How Europe Will Fail to Address the Migration Crisis in Early 2016

Yves here. This post provides a clear-eyed and sobering discussion of the numerous political conflicts that stand in the way of European countries making progress on, much the less resolving, the migration crisis. It also, refreshingly, does not mince words on key issues. For instance, it depicts the Greek and Italian government as being sensible in foot-dragging in building refugee holding tanks which in bloodless Eurocrat speak are called “hotspots.” The author, Jacob Kirkegaard, points out that these “hotspots” would have to be “de facto prison camps” to work as envisaged, which in turn means that Northern European countries could continue to renege on their promise to take refugees and leave them interned in these supposed waystation.

I anticipate some readers will be unhappy that I am featuring a piece from a Peterson Institute fellow. I am indeed loath to do anything even in a small way to promote that organization, but this article has nothing to do with their pet topic of deficit hawkery. In addition, I’ve been on a panel with Kirkegaard, and even though he was there to tout the neoliberal party line, he was far more careful with evidence and narrower in his claims that I’ve found his fellow travelers to be. And in general, I think it’s important to guard against Manichean thinking, of seeing people as black or white. So while anything produced by the Peterson Institute should be read with a great deal of skepticism, one should allow for the possibility that it can occasionally be on the mark, particularly on issues distant from their main agenda.

Note the Kirkegaard does not stick his neck out all that much; he merely points out that Europe will continue to fail to manage the refugee crisis into the medium term, which in light of how badly things are going is a sensible call. Moreover, he describes the set of conflicts and explains why there is no mechanism for forcing resolution. It’s not hard to see that gridlock will continue unless there is an external change, such as improved conditions in the Middle East so that emigration falls off, or alternatively, word getting back that Europe is so hostile to migrants that it is not worth the risk to try to gain entry. That is already starting to happen. From Euronews, Migrant crisis: Iraqis return home, disenchanted with life in Germany:

Heval Aram is waiting for a flight to Iraq. He says he and his family travelled for 12 days to reach Germany, but the poor conditions they experienced in refugee camps pushed them to return home.

“They gather people in horrible camps with no space to sleep, bathe or relax. There is no hope here in Germany. I hope nobody will leave their home to come here,” he said.

Others claim the food is too expensive for the amount of money they receive from the state.

There are also complaints the asylum process is too slow.

Some pawn jewellery in order to buy a ticket home, returning, they say, with less than they had on arrival in Germany.

Alla Hadrous owns a jewellery shop and runs a travel agency. He says:

“A lot have left already. I don’t have the exact figure, but it’s a lot. Some have had to sell their valuables – for example, in the jewellery shop next door – in order to buy a ticket back to Erbil or Baghdad.”

For some, returning to conflict-torn Iraq is preferable to the reality of life as a refugee. Others, however, are taking a chance on life in Germany.

This at a minimum may mean that the EU countries are starting to succeed, whether by accident or design, in deterring “economic” migrants, those leaving because they’ve taken a hit in their living standards and hoped to better themselves in Europe. But there are still plenty who are leaving due to survival risk, and they have every reason to still take the gamble.

By Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics. Originally published at VoxEU.

The migrant crisis will continue to top headlines in 2016. This column takes a detailed look at the EU’s response to dealing with migration, concluding that everything points towards failure as the likely outcome. Unlike the most critical aspects of the Eurozone Crisis, the main drivers of the current migration emergency are external factors such as war. These circumstances are highly unlikely to change in the medium term. The hardball politics and threats that proved extraordinarily effective in coercing member states into accepting domestic political conditionality in return for financial aid during the Eurozone Crisis are doomed to fail when it comes to migration.

Following the ultimately overwhelming rejection by Greek voters of euro exit, the sudden rise in migrant inflows in the autumn quickly rose to the top of the European political agenda towards the end of 2015. Migration replaced Greece as the topic for special meetings of the EU Council in September (European Council 2015a) and November (2015b), which also included a meeting with Turkey (2015c). Migration was also top of the agenda for the regular EU Council meetings in October (2015d) and December (2015e), European justice and home affairs ministers replaced finance ministers in the media spotlight (2015f), and the European Commission presented a new reform package to allegedly solve the crisis (European Commission 2015a).

Yet, reminiscent of the futile efforts by European leaders early in the Eurozone Crisis, this initial flurry of political and diplomatic initiatives will likely not solve the dangerous political crisis currently facing Europe. Left unaddressed, the migration crisis is as politically potent as the Eurozone Crisis itself in its capacity to undermine current mainstream politics in the region.

Yet, as in 2010-12, publics will in all probability have to steel themselves for an even deeper crisis to force the political wheels of Europe into motion towards solutions possible only in the direst of emergencies. I made a comprehensive set of such solution proposals with the introduction of a European Mobility and Migration Union in early December 2015 (Kirkegaard 2015).

