In recent months the image of the European Union has been overshadowed by the inability to find a valid common answer to the recurring tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea. Hundreds of people fleeing from the Middle East and from Africa are drowning in the attempt of reaching European shores, in the hope of a better life, a life of peace. They are escaping from wars and violence, from hunger and social misery. It’s understandable that powerless spectators, in Europe and elsewhere seek a “culprit” in the attempt to overcome their dismay before the refugees’ tragedies and the high numbers of victims, that is found with excessive rapidity. But since there is no intention to pursue the obvious cause of the mass exodus towards Europe, namely, the Lords of War, evidently considered the nameless executors of devastating forces of nature sparked off within internal Arab and Muslim armed conflicts, the European Union is deemed the sole culprit. The EU is particularly fitting to this role. Right-wing and left-wing populists have always branded the EU as the cause of all possible disasters, of economic and social crises and of all other major problems that are hard to solve. The European Union – or, as often happens with a generous generalization, Europe as a whole – has been accused of not doing enough to save the refugees and for the absence of policies that may give the survivors a new, safe homeland. Those seeking a new place to live and a job were rejected, or bureaucratic hurdles – or other kinds of obstacles – were placed along their way. All the efforts made by institutional and government leaders in favor of refugees are criticized for being inadequate and a failure of the European Union. Of course, such criticism is not totally devoid of foundation. But the shock for the ongoing tragedies is not a good counselor, nor does it provide answers to the question on what should be done and how. Indignation for the lack of solutions, or for their inappropriateness is equally useless. Criticizing the incapacities, the omissions and the inertia of the European Union doesn’t correspond to reality as it cannot be deemed responsible for circumstances over which nobody has the power to change. Indeed, Member States’ governments have constantly denied the possibility for the European Union to have a role in terms of migration, asylum and assistance of refugees and do what is necessary. Including the European Union among the accused exempts member States’ governments from their own responsibilities, guilty of stripping the EU of the tools and measures needed to carry out a joint European action, while they refuse to take on responsibilities for implementing targeted actions. The latter reject abidance to a common policy on the delicate questions at stake for the fear that their national interests may no longer be taken into due consideration, although the real fear is to loose the voters’ approval owing to unpopular policies. The question on how the European Union or its member States should – and could – address the wave of migrants arriving from southern and south-east countries in political terms, doesn’t only involve saving desperate people from perishing at sea. In also involves the question of reception and social integration of desperate people who arrive not only by sea but also – in large numbers – by crossing the lands of Eastern and Southern Europe. In proportion to the costs for the rescue of migrants at sea, the former is a much greater challenge, implying significantly higher material and social costs, which only few of the 28 Member Countries contribute to. It’s the challenge of the future, which cannot be handled with supranational efforts alone, and which will not be solved in the short term. European citizens, whether willingly or not, should face the fact that owing to developing globalization and asymmetrical demographic trends in Africa and Europe – as already occurred with the Great Migration of the late antiquity -recurring migration waves bring about ever greater transformations within Europe’s ethnic and cultural landscape. This is what Europe and its Member States, and European citizens in particular, should be prepared for. They will be expected to show greater humanity, solidarity and responsibility, compared to today. Now the Juncker Commission has proposed a global action on migration. This is a new testing ground for the common, responsible action of EU Countries on this front.
The European Union can't manage migration flows? Solutions must be sought in national governments' decisions