One of the European Union’s fundamental values is solidarity. To quote Jean-Claude Juncker in the State of the Union Address in September 2016: “I am convinced much more solidarity is needed. […] It must come from the heart. It cannot be forced.” Almost one year later it can be stated, that there is still not enough solidarity among the European Union states. Or otherwise there would have been more support for Italy in the last months, when refugees leaving from Libya arrived on Italian coasts every day. But what points does the European Commission have, to handle the situation? “Two years on migration” published by the EC gives an insight on the agenda for the next years.
When it comes to dealing with the refugee situation in Europe, the member countries need to work in three different aspects: First, reducing the causes for migration outside the EU, second, managing the situation at the EU’s borders, and last of course, the allocation of refugees inside the Union.
Humanitarian Aid in unstable countries is essential to prevent people from leaving their home countries. The European Union provides financial help for Syria worth of 6.8 billion Euro, to provide access water for two million people, food for almost one million people, and protection programs for two million children. Far more important would be to support Syria’s neighbor countries, like Lebanon and Jordan, since Bashar Al-Assad and the civil war are the major reasons for Syrian people to leave their country. Those measures will only work in the Middle East (if they do work), but for the situation in 2017, development aid must be also given to African countries, such as Libya. One idea by German minister of development Gerhard Müller is the “Marshall-plan with Africa”, a concept which should improve on the rule of law, and also lower corruption in some states. Encouraging European investment in African states is another goal by the EU, such as support for African companies with EU funds, to be able to provide for workplaces, and thus a perspective, in African countries.
To cope with the refugee situation, it is also important do improve the situations at the EU’s borders. “Tripled EU presence at sea, to save lives and dismantle trafficking networks” is one of the goals published in the report, but with the recent events in August 2017, it is clear that the objective has been changed. Now the EU supports Libya’s military to prevent refugees from leaving Libyan waters, the states clearly want to give away their responsibility. The argument is, that if there are no more refugees arriving European mainland, the situation looks better. This is not only inhumane, but also very shortsighted by the European Union. Apart from that, it is absolutely necessary, that countries where most of the refugees arrive, get support by other European countries, as Juncker mentioned. Italy, Greece, Bulgaria are countries who need to get financial emergency assistance for infrastructural measures to cope with arriving refugees. But this can only be a first step, the second step needs to be a better redistribution of refugees inside the EU.
Redistributing refugees could be the most difficult task, because it demands a strong and united European Union. All states have to act together on this issue, to achieve a better integration. But for instance, the countries of the Visegrád Group still refuse any kind of quota system for migrants in the EU. As Jean-Claude Juncker has mentioned, solidarity cannot be forced, it has to come from the heart. But in order to get all countries behind one idea, the European Union may have to force countries like Hungary or Poland to be more solidary.
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