The State of Play in the Migration Crisis Response at the End of 2015

The EU Council conclusions on migration from 17 December 2015 correctly stated that “for the integrity of Schengen to be safeguarded it is indispensable to regain control over the external borders” (European Council 2015g). Leaders, however, completely failed to agree on measures to actually achieve this outcome. As pointed out in the latest European Commission state of play review (European Commission 2016a), member states still do not contribute adequate personnel to the existing common European border management institutions, Frontex (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the EU) and EASO (European Asylum Support Office). Frontline states – Italy1 and Greece2 – especially, hence remain largely on their own with respect to controlling what in the Schengen Area is a common European external border.

    • Of 750 personnel requested, even in mid-January 2016 EU member states have only pledged 447.
  • This perpetuates the current situation, where registration and fingerprinting of new arrivals remains partial.
  • Given the obvious national security implications, EU leaders’ lack of immediate commitment of adequate new member state resources is concerning.

The Deal with Turkey: Lack of Trust Undermines Effectiveness

The EU in late November further struck a deal with Turkey (European Council 2015h) to try to control the EU’s external border by getting its government’s help to stem the flow of refugees into especially Greece in return for up to €3bn in financial aid and a host of other political incentives offered to Ankara.

How this deal will be implemented, however, remains unclear, as trust and verification issues loom large. A reduction in migrant inflows through Turkey to about 4,000 per day in December (from 5-6,000 per day in November) has been registered (2015i), though it is uncertain whether worse seasonal weather or actual Turkish government measures can be attributed. As Figure 1 from the European Commission (2015b) illustrates, the effects on the ground of the agreement with Turkey have to date not been self-evident.

Figure 1. Daily inflows of migrants and refugees into Greece

kirkegaard fig1 22 jan

 

Source: Frontex’s “Daily Regional Overview” reports.

Unless new concrete Turkish government actions lead to additional significant reductions in migrant inflows into the EU, it seems implausible that member states will actually release any of the promised €3 billion to Ankara. Given how Turkey – at considerable fiscal expense – already hosts millions of Syrian refugees, a lack of up-front EU cash is highly unlikely to incentivise the Erdogan administration to take effective actions in the short term. Lack of mutual trust hence creates a classic chicken-and-egg situation between the EU and Turkey, suggesting that the current bilateral agreement will likely not yield concrete results in the near term. Only direct engagement by the top EU leaders with Turkish president Erdogan can likely in 2016 change the status quo.3

The Hotspot Focus

A key component of the EU response to the migration crisis has been the focus on hotspots (e.g. supposedly temporary refuge camps in the frontier countries of Italy and Greece), relocation and returns. Given how the EU Council Conclusions merely calls for more urgent implementation of this strategy, its current failure will continue in 2016. The glaring problems are numerical, logistical and political.

Numbers wise, it is apparent that a hypothetical solution that even in principle covers only a fraction of the actual problem is in reality no solution at all. Up to 160,000 refugees can be potentially relocated among EU and Schengen member states, despite almost 1.1 million asylum seekers arriving in the 28 EU member states from January to November 2015, of which over 400,000 were from evidently war-torn Syria and Iraq alone (UNHCR 2015). Frontex similarly estimates that approximately 880,000 refugees arrived in just Greece and Italy from January to early December 2015.

    • Under current policy, Greece and Italy would – in the case of a ‘successful’ EU migration response where the 160,000 relocation target is met – be implicitly expected to continue to host over 80% of the actual number of new arrivals.

 

This is an obviously totally untenable situation, particularly in light of the fact that to date (mid-January 2016, see European Commission 2015c) just 272 migrants have actually been relocated to other EU countries.

Despite the EU Council Conclusions noting that hotspot construction must be accelerated, it should therefore be no surprise that Athens and Rome have to date appeared reluctant.

    • As of mid-January 2016, only one of a planned six hotspots was fully operational in Italy and one of five planned in Greece (European Commission 2016b).

 

Critiques of the lack of Greek or Italian hotspot camp construction from Northern European non-frontier states is therefore both misguided and self-serving. It is clear that they would prefer the vast majority of refugees to remain incarcerated in Greece and Italy – something the governments here of course well understand will be a near political certainty, should adequate hotspot and shelter facilities be built by them in the first place.

    • A more basic logistical problem with hotspots is the fact that that almost none of the arrivals wishes to remain in Italy or Greece, but they instead want to continue onwards to Germany, Sweden or other EU members.

 

Hence any such hotspots camps would have to be de facto prison camps, equipped and guarded to prevent newly arrived refugees from simply slipping out in the middle of the night to continue their journey north. Unless refugees’ own preferences for their final destination are somehow changed – something only far reaching changes in national regulations or populist political sentiments can likely engineer, the hotspot strategy appears futile and fundamentally at odds with basic European values.

