The mini-summit of 16 held in Brussels on Sunday was like a workshop in which pupils were asked to find an easy solution to a difficult problem: in this case, how to respond to the refugee crisis.
One of them imagined massive transfers of migrant populations from the EU to Africa, where huge camps would be built. It sounded radical, but probably that’s why many other pupils liked it. But the teacher said this is against EU rules, because it amounts to push-back, prohibited by international law.
Another pupil imagined closed disembarkation facilities similar to prisons, so that migrants would be vetted, and those who do not qualify for asylum sent back promptly where they came from. But another pupil said he didn’t like the idea of building prisons. Others too frowned at the idea of prisons.
A third said migrants should be divided between several countries as soon as they arrive, without waiting for the vetting process. Others said it would be unfair to send economic migrants. A fourth pupil said the best way was to build a fence across the Mediterranean Sea. The teacher, who didn’t want to discourage anyone, said the idea wasn’t bad but might be slightly difficult to implement.
In the end, the teacher commended the pupils for their creative thinking, said the next class will be on 28-29 June, and told them to keep being creative in preparing their homework.
He also promised that the school will fund the best project. All pupils were happy because the discussion was fun and they could repeat their ideas at home, claiming that they had won praise at school.
Unfortunately, this parody gingerly reflects the way EU decision making is today.
Lots of things remain unclear following the mini-summit, but what is obvious is that EU migration and asylum policies can no longer be decided at 28, or 27. It’s also clear that the European Parliament, which has adopted clear ideas about the reform of the Dublin asylum system, is totally disregarded.
It also means that the Commission has suffered a setback, its policy of mandatory relocations having obviously failed and being abandoned. It means the reform of the Dublin system is “mission impossible” by the 28-29 June summit, and that intergovernmental agreements will replace EU legislation.
Certainly, this will have an impact on the EU’s capacity to stand united on other major issues. Intergovernmental agreements on migration and asylum also threaten the integrity of the EU’s internal border-free Schengen zone.
The mini-summit parody occurred only because Angela Merkel has been put under pressure, not by the German opposition but by her closest political ally.
Actually, the EU does not have a major problem with migration. It has a political problem with its own populations, or rather the populations have a problem with their leaders, which is called lack of trust, and which the pampered political class stubbornly refuses to address.
It may be easier to build a fence across the Mediterranean than to regain trust.
By Alexandra Brzozowski
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Look out for…
The General Affairs Council meets in Luxembourg tomorrow to discuss the highly contentious topics of Brexit state of play and the 2018 enlargement package to be voted on during this week’s European Council. Look also out for the Article 7 hearing on the rule of law in Poland.
World Cup Watch
Poland is the first European team to use its return ticket home. Meanwhile, Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri face bans over their political goal celebrations. Swedish footballer Durmaz fouled in the last minute, leading to a free kick and victory goal for Germany and is now facing a media buzz. Bad news: from tomorrow on, the pain of watching two games simultaneously is real.
Matches tomorrow: AUS-PER | DEN-FRA | NGR-ARG | ISL-HRV
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