A never ending (Migrant) Crisis in EU

June 2017

A never ending (Migrant) Crisis – Human lives at stake of European political drama

On Tuesday 13th, the European Commission expressed itself in favour of starting a formal Infringement Procedure against Hungary, Poland and Czech Republic for the non-fulfilment of the migrant relocation scheme. This is the last act inside a real European drama started on 2015 with the Commission decision to relocate among Member States 160.000 migrants arrived in Italy and Greece.

This decision, unique in its genre, officially broke up with the pre-existing Dublin Convention which stated that the country responsible of processing the asylum request of illegal migrants is the one in which the migrant first entered. This short-sighted provision overloaded border countries (mostly Greece and Italy but also Spain and Bulgaria) during the 2015-2016 pick of migrant arrivals, more than one million men, women and children escaping from wars and famines, all around African and Middle Eastern countries.

Out of 160.000 migrants, only 21.000 have been relocated inside other European countries (IMO data). The clear failure of “Quotas solution” is due to both European and national deadlocks which blocked the effectiveness of the relocation scheme.

At European level, the stalemate already came out inside the “Justice and Home Affairs” meeting, where the Commission’s proposal was discussed during Summer 2015. Visegrad Group (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia), mostly leaded by right or nationalist parties, expressed themselves against the proposal, reaffirming their right of sovereignty over migration and asylum policies. Due to the political and public pressure, instead of trying to reach the unanimity, the proposal was put on vote, with the consequence that Hungary, Check Republic and Poland (and Romania) outvoted what they consider an undemocratic decision and refused to accept any migrants of the relocation scheme (except Romania, who – at the end – has applied the disposition) opening the first case of civil disobedience inside the Union.

As usual, national contexts explain the harsh fight of Visegrad Group against the relocation scheme. All these three countries ruling parties should face close elections (Czech Republic: October 2017, Hungary: Spring 2018 and Poland: 2019). Anti-migrant campaign has been among the biggest focus of their electoral campaign, while the resistance over what is considered a “European diktat” responds to the need of fuelling nationalistic feelings among the electorate. Moreover, the populist propaganda is hitting hard any appeal to solidarity by wrongly linking the past’s terroristic attacks to the migration flow.

The consequence has been a huge deadlock covering both supranational and national issues: from the legal basis of the European competence over a classical national competence area, such as the asylum and migration flow regulation to the very local fight of power inside each Member States Parliament. All framed inside the highest pick of arrivals inside European shores that is not even showing sign of decreasing.

However, the political drama occurred during these years is going to face new scenarios due to the very recent changes inside the European political arena. In 2015, we saw a weak and divided Union, in which even big and traditionally pro-Europe countries, such France, struggled to respect and implement the relocation scheme decision due to the far right and populist threat. Nowadays, things have changed and euro-sceptic parties have suffered big defeat all along Europe, from Finland to Italy, from France to UK. Is it a case that the Commission decision to take actions against the deliberate civil disobedience of Hungary, Czech Republic and Poland (even if it has been already announced) came after France and Britain elections? Probably it is not.

With all probability, the right of the Union to impose its decision will be confirmed by the European Court of Justice, consulted by the outvoting countries themselves. Maybe we won’t have to wait up to that day for seeing some changes of mind inside the disobedient countries.