The EU Commission’s proposals for, among other things, a new European Border and Coast Guard (European Commission 2015d) are correct in terms of aspiration, but suffer from the inevitable constraints of originating from an organisation (e.g. the EU Commission) without its own fiscal resources and whose budget is already largely fixed until 2020. The European Border and Coast Guard proposal to establish a 1,500-strong pool of experts to be deployed in under three days by 2020 (!) is hardly a credible external border control organisation, recalling how in the ongoing emergency almost half of that number of Frontex/EASO positions are currently unfilled in Greece and Italy.

Likewise, is the proposed new right of intervention of the EU’s Coast Guard potentially against the wishes of member states, if the Coast Guard deemed the member state to have failed to properly manage an external border? It may on paper and in constitutional law terms be a big step towards, for the first time, equipping an EU institution with elements of a member states’ monopoly on violence. But in reality, the envisioned Coast Guard will never have the manpower, equipment or institutional capacity to secure an external EU border unless it does so at the explicit request of, and in assistance of, the member state in question. Imagining the Coast Guard as some sort of invading army that swoops in to ‘do Europe’s border control business’ is hardly credible, especially as it must be presumed that any EU Coast Guard personnel would have to adhere to the national laws of the member state in question.

And the European financial commitment to credibly carry out these tasks simply isn’t there. As I noted in my December 2015 proposal for an migratory and mobility union, external border control is quite costly – the US federal government spends up to €30bn annually on external border control tasks. In comparison, the proposed Coast Guard is expected to be implemented through an EU budget allocation of just €239 million in 2016, rising to €270 million in 2017 and adding 602 positions by 2020. Even considering the fact that member states will of course continue to devote substantial national resources towards external border control, such miserly funding for a flagship European policy proposal to address a critically important problem cannot credibly hope to make a difference.

What Might be Next in 2016?

Unlike the most critical aspects of the Eurozone crisis, the main drivers of the current migration emergency are external factors, such as demographics, war and abject poverty in the regions bordering Europe – circumstances that are highly unlikely to change materially in even the medium term. What this means is that the hardball politics and threats that proved extraordinarily effective in coercing member state governments into accepting domestic political conditionality in return for financial aid during the Eurozone Crisis are doomed to fail when it comes to migration. Syrian refugees contemplating fleeing to Europe via Greece are just not going to care much about whether Greece is being threatened with suspension from the Schengen Area by the other member states unhappy about how the Greek government is living up to its previous commitments.

The key political driver of the migration crisis is the level of actual inflows into Europe. Here, historical asylum data suggest that inflows seasonally decline from Q4 to Q1 in any given year, likely due to adverse weather, are relative stable from Q1 to Q2, and then rise significantly from Q2 to Q3. If this pattern proves to be the case also in 2016, relatively little political activity should likely be expected on this issue early in the year, as during the Dutch EU presidency EU leaders will comfort themselves with the fact that at least things aren’t as bad as in the autumn of 2015. Only once such complacency is punctured by renewed rises in migrant inflows in the summer of 2016 does it appear possible that Europe may politically reconsider its current inadequate approach.

At that point in time, when more effective solutions will likely have to be launched to counter public dissatisfaction, it will likely become clear that migration – given its obvious political potency and difference in degrees to which countries emphasise it and their historical experiences – is simply not a political topic fit for action at the 28 member state level. Instead, necessary solutions to the migration crisis will have to be initiated among a smaller group of like-minded member states. As I have discussed in my proposals, such solutions will have to include at least partial surrender of national sovereignty over border control issues, the establishment of an entirely new comprehensive common border control and coast guard organisation in Europe, and agreement to pool very substantial new fiscal resources to pay for this at the European level. German Finance Minister Schäble’s recent proposal for a new pan-European fuel surcharge (Suddeutsche Zeitung 2016) to pay for the current refugee crisis in Europe is a potentially very positive development, suggesting that the realistic financing needs of the current emergency are gradually being grasped at the highest political levels in Europe.

What role the synchronised French and German election cycles in 2017 will play is an open question. Certainly, the political window for incumbent governments to do something effective about migration at the European level will, by mid-2016, be rapidly closing. Hopefully, the prospects of either severely undermining decades of European integration or facing national electorates politically naked in 2017 will generate the political will in Paris and Berlin. A far-reaching Franco-German summer initiative in 2016 would be sure to be quickly joined by at least the Mediterranean EU members and the Benelux countries. And were it – as my proposals suggest – to be replete with the surrender of relevant national sovereignty, commitment of adequate national fiscal resources and the vision to establish a credible common European external border control organisation, it would offer Europe the best option to solve the migration crisis next year.

Footnotes

1 The European Commission estimates that Italy needs about 60 additional Frontex officers. See http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/securing-eu-borders/legal-documents/docs/communication_-_progress_report_on_the_implementation_of_the_hotspots_in_italy_annex_en.pdf.

2 The European Commission estimates that Greece needs about 600 additional Frontex officers, see http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/securing-eu-borders/legal-documents/docs/communication_-_progress_report_on_the_implementation_of_the_hotspots_in_greece_annex_en.pdf.

