Europe’s migrant crisis – no end in sight


The influx of the poor masses from Africa and the Middle East, disguised as a refugee crisis, is a permanent theme in Europe.

This is often underplayed by the perception that a breakthrough has now been achieved if some agreement has been concluded within the European Union (EU) or between the EU and its neighboring states. Actually, it only buys time at best.

The problem always resurfaces and then becomes particularly clear when, as at present, masses land in southern Europe by boat across the Mediterranean within a few days. Currently, the small Italian island of Lampedusa, halfway between Italy and Tunisia, is the focal point, although the influx also continues via Spain in the West and the Balkan countries in the East of Europe.

The magic word for many leaders of the EU is a “European solution” and joint action. The problem with that is that there are many different ideas and starting points: according to the Dublin agreement, the countries around the Mediterranean must do all the work to register and house the migrants, where they then await the outcome of their asylum application.

If the application is rejected, in theory they should be sent back to their countries of origin (of course not at their own expense, but by plane and paid for by the taxpayers in Europe). In practice, however, most move from the Mediterranean states where they arrive to the economically prosperous Central Europe and remain there even after the rejection, because the will and the means are lacking to send them back.

Because the entire EU already has no border control (at most, non-refoulement controls), migrants, once inside the EU, can in practice choose where they want to be, even if this is contrary to the Dublin agreement. Because the migrants often move to relatives or acquaintances who are mostly settled in big cities, the cities are becoming more and more crowded and the associated problems more and more.

Germany, the main destination, has already reached its capacity in terms of accommodating migrants. Also in the population, the long-celebrated “Willkommenskultur” (the attitude of welcoming strangers) has given way to silent disapproval and a sense of threat, aided by increasing repulsive crimes by migrants.

There is no question of the much-discussed European unanimity between the member states either. Italy’s right-wing and Germany’s left-wing governments mutually accuse each other. Italy is angry because Germany, with its generous treatment of migrants, who receive free housing and social benefits at the same level as German citizens, further encourages the flow of migrants and, in addition, funds the many non-governmental organizations that in Italy, often against the Italian authorities, help refugees to bring in. Germany, in turn, accuses Italy of not keeping the migrants in Italy and making it uncomfortable for them through poor treatment and bad accommodation, so that they prefer to move on to Central Europe.

Both the Italian and the German governments are coming under increasing pressure from their own populations: in Italy, the right-wing prime minister Giorgia Meloni came to power precisely because of her promise to stop the wave of migrants and now more people are coming under her rule than ever.

The agreement with Tunisia, which must stop the migrant boats for payment, is apparently not worth the paper it is written on, because Tunisia is happy to take the money, but does not fulfill its part of the agreement.

The German government is increasingly divided among its coalition partners, with the liberal Free Democrats urging that the influx be broken and the Greens and Social Democrats, for whom open borders and no distinction between people are part of their core beliefs LEXICOGRAPHY. The German government not only increased the allowances for migrants, but also made it easier to bring in family members and to obtain German citizenship.

While a joint solution is being debated, Europe is being changed beyond recognition by the day.