I couldn’t agree more with one sentence that was written by Dimitris Avramopoulus, the EU Commissioner on Migration. In “Europe’s migrants are here to stay” in Politico: “We must start to be honest with those citizens who are concerned about how we will manage migration”. The next step after writing these honest words where he admits to being helpless to stop/reduce coming migration flows should be his resignation as the EU Commissioner on Migration.
Clashing with EU’s President Donald Tusk, who on this issue is one of the few realists among eurocrats and in a recent letter contested the quota mechanism, Avramopoulus accused him of a lack of European solidarity; even though Tusk was behind closing the Balkan route in Macedonia, which decreased the pull factor of immigration to Greece.
First of all, communicating to the outer world the surrender of efforts to curb illegal migration is another pull factor as was Merkel’s ”Wir schaffen das” or BAMF’s advertisement of a nicely designed, smoothed asylum process, translated into Urdu, Arabic, Turkish etc. And its impact was not minor as now BAMF is trying to dispel the myths of Germany’s migrant paradise that it created three years ago.
Avromopoulus’ task is to protect European borders, yet he claims that there is no way to protect them against irregular migration. He says that fences will not protect against migration and neither will harsh words. Despite the factual evidence that delayed efforts to close the Balkan route and efforts to cooperate with the Libyan coast guard finally brought results. So maybe it is not the way he presents it.
Avramopoulus lacks the commitment to defend borders, lacks honesty and lacks vision. That makes him one of the last people for the position to manage long term migration processes into the EU.
Second, Avramopoulus invites the EU to “be honest” when he himself is not honest. Claiming that the EU has granted protection to 700,000 people and demanding that they will find homes on our continent he forgets to mention that asylum and any subsidiary protection are temporary and limited to the time when conditions for asylum exist. And recently we were told that the war in Syria is over and the terrorists have been defeated both by the Russians and the US. Isn’t now the time to talk about rebuilding Syria and the return of people to their homes? Not for Avramopoulus.
He is also dishonest when describing European societies as not accepting of migration and diversity at all. Even such opponents to the obligatory quota system like Poland or Czech there are quite strong and growing migrant communities i.e. Vietnamese or Ukrainian that are generally not objects of prejudice. There are no major complaints from Chinese, Hindu and South American people. But if you look at the statistics on average 55% of Europeans want to stop migration from Muslim countries. So that is prescribed as an honest dialogue with society?
The commissar also manipulates while writing an article in defense of the obligatory quota system where he mixes recent and expected migration flows from the “other side of the Mediterranean” and all the efforts to find solutions to curb them with a system for importing skilled labor to the European market. These are various migration flows: asylum, legal economic and illegal migration (call it irregular as you want). First they should be temporary, second there should be a policy connected to economy, third they should be avoided.
Third he lacks perspective as it comes to long term processes, which cannot be analyzed in a linear way. He repeats the common mistake of predicting that “Paris will be drowning in excrement as a result of public horse transport development”. The same way he portrays migration as “an economic and social imperative of our aging continent”. He does not consider that we are on the threshold of a technical revolution that will leave numbers of low qualified employees with a difficult perspective to find jobs in the new economy. It appears he didn’t notice that China opened its first human-less factory, or that transport giants are preparing for autonomous cars that will leave numbers of drivers jobless, but he also seems not to notice the giant shift within the GDP from industry and agriculture to services, that no longer makes unqualified workers a solution to the “aging continent”. Quite the opposite, they are a burden as you can see as Sweden increases the retirement age because of migrants. That explanation we will not find of course in any official report, but the predicted gap between the welfare state and current revenue is 59 billion SEK, whereas in 2016 migration costs just for accommodation and training were 56 billions SEK, and in 2020 the government foresees 72 billion SEK. Honest discussion.
Migration and mobility is of course the sign of the times in the XXI century but it has positive and negative effects. Second one should be avoided even with limiting migration. It is right that a lot is to be done on this issue and we should not exclude any options, including borders and turning boats back. There is a lot to do with neighboring countries and it is not an easy solution and with increasing demographic pressure certain solutions like hubs for migrants in North Africa can get out of control. Here we need an honest discussion about feasibility, about what we can achieve actually, what risk to undertake and which migration movements are welcomed. This is much needed instead of blinding various migration flows in one globalization driven increased mobility stream, which we are supposed to accept as a new normal.
Then there is the integration question, for decades avoided even criticized by multiculturalists, today we have the results. That is why we need an honest debate about such growing phenomena as nonviolent radical Islamists movements. But also about education results and if we can expect that job demands in various sectors will be satisfied. We need to freely discuss crime rates and how to change the situation and what the reasons are behind over-representation. We need this instead of hiding behind general descriptions of xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiments.
But Avramopoulus lacks the commitment to defend borders, lacks honesty and lacks vision. That makes him one of the last people for the position to manage long term migration processes into the EU. And if he is complaining that “recent discourse on migration – influenced by rising nationalism, populism and xenophobia – has limited our opportunities to put in place smart, forward-looking migration polices”, we can be sure that continuing with him in that position we can expect much more populism and nationalism on the rise. If we, as a society, have to be honest with ruling elites.
The Polish original: W sprawie imigracji nie udawajmy Greka.