3 The fact that Turkey was at the November summit represented instead by Prime Minister Davutoğlu was an ill omen. It was in a way reciprocated by the EU Council Conclusions, which rather than immediately committing the new resources to Turkey instead tasked COREPER “to rapidly conclude its work on how to mobilise the 3 billion euro for the Turkey Refugee Facility” – e.g. hardly a priority.

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34 comments

  1. Richard Cottrell

    There is no appetite anywhere in Europe for further surrender of national sovereignty. In 2017, the British (Brexit) will probably vote to leave the Union. Schengen has collapsed. The overarching climb to European sovereignty, as though Europe were a state, is over. This Pollyanna of an article like much that comes from the inkwells of the globalista, has no reference values whatsoever concerning the feelings of the nationalities who live on the European continent.
    The watchword now is the recapture of sovereignty, whether it concerns the immigration crisis or anything else.
    Richard Cottrell
    Member if the European Parliament (retired).

    1. digi_owl

      The more i looked into the whole EU thing it seems like something sold by right wing finance to left wing academia under false pretenses.

      The financiers managed to convince academia that EU was the reason Europe had been “peaceful” for a generation, when really it had been under occupation by two “superpowers” having a staring match.

      Thus supporting EU was to support European peace, when all it really did was support the looting of the European nations by finance.

      1. fajensen

        Instead, necessary solutions to the migration crisis will have to be initiated among a smaller group of like-minded member states. As I have discussed in my proposals, such solutions will have to include at least partial surrender of national sovereignty over border control issues, the establishment of an entirely new comprehensive common border control and coast guard organisation in Europe,

        One should realize that “like-minded member states” means a France with Marine Le Pen surely gaining power from the current mess, her equivalents on the rise in Germany and with Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic already making a stand.

        This “solution” of “like-minded member states” will in practice mean the erection of an Iron-Curtain right across Europe, leaving the south totally to fend for itself. Then it’s only a question of (a short) time before the south get fed up with that and leaves – and/or – Turkey gets ideas on making the world map so it more like the maps in the Turkish school books!

        The first problem, as I see it, is that the EU simply will not stand up for it’s own people and for common European values. Since there is no will to begin with, it does not matter how many resources are made available for anything, because nothing is exactly what will be done.

        Secondly, as I see things ,the EU’s problems are perhaps worse than a mere lack of heart (or effective common agreements on values), because: Whenever there is an actual opportunity to show what the EU is made of, the most stupid position is invariably the one to be chosen by Brussels – consequently, it is clear that the EU is made of Solid Stupid.

        We got plenty of “own-brand stupid” and fecklessness right here already, it’s not something we shall need to import more of in the near future. Neither from North Africa nor Brussels. We have all we can possibly take already.

          1. fajensen

            Sure, there is (The US is actually more diverse than Europe is) It is very clear that the groping of women, street begging, pick-pocketing, racist intolerance, placing religion over the law, etcetera, are definitively not common, accepted, behaviors anywhere in the EU – until very recently, or perhaps it was a very long time ago, a time that we all believed we were over & done with.

            The EU knows that once limits and standards are set, then one cannot have the eternal, unthinking, e-coli like expansion of EU-scope that Brussels think it wants but actually cannot handle.

            OTOH – If the Euro-phile leaders like Merkel does not decide, “put their collective foot down” some place and ACT, quite soon too, then other people with simpler solutions and no compunctions about spouting them in public, *will* grab the dropped and ignored ball, they will run with it, and they will win elections.

            In Denmark, we have “Dansk Folkeparti” – in the beginning fringe nutters which were given a completely clear field for 15 years on immigration issues and now it’s the second largest political party, Sweden the same is happening with “Sveriges Demokraterne” but time-shifted, Norway “Fremskrittspartiet”, France “Front Nationale”, Greece “Golden Dawn”.

            What will the EU do then? Negotiate with the nationalists or simply adopt itself along more fascist lines of thinking, become the “Iron Fist of the North” – complete with secret security police and standing armies showing places like Ethiopia who’s The Man?

    1. Foy

      Thanks for that link. It spells out very bluntly the problems that are coming down the track with male/female population sex imbalances due to refugee migration:

      “According to calculations based on the Swedish government’s figures, a total of 18,615 males aged 16 and 17 entered Sweden over the course of the past year, compared with 2,555 females of the same age. Sure enough, when those figures are added to the existing counts of 16- and 17-year-old boys and girls in Sweden—103,299 and 96,524, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Database—you end up with a total of 121,914 males in Sweden aged 16 or 17 and 99,079 females of the same age. The resulting ratio is astonishing: These calculations suggest that as of the end of 2015, there were 123 16- and 17-year-old boys in Sweden for every 100 girls of that age. “

      “Our research also found a link between sex ratios and the emergence of both violent criminal gangs and anti-government movements. “

      Those ratios are scary. I fear this is going to end very badly in years to come. Unfortunately I can’t see any solutions that will resolve the refugee problem to anyone’s satisfaction. The only real solution is to stop the flood of refugees, which means stopping the Syrian war and rebuilding the place and making it stable and safe so people return to their countries but the chances of that happening let alone in a sufficient timeframe…well…what a mess.

