses De Standaard:

“Once she became prime minister, she adopted a more moderate tone and quickly realised that there is no miracle solution. Last year, there was a spectacular increase in the influx of boat people under her government. This makes her policy vulnerable and her most dangerous rival is in her own government camp. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini sees any means used to stop boats as permissible, including the deployment of the Italian navy. ... Salvini’s harsh statements must be seen as the starting signal for his campaign for next year’s European elections. Then he plans to overtake Meloni by swerving even further to the right.”

Ine Roox