As my dearest colleague Silvia Curbelo stated in a previous article, debates on EU migration have been catapulted to the front of the policy spectrum by the hand of the EU Greek council presidency, calling for a unified asylum system and a more coordinated management of border controls. However, the situation is far from reaching a consensus or solution. After the recent tragedies in the Mediterranean sea and Melilla’s fences, the Southern government called on all EU leaders to discuss the management of the everyday waves of migrants trying to reach EU soil.
Positions in the south are the following:
Nikolaos Dendias, Greek Minister of public order and citizen protection, has stated that “without safety and security we cannot have an economic recovery”. A politically correct way of suggesting that the illegal migration is a cause for the economic instability of the EU, and feeding an opportunist center-right anti-migrant sentiment prior the EP elections. A “defacto” criminalisation of the non-competitive nor productive migrant which – allow me to say – graciously upholds some resemblances to the Golden Dawn dogma. “We need a more integrated and effective management of the borders” said Dendias. But effective means more funding. The main difference is that the brunette nazis would have done it for free.
The Spanish Prime Minister also demands more money to replace and extend the illegal razor wire fences (note: the link leads to photos of a graphic nature) that surround the Spanish city of Melilla – officially they are to “passively dissuade migrants from attempting to jump the fence”, injuring and in some cases killing African migrants who have already hidden for months in the Moroccan mountains, hounded by Moroccan police. The internal affairs minister justifies this with the solid and shameless argument that if someone is selling it, it is due to its fully legal character.
In a shocked Italy, suffering in the aftermath of the Lampedusa tragedy – where 356 people died trying to reach EU soil – positions are divided. On the one hand, Minister Kyenge is trying to push for a more comprehensive migration policy. In the north, Lega Nord senior members – below the passive stare of a good portion of the Italian society and political spheres – literally throw bananas at her, shout at her like an orangutan, and design a systematic mobbing plan, simply because she is black.
Positions in the North are simply that as it is not a problem of their direct concern, they are reluctant to assimilate new migration flows, nor share the burden of southern countries by providing more money to agencies like FRONTEX. Indeed, the EU agency is under vigilance of several ONGs, such as the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). Angeliki Dimitriadis, a researcher at ELIAMEP argued that “There is a genuine concern regarding the exact role of the agency (Frontex), its activity and whether it is under control… it places too much emphasis on deterrence and despite having incorporated the Charter of Fundamental Rights, it does not accept that human rights violations in the area in which they carry out operations are its responsibility, claiming it is instead the responsibility of member states”, the European Union wants no responsibility. Northern EU countries have a young and cheap labour force coming from the Southern European countries to replenish their less protected job markets. Therefore they do not need a flow of immigrants which – under their point of view – would undermine their social and welfare systems, and Southern countries are stumbling like penguins, trying to realize how to walk in a straight line dealing with the issue.
Greek officials are pointing out that the issue is not only humanitarian, it is economic and political – and I agree. Nevertheless, Migration as a problem is rooted in the “reason de etre” of a Neo-liberal Fortress Europe. A Europe which needs to identify others as an enemy who are looking to create instability within the fortress. Barbarian hordes who have nothing to offer to the European society but chaos and fear. It is clear, and it has been through the ages, that the problem is based on an unfair economic and social model in the hands of a few, which fosters inequality and keeps the fortress like a wasp’s nest – in a constant state of frenzy. This is the real problem that EU citizens need to face.
EU policies for fighting migration focuses on readmission, fighting the smuggling and trafficking of human beings, and building capacity for border management, whilst allowing “legal” immigrants to help maintain cheap labour costs, increasing economic differences between Intra and Extra EU countries. None of these policies adequately address the genuine migration problem, and are only intended to strengthen the differences, the barriers, and the role of the “other” in EU politics. If EU politicians are reluctant to open fair redistributive mechanisms to compensate migrants, such as public education or public health availability, it is easy to realize what is going to be the policy outcome for the illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea in an inflatable boat: Death.