  2. Lou

    “Unlike the most critical aspects of the Eurozone crisis, the main drivers of the current migration emergency are external factors, such as demographics, war and abject poverty in the regions bordering Europe – circumstances that are highly unlikely to change materially in even the medium term.”

    As a french citizen, I can’t help noticing there’s a key point missing here : talking about “wars” without mentionning who started those wars. Approximately one third of refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Irak. So they are fleing wars started by the USA.
    What I think Europe should do with those refugees : send them directly to the USA. Why should european people suffer the consequences of american wars ?

    Regards,
    Lou

    P.S. as a long time reader of NC, I know that Yves Smith disagrees with much of american foreign policy in the ME. But that’s not the point. It’s the american gvt, elected by american citizens, who is responsible for most of the catastrophic situation in the middle east today. So America should grant asylum to the refugees and not lecture us about how to deal with that situation.

    1. BillC

      Lou, even American citizens who think about it will realize that it is difficult to name any current world-class crisis that was not spawned by the unbounded idiocy (even if judged only in terms of self-interest) of US military, foreign, and economic policy over the last several decades.

      For USians to believe that we are “the city on the hill,” “beacon of freedom,” or other such self-congratulatory epithets is to deny the obvious products of US engagement with the rest of the world ever since Vietnam, though we’ve certainly doubled up on the idiocy in the last 30 years or so.

      You gotta give us credit for one thing, though: our propaganda organs (aka mass media) do a damn good job of convincing the populace of the precise opposite of our “good” works and of their “beneficial” effects for both the US and global populations. We’ve got even the ancient Romans beat; they fooled the rubes with bread and circuses. The US elite gets the job done with only circuses.

      I live in Italy, and I think Kirkegaard is spot-on regarding what’s going on here. From having watched Brussels work for a while, I tend to think his predictions are correct, too.

    2. fajensen

      Why should european people suffer the consequences of american wars ?
      Because, the Europeans never saw an American war-on-brown-people they didn’t like?

      We should not forget that it was NATO providing air support for Al Quaida in Libya; NATO in Afghanistan, European armies were active in Iraq, we have European leaders who thought (and still do) it would be a great testament to “Freedom” to have Assad lynched by the mob like Gaddafi and Saddam were, and then European leaders agreeing that Putin is Bad because the US says so.

      We Europeans are the poodle of the US and now we either have to eat our own shit because we were so happy that our master played with us a little, but, he left us in the apartment – or we rapidly grow a pair and choose a different path.

  3. visitor

    The skeptical tone of this excellent article is all the more justified when pointing out a few elements that it does not explicitly lay out.

    1) This is the third migration crisis in Europe in the past 15 years.

    Spain was the on the front line during the first one, with migrants sailing from West Africa to the Canary Islands, or from Morocco to Southern Spain, or trying to enter the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Spain had to deal with the problem basically alone, patrolling the seas, turning its enclaves into fortresses, and paying Mauritania to prevent migrants from departing to Spain.

    During the second crisis, Italy was on the front line, with migrants sailing mainly from Tunisia and later Libya, overwhelming Italian islands such as Lampedusa. Italy did not get much help from the EU, the infamous Frontex “Triton” operation summoned after Italy called for help put even less ships and resources into action than the preceding Italian maritime operation “Mare Nostrum”.

    The third migration crisis is taking place now, and this time Greece is on the front line, its islands overwhelmed; just like in the previous avatars of the crisis, boats are sinking, leaving corpses floating to the shores of Europe, and Greece, just like Spain and Italy before it, is being chastised for not properly controlling immigrants, fingerprinting them, and providing decent accommodation.

    The first crisis involved tens of thousands of migrants; the second one hundreds of thousands. Now millions are on the move, and the Southern embankment of fortress Europe cracked — this is the reason why other countries far from Schengen outer-borders are getting worried. Of course, migrants continue to try reaching Italy and Spain in large numbers as well.

    2) The EU has been very consistent in one point: its “financial commitment to credibly carry out these tasks simply isn’t there” and never was.

    At the end of last year, after the proposal with Turkey had been floated, the EU met with African governments in La Valletta to discuss the control of migration flows to Europe. The EU was asking African countries to set up “hot spots” (again), take back rejected asylum seekers, and tried to entice them with €1.8b. For all of Africa. African countries were rightfully dismissive of this “miserly funding”.

    Almost two years ago, the EU established the Madad trust fund to support Syrian refugees in the camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Budget allocated: €4b. It looks like a lot, but there are 4m people in those camps.

