The appetite of Europeans for new immigration has dropped significantly

The European Commission adopts the first proposals of its approach to improving the management of migration.

Questions:

1. How do you see the quota system, is this the right or at least partially right answer to immigration crisis we have?

2. The quota system is politically problematic, but if the EU member states do not have a political will to implement this proposal what about the big rhetoric that we have to solve the roots of the crisis? Do you think the EU will have a political will to look at the roots of the crisis, which at the end means helping to solve many big political and economical problems in European neighborhood?

Answers:

Christian KaunertProfessor of International Politics, University of Dundee

1. The quota system is essentially just one way to get more EU member states to take some responsibility for the refugee crisis we have currently. So far, only very few countries take much responsibility. In that sense, it goes in the right direction, potentially. However, the numbers discussed are really very small to make much of a difference. In North Africa and the wider Middle East, we have many millions of refugees that are all under threat. In so far, this proposal barely scratches the surface.

2. I don’t think EU member states currently have much political will to tackle the root of the crisis. Especially, the situation in Syria and Libya is terrible and not much has been done. I don’t have much hope that this will change soon, too many mistakes have already been made. Also, Europe is not big and strong enough to tackle this crisis alone. Much more needs to be done globally. Russian and China do not fulfil their global responsibility either for this….

Roxana BarbulescuPostdoctoral Research Fellow, European Neighbourhood Policy Chair, College of Europe

1. The quota system proposed mentions a resettlement of 20.000 of refugees from priority regional areas identified as being limited to the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the North Africa -all regions in the Southern neighbourhood. The resettlement seek is a step forward towards a durable solution to the crisis in the Mediterranean since it is set to ensure that less people risk their lives in dangerous trips across the Mediterranean and that the pressure on countries who provide for these refugees in reduced. This decision has been taken because on one hand, most of the application for asylum are received in Germany and Sweden, over 40% in just these two countries and far less in other member states not to mention the Central and Eastern states -although Bulgaria in an important exception. The second matter is that 20.000 refugees is very little if we consider that Turkey alone accommodates 1.6 million Syrian refugees or countries like Lebanon and Jordan who have not ratified the the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees host 1.2 million and 0.6 million Syrian refugees since the start of the war in Syria.

2. The quota is politically problematic because the appetite of Europeans for new immigration including that of refugees has dropped significantly other the last decade. If we look at the facts, the proposed quota system is set to ensure that larger states will take in more refugees than the smaller member states and that richer countries (calculated as higher GDP) will take in more refugees than the poorer countries. Some countries amongst which UK, France and Slovakia has openly spoke against the quota while Germany, who currently received most refugees has urges these member states to reconsider their position. It is also important to mention that the member states will not be left alone and a fund of 50 million euros has been established to fund the scheme. Considering all elements, even the largest quota will not exceed 3.600 (which is allocated to Germany), 2800 (France) or 2300 (Italy). By any measure, each member states’ quota remains small.

Mollie Gerver, PhD Candidate , London School of Economics

1. The quota system is an effective way of distributing the costs of processing asylum claims and integrating refugees. However, it is possible that a quota system will fail to protect refugees. States may simply reject asylum claims or genuine refugees, just to fill their yearly quota. This will not fairly distribute costs, nor protect refugees. However, if a quota system that distributed places for refugees equally – and not asylum seekers – then this could ensure that all European countries accept a fair share of the burden of refugee protection.

Nor does a quota system necessarily mean that all EU states must accept their share of the quota. A “quota trading” mechanism could allow EU states to trade their quotas in return for funds to other states. For example, France could pay Malta money to take all or part of France’s quotas, so that Malta had more funds to integrate those extra migrants in need of protection.

2. One problem is that the EU has contributed to a lot of the current political crises that has spurred an increase migration to the EU. For example, the increase in migration from Libya coincided with the beginning of the civil war, which was partially funded by EU support. More broadly, the EU needs to enforce arms trading within Africa, which includes the sale of weapons produced by the EU.

As for solving the economic problems in European neighborhood countries: migrants entering the EU may, in fact, help solve a lot of the economic problems in the EU neighborhood. When migrants live and work in high-income countries, they send back remittances, and this can strengthen the economies of the countries they have left behind. In 2014 alone, $436 billion were remitted from high-income to low-income countries. Allowing for migration to Europe, through legal and formal channels, can help strengthen foreign economies, which may stem irregular migration.

 

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