On Thursday the 9th of June, Carnegie Europe organized a high level expert meeting at the Clingendael Institute on the future of EU’s migration policies.
The migration crisis is recognized as one of the most difficult crises the EU is facing, not only today, but also on the longer term. Looking at the structural push factors in third countries - such as climate change, conflict, insecurity, inequality and population growth - there will be no easy, quick-fix solutions to end this multifaceted crisis. To find a long term strategy on migration, the Union needs to formulate a proper diagnosis of the root causes and the lessons learned from past policies. Yet, a deeper analysis that goes to the heart of the union’s difficulties, dysfunction and disillusion – that explains why the union itself seems on the verge of collapse – is still missing. Therefore, Pierre Vimont[i], senior associate at Carnegie Europe, organized in cooperation with the Clingendael Institute a high level expert meeting to glare into the abyss of the migration crisis.
The various insights of high level experts from think tanks, the Council of the EU, the European External Action Service and the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of security and justice, have led to a highly successful meeting. On the one hand, the experts offered a glimmer of hope: Despite the fragility of the EU-Turkey deal, the number of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Greece are drastically going down. According to UNHCR, this year approximately 248 000 of the expected 1 million refugees will travel between Greece and Turkey. By first stopping and controlling the migration flows to Europe, the EU seeks to find sufficient support for new measures. The EU’s increased understanding for the position and support of member states and its reluctance to enforce actions stems from i.a. the negative experience with imposing a qualified majority vote on the relocation mechanism.
On the other hand, the expert meeting also addressed some serious deficiencies of EU’s response to the refugee crisis: the slow crumbling of the Schengen area, limited police cooperation and counterterrorism efforts, the reappearance of border controls and the suspension of the EU’s Dublin regulation on asylum applications. In addition, the EU is struggling to deal with the turmoil in its neighbourhood (no initiative towards Syria) and the situation in the refugee camps in the region. Furthermore, member states find it difficult to implement (and find public support for) EU’s migration measures, which leads to limited results but also rising tensions among member states.[ii] While dealing with this range of problems and the short term urgency to deliver results, the EU measures to solve the migration crisis carry the risk of losing out of sight a long term strategy. So far, the EU has proven to be effective in slowing down the flow of refugees coming to Europe, but is still struggling to deal with the root causes of the migration crisis. Old discussions about the importance of a differentiated approach to EU’s neighbourhood countries, seem forgotten when looking at the range of countries participating in the New Migration Partnership Framework - launched by the European Commission last week.[iii]Consequently, the EU could still learn from its previous efforts to create a stable and prosperous neighbourhood.
[i] In June 2015, Pierre Vimont was appointed personal envoy of the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to lead the preparations for the Valletta Conference between EU and African countries, to tackle causes of illegal migration and combat human smuggling and trafficking.
[ii] For instance, only 82 million has been contributed by member states to the Africa Trust Fund so far, while they promised to deliver 1,8 billion during the Valletta summit last November.
[iii] Selected countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia
Also read the following articles (in Dutch) in the Internationale Spectator: De Migratieagenda van de Europese Commissie, 10-puntenplan voor een ander grensbeleid and Migratie en ontwikkeling in Afrika.