    As the crisis with Syrian refugees reached pitched fever in Autumn, with various moves and countermoves by various EU countries, the EU and its member states had disbursed €50m (with Germany having sent €5m)… Because of the crisis, the Czechs suddenly realized they had to do something, and disbursed 73m crowns — about €6m.

    The EU was not able to put €4b for all neighbours affected by the Syrian war, and is now discussing paying €3b just to one of those countries.

    This demonstrates that we cannot expect the EU or its member states to “to pool very substantial new fiscal resources to pay for this”.

    My personal guess is that the EU will attempt to turn the border with Turkey into some kind of impenetrable (or deadly) barrier. Bulgaria is already building some kind of wall there. I suspect those measures will probably just divert migration flows through the Black Sea to Ukraine, as the widespread corruption and rickety state apparatus will provide plenty of opportunities for Ukrainian mafia organizations to funnel migrants to Poland or Romania.

  4. Lou

    P.P.S.
    I’ve just read the article about Donald Trump in the “Links” section of NC.
    Although I don’t like the guy, I perfectly agree with what he said on the ME at the GOP debate in Las Vegas last december :
    “We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess.”

    But I disagree when he says that America shouldn’t welcome muslims refugees. It’s America duty to take care of them by giving them green cards.
    You broke it, you own it, right ?
    I know that refugee are people, I just want you to understand my point of view – and almost everyone I spoke to in France about that refugee problem shares my opinion.
    Lou

    1. Foy

      I agree that US actions in the Middle East are responsible for the flood of refugees and migrants, they broke it and they should own it. But the chances of them ever owning it are zero. It will never happen. The US love going to war overseas as they know the Atlantic and Pacific are the best walls ever against refugee/migrant and associated resource blowback. The result will always be someone else’s problem and the US have relied on that for a very long time.

      While the thought ‘you broke it, you own it’ is morally correct, history says that ideal of ownership of the problem will never happen in the real world. Morals don’t exist in geopolitics. I’m sorry to say that unfortunately expecting this solution is wishful thinking and flogging a dead horse.

      1. Gary

        Im an american and I disagree with your view. Dont forget who freed Europe in World War 2. Either you would have been speaking German, that s Nazi Germany or possibly Russian. How,easily people forget. And not all americans vote to have our military go to war in the Middle East. Blame the rich politicians and the corporations who .support them. A new world order of the rich and the poor. I had a career in the military and I DONT vote to go to WAR.

  5. ballard

    “One of the more interesting aspects of the European cover-up of mass sex assaults by so-called refugees is that it abets abuse inflicted on Muslim women as well. Before the story of the Cologne attacks broke, Katin Bennhold of the New York Times wrote a piece on the abuse of refugee women on the migrant trail.”

    And before that there were the mass sexual assaults in Tahrir Square, in Egypt….

    Yet the warnings sounded in Egypt were ignored in the West even after a movie was made out of it.

    “During the 2006 Eid el-Fitr holiday, groups of young men who were turned away from a sold out movie at a cinema in the downtown area went on a mass sexual harassment spree, attacking women and girls (Ilahi 2008). What made this event significant is the fact that it was caught on video by mobile phones and was widely broadcasted via YouTube by prominent Egyptian bloggers, such as Wael Abbas and Malek X …

    In December 2010, the popular movie 678 was released, which was the first feature film produced in Egypt that focused on taḥarrush as a problem for women in public spaces.”

    https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2016/1/12/stand-by-for-collision/?singlepage=true

    But…but…but..you can’t rape the willing.

    Strictly speaking, the women of Europe have been insufficiently welcoming to their refugee saviours.

    1. jsn

      Libya isn’t close enough, for proper Shock Doctrine “improvements” the NeoLibs need a failed state in Europe proper.

      1. visitor

        Suggestions for failed states in Europe are Kosovo and Ukraine. Macedonia, Moldavia, Transnistria, and Montenegro deserve a mention but are not yet there.

        No failed states in the EU proper, though.

  6. susan the other

    Watching the EU fail has been painful. They started out with such a simplistic plan – to agree to unite in a market controlled by the euro – like the unspoken assumption was that if they were united economically it would be as good as “shared sovereignty”. But we see now when it comes to debt or any unexpected obligation that each “member” is on its own – there is no shared sovereignty – and there is no shared economy either. It’s a cautionary tale – because even a country like ours which does have sovereignty can fall into a state of lost cooperation. Cooperation makes a government work just like it makes a currency work and an economy work. In the EU it has disappeared with astonishing speed. And we see proof that a currency has no effect on forcing cooperation in a state of inequality.

  7. Ranger Rick

    We’re seeing the weakness of the EU’s “confederation of states” policies. One of the biggest reasons the United States dropped the Articles of Confederation and went federal is the inability to protect its own borders. When one state is expected to act on behalf of the whole, it’s important for it to know that it has the backing of the rest, but in the EU that is not only impossible but a guaranteed stab in the back.

