All progress made for the political union of Europe originated in crises caused or worsened by disagreements between Member Countries. Although when facing the ups and downs of the integration process it’s always a matter of removing the causes of the crisis first, the solution always presumes the improvement of Community procedures and institutions, so that the political system of the European Union may improve and grow stronger, following the direction of federal principles. It is not the case of the efforts made to face the ongoing crisis, which has not yet been overcome.
The so-called “refugee-emergency”, which is probably the most serious crisis of European integration process in the past 65 years, has an impact on the EU and on citizens of Member Countries, especially in terms of a crisis in consensus and confidence, or, to be more precise, a solidarity crisis.
Nation-States’ selfishness, coupled by the ensuing lack of solidarity, prevent the implementation of a fundamental, urgent political reform in the area of asylum and refugees.
In the wake of months-long controversies, recriminations, national initiatives to the detriment of neighbours and of the EU as a whole, at the summit of March 17-18 heads of the Government and State found a temporary solution to handle the negative consequences of uncontrolled flows of refugees from Turkey through the Aegean Sea and the Balkans to Europe. The agreement is centred on a deal with Turkey, which accordingly, pledges to accept all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece. The agreement –whose initial effects are being experienced now – is strongly criticized from various quarters, most notably by humanitarian aid and human rights organizations, as well as by dignitaries of the Church. To send back those fleeing from war in a state of desperation, who have made all possible efforts and run all the risks, after having reached the destination of their safe haven in a Country like Turkey, marked by serious flaws in terms of democracy and rule of the law, is an outright absurdity. However,
when evaluating the deal with Turkey it should be considered that it is the result of a compromise.
The repatriation of refugees in Turkey will end dangerous sea crossings towards the Greek islands organized by criminal organizations in flimsy vessels, where hundreds of people have already died. Moreover, the consistent funding made available by the EU will provide significant contribution for the improvement of the care and living conditions of some 3 million refugees, some of whom have already been living in Turkey for years. Finally, in exchange for the refugees brought back from Greece to Turkey, an equal number of refugees from Syria (72 thousand according to the deal) present in Turkey today, will have the opportunity of entering the European Union through legal channels. This will make it possible to welcome, host, and cure in an adequate way all persons arriving in Countries of the European Union. The need for security will be met through accurate, regular registration of the refugees welcomed inside the States.
The condition for the success of this complex project, launched at the beginning of April, is Member States’ availability to welcome Syrian refugees transferred from Turkey.
Ensuring further development of EU structures and capacities requires the consensus of the responsible parties, while joint action is necessary to make the Union’s external borders secure, as a condition to ensure the opening of European internal borders, as provided for under the Schengen Agreement. Such security measures entail the establishment or the strengthening of police or military units within the currently inadequate Frontex police border agency.
Hence the EU will grow and strengthen its ability to fight the root causes of the exodus of many millions of people, that is, its diplomatic – and possibly – military efforts for conflict resolution, as well as its ability to help overcome famine and other catastrophes in the territories beyond the Mediterranean through international cooperation.
In the short term however, it is necessary to adopt a binding, joint regulation on refugees and asylum. In fact, the Dublin agreements, which evidently were based on the wrong assumptions, with an unjust approach, have proven to be totally inadequate.