On Tuesday evening, we took a preliminary look at what the EU’s worsening migrant crisis might mean for the receiving countries in Western Europe. In short, Goldman has suggested that “in order to maintain current levels of retirees/working age population ratios in 2025, immigration rates in Western Europe need to be 7x-8x higher than current run rate (based on UN estimates).” That, coupled with country-specific considerations, could mean that there is indeed a silver lining to what has generally been portrayed in the media as a disastrous people flow that threatens to undermine EU solidarity and strain EMU budgets.
Regardless of how one chooses to view the situation, it’s clear that Europe desperately needs to put together some manner of coherent strategy lest an abject failure to adequately address the droves of desperate asylum seekers should go down in history as (another) black mark upon the EU’s record which is already stained by the Greek bailout debacle and, in the case of EMU nations, general concerns about the viability of the entire euro project.
On Wednesday we got a look at Europe’s latest attempt to establish a quota system, a day after German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said his country could take at least 500,000 asylum seekers per year. Here’s WSJ with the admittedly sparse details of the ad hoc “plan”:
The European Union on Wednesday proposed redistributing 160,000 refugees across the bloc and speeding up procedures to send back those who don’t qualify for asylum, in a bid to improve a stuttering response to the largest wave of migration on the continent since the aftermath of World War II.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has been pushing for an EU-wide plan to take on the crisis, called the proposal a good start, but said it doesn’t go far enough to address the continuing flow.
The bloc has struggled to put together a coherent approach amid competing national interests and insistence by some countries—particularly in the poorer east—that taking in refugees must be voluntary.
The new plans, which have to be approved by a majority of EU governments, are the second attempt by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to help Greece, Italy and Hungary, the three countries on the front line of the crisis.
Most EU countries—excluding the U.K., Denmark and Ireland, who have opt-outs from Europe’s common asylum system—would have to take in a total of 160,000 refugees who have already arrived in Italy, Greece and Hungary, under the program, which the European Commission would fund at a cost of €780 million.
“This has to be done in a compulsory way,” Mr. Juncker said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The Commission has proposed the redistribution over the next two years and the introduction of a permanent system in which any country can ask for help when it is faced with a sudden influx.
The number of people to be redistributed, and the duration of the redistribution program, are to be determined by the European Commission on a case-by-case basis
“Europe today is an island of hope for the people in the Middle East fleeing war and oppression. This is something to be proud of, not something to fear,” Juncker said.
The European Commission is proposing to put Turkey and the Balkan countries on a list of “safe countries of origin,” which would fast-track repatriation for people denied asylum. In the past few years, thousands of nationals from these countries filed for asylum in Western Europe but many of them have seen their claims turned down.
Yes, "safe" countries of origin, like Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has plunged his people into civil war with the blessing of Washington and NATO, where dozens are killed daily, and where insulting the President at your own relative’s funeral will get you thrown in jail.
And because there are "safe" countries of origin that must mean there’s a list of "unsafe" countries of origin, which we can only assume includes Syria, which Europe will make safer by bombing it.
So while the West is to be applauded for any serious attempt to accommodate desperate asylum seekers fleeing their war-torn homelands, it’s to be indicted (if only in the court of public opinion) for its role in causing those wars, and on that note, we’ll close with what we said on Tuesday evening:
One should be careful not to miss the tragic irony inherent in France's suggestion that the proper response to the current refugee crisis is for the French military to bomb Syria. That either represents an utter inability on the part of the French government to understand the West's role in destabilizing Syria in the first place, or, more likely, the latest example of how one way or another - via YouTube gas attack videos or via heart-wrenching pictures of desperate migrants fleeing the violence - the US and its allies are determined to find the right mix of propaganda to justify a ground incursion. And that's the real tragedy here: the pitiable plight of Syria's beleaguered masses will be used as an excuse to cause them still more pain and suffering.