  8. alex morfesis

    Tsipras does a patton by september…anyone with a brain will suspect the german dog whistle to syrians, libyans, Iraqi’s and afghanis that “make your way thru greece to wonderful germany” may have been an overt attempt to further confront and destabilize greece. Tsipras coalition partner is militaristic…by September Tsipras may have no real choice but to coordinate a non nato (new mato) group with Algeria, Egypt, Turkey and Italy (plus maybe Morocco and Spain) and go and physically stabilize the region by force…all those unemployed youth in greece have all been thru the military and are basically a large standing ready reserve…I hope and pray the do nothing “klowns that be” understand the danger of photo op meetings with non action agendas in the next few months on libya, syria and iraq…the bell tolls for theez…

    1. fajensen

      They will be running the camps ;-)

      The European left totally lost it’s purpose and sanity when the USSR collapsed. They soon found a placebo by always being in direct opposition against *whatever* “the right” happens to be *for*. Even when “the right” adopts old causes of the left or just advocates basic decency, “the left” is loudly against!

      This lack of free will and independent creative thinking tells me that most of what makes up “the left” are probably authoritarian followers at heart, they are passing time orbiting “the right” because they have not yet met a cause coherent enough to fill up their hollow selves with purpose and re-activate them. They cannot “move” on their own, but, once in motion they will go full Pol Pot on anyone.

  9. Robert Montrose

    The more i looked into the whole EU thing it seems like something sold by right wing finance to left wing academia under false pretenses.
    digi_owl

    We’re seeing the weakness of the EU’s “confederation of states” policies. One of the biggest reasons the United States dropped the Articles of Confederation and went federal is the inability to protect its own borders. When one state is expected to act on behalf of the whole, it’s important for it to know that it has the backing of the rest, but in the EU that is not only impossible but a guaranteed stab in the back.
    Ranger Rick

    Funny you should say that, the US Constitution was also motivated a lot by business and proto-financial interests, especially after Shay’s Rebellion. The benefits that EU integration provides (not the benefits of added EU policy, which could be implemented on a national level anyway) to the ordinary worker/employee, such as border-free travel and the ability to use one’s usual currency during said travel, easier and cheaper access to internal and external imports, are relatively minute in comparison to the benefits to capital. The ability to move money around with total ease and freedom, only having to deal with one regulatory regime instead of numerous different ones, no tariffs, a single industrial standard, these are all commercial benefits.

    In good times, the EU alleges that these benefits trickle down in the form of jobs, wages, and prices. But since capital is still firmly at the helm of the European project, when things turn sour, they still demand their quantity of sugar. We saw what that did to Greece, where the democratic impetus of the Greek people was totally crushed under the feet of Brussels-organized capital.

    The Devil eventually, one way or another, demands his due. Just remember that next time someone comes promising shiny baubles in exchange for some part of your individual or collective liberty.

    P.S.: Word to the wise; it’s generally a bad idea to allow people to include raw, unprocessed HTML in blog comments.

  10. ballard

    Pro-immigration arguments sound surprisingly like pro-colonialist arguments

    “Have you heard a familiar ring to the arguments for accepting mass immigration or massive waves of refugees?

    First there is the plea to do the moral thing. Pope Francis provided one such plea this week. “Hers is the plea of thousands of people who weep as they flee horrific wars, persecutions, and human rights violations, or political or social instability, which often make it impossible for them to live in their native lands.” The message is almost flattering, in the way it says, “It’s terrible out there.”

    In the speech where she made Germany into Europe’s leading destination for refugees and migrants last year, Angela Merkel said, “If Europe fails in this refugee crisis, it betrays its founding principles.” Notably, the nations that neighbor Syria are not addressed in this solemnly moral way. We’ll get to that in a moment.

    On the other hand, immigration is just too good for us to pass up. It helps the middle class! It raises GDP. On integrating refugees into Europe, Angela Merkel adverted: “If we do it well, it will have more advantages than disadvantages.” The Economist is even more blunt, “Europe can and should do better (at welcoming refugees). And not just for moral reasons but for selfish ones, too.”

    You see, humanitarianism doesn’t require the mortification of our desires or laying aside our own self-interest. Call this impulse to welcome “selfish humanitarianism,” if you like. But the reality is that these arguments are just the funhouse images of justifications for European and American imperialism. Mass immigration is now the White Man’s Burden.

    The old colonialism sent “the white man” all over the the world looking for raw materials that could be brought to European cities to be “finished” into manufactured goods and sold to the benefit of everyone. Even stealing these resources was justified if they were not being efficiently exploited by their native owners. If distasteful foreign customs could be squashed — like banning the practice of “widow burning” in India — so much the better.

