5 myths regarding the current refugee and migration crisis
By Pieter Cleppe
- Five myths regarding the current refugee and migration crisis
- The EU should consider the Australian approach on migration
- We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse
During the current refugee and migration crisis, a number of myths, often propagated to serve all kind of agendas, continue to hinder the search for solutions. Here is an attempt to debunk five of them.
1. “The solution is to force countries to take in refugees and spread them across Europe” ...
2. “The solution is to end Schengen or increase EU border controls” ...
3. “The solution is to get rid of the Dublin arrangement” ...
4. “The solution is to harmonise EU asylum policy” ...
5. “Welcoming more immigrants is a necessary tool to save Europe’s struggling welfare states” ...
So what’s the alternative?
Few would disagree with Irish rock star Bono, who said: “Aid is just a stopgap (…) Commerce [and] entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty than aid. We need Africa to become an economic powerhouse.” Also, closer cooperation with non-EU countries and perhaps the Australian approach can be part of the solution, as we have argued with Open Europe.
The question is whether we really should wait for such long term solutions to take effect. In the years to come, many will still be trying to make it to Europe, and should we blame them? Who would like to live in Syria, these days? It’s equally wrong to plainly dismiss concerns of European voters, who have witnessed on the ground that integrating large groups of people with a different cultural background is not without problems.
I have suggested myself to welcome refugees voluntarily in a “free haven” outside of the EU, where officials from richer countries would safeguard law and order to allow an economy to develop. Multinationals may prefer to host expensive production plants in these zones run by officials of countries with a high level of rule of law, rather than in unstable places like Ethiopia or Pakistan. Similar proposals have been made by US business man Jason Buzi, who wants to give refugees their own “Refugee Nation” and Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris, the 10th richest man in Africa, who has offered to buy an island off Italy or Greece in order to rehouse hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Syria and other conflicts.
If you want to help refugees, but you can’t or don’t want to help them within Europe, you need to help them outside of Europe. An agreement with third countries would be necessary for this. Unrealistic? The EU is this year launching a pilot project to develop a number of “temporary” reception centers in Niger, while France and Germany support opening similar centres in Egypt, Turkey or Lebanon. Given that nothing is so permanent as a temporary government programme, the EU may as well send police and justice personnel to these nascent EU refugee camps, similar to what it did in Kosovo.
I don’t want to simply blame politicians for not coming up with more ambitious and effective solutions, given that this isn’t an ordinary crisis which is easy to solve. But precisely because of that, we need solutions which go beyond ordinary management and more of the same. At least Belgian centre-left daily De Morgen supports my proposal, writing that it “is an unexpected, unheard proposal. But awaiting peace and prosperity in the Middle East, this looks like it’s going to be a crisis which can only be dealt with in an unexpected, unheard-of manner.