    The new form of colonialism tells us on the one hand that we can increase global welfare by accepting more immigrants, but it talks about them in the same language of underdeveloped resources that were used to justify imperial exploitation.
    “Immigration is the quintessential supply-side policy,” The Economist informs us. Just as we are told that accepting mass immigration is necessary for recognizing the immigrants’ humanity, that very humanity is displaced as immigrants are reclassified as “human capital” that the West can cream from the Third World. And the West does: One of every nine Africans with a tertiary diploma is currently living in an OECD nation. Does The Economist ever ask whether this extraction of human capital is good for the nations that the immigrants depart? The assumption is that this human capital is more efficiently used elsewhere, for our benefit.

    And of course, the new form of reverse colonialism puts the West in the position of teacher and instructor. In an editorial trying to contain the damage from the wave of sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve, The Economist said Europe must covert the heathen, not just for the cause of Christianity but for the general peace of Christendom. Just kidding. Instead they said that to ensure security Europe must “insist [migrants] respect values such as tolerance and sexual equality.” The imperial emphasis on teaching good behavior is still there. A smartphone app promoted to refugees and migrants got a little tweak last week. According to Quartz, “an article on gender equality was added after a mass assault against women in Cologne.” We’ll egalitarianize them!

    The Economist reminds one of President William McKinley agonizing over the accident of America becoming the imperial guardian of the Philippines. He told General James Rusling, “there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God’s grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow-men for whom Christ also died.” Never mind that the Jesuits had baptized Filipinos centuries earlier. Of course, all this uplift and civilizing led to one of America’s most dishonorable wars.

    Even Pope Francis admits that there are other factors to consider when letting in immigrants. “Equally significant are fears about security, further exacerbated by the growing threat of international terrorism.” If you don’t like the increased crime and disorder that results from selfish humanitarianism, The Economist has a suggestion: “Security cameras in public places would make it easier to convict those who hide in crowds — Germans should overcome their queasiness about such surveillance.” Just get over your fears about the surveillance state!

    That’s another funny similarity. Arguments for colonialism and for mass immigration can both act as arguments for further subsidies to the military and domestic spy agencies respectively. The mission civilisatrice of colonialism required gunships and land armies. Occasionally the new one requires a massive surveillance state at home, first to catch the occasional new arrival who is a scofflaw, but just as importantly, to prevent the natives from saying what they are thinking about it all on social media.

    The old colonialism eventually died under violence from revolting colonies, and exposure at home as a policy that benefited incumbent interests, not the entire nation. Perhaps the same will happen again. It’s not hard to imagine that rising nations like Nigeria will one day start to fight to keep the citizens they spend the most money educating from emigrating, and thereby subsidizing the older, dying, resource-hungry West.”

    http://theweek.com/articles/600150/proimmigration-arguments-sound-surprisingly-like-procolonialist-arguments

  11. Lou

    @ Fajensen
    “We Europeans are the poodle of the US”
    It depends. It’s true that we now are the poodle of the US (see Syria or Ukraine).
    It wasn’t’ the case ten years ago. Chirac and Schroeder opposed the Irak war (although other europeans leaders went along with the US). ISIS probably wouldn’t exists without the Irak war.

    @ Foy
    While the thought ‘you broke it, you own it’ is morally correct, history says that ideal of ownership of the problem will never happen in the real world. Morals don’t exist in geopolitics. I’m sorry to say that unfortunately expecting this solution is wishful thinking and flogging a dead horse.

    I’m well aware this will never happen. So do the people around me (we are no fools). This simply aggravates “anti-americanism”.

    @ballard
    Totally agree

    Regards,
    Lou

  12. Frank

    The author manages to name Germany exactly once, and only in combination with France. The author is totally clueless about what is going on. The refugee crisis is all about Germany, and how it plays out will be determined in Germany, and only in Germany. The EU institutions are quite irrelevant, and any analysis primarily talking about the EU misses the point entirely. The refugees all go to Germany because Angela Merkel basically invited them to do so in september 2015. To the public and in particular by Angela Merkel it has been presented as a moral duty. But there is another crucial aspect to it as well. Germany has a stagnant population, but a booming economy. In todays (January 26) Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung (FAZ), we can read:

    Ein Lohnabschlag wäre fair, sagt David Folkerts-Landau, der Chefökonom der Deutschen Bank. Deutschland könne durch die vielen Zuwanderer eine Blüte erleben wie im 19. Jahrhundert.

    Which means, translated in English:

    A wage reduction would be fair, says David Folkers-Landau, Chief Economist of the Deutsche Bank. Germany can experience a period of large economic growth like at the end of the 19th century thanks to the many immigrants

    Clearly, as long as large sections of the economic establishment in Germany believe that it is profitable to have many new refugees coming in, to keep wages low and have new workers for a booming economy, no one is going to take effective action to stop the refugees reaching Germany. Other countries (like Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, etc.) will take effective action keeping them away from their country. But the essence of the “Migration Crisis” is that Germany is going its own way.

    P.S. Here is the link to the quote above:

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