Heading to Essen for a debate today on confidence, values and European asylum and migration policy. For more information on the Mercator Salon see below.
In preparation I am updating my research on the invasion of Europe in 2018. I am coming across some shocking numbers, which must be shared.
Greece: August 2018 some 3,673 million people arrived. That is ~120,000 every day.
Spain: August 2018 saw 10.2 million people arrive. That is ~329,000 every day.
France: the Paris region alone saw 171 million people stay in hotels in the first half of 2018. That is ~945,000 every day.
Clearly the mainstream media are not doing enough to highlight these numbers. And have YOU seen the statistics showing how many crimes these hundreds of millions of people are responsible for? I have not either. It must be a conspiracy.
PS: Meanwhile, the total number of people who arrived irregularly per boat across the Mediterranean in the first nine months of 2018 – to Spain, Italy and Greece – was 81,000. This is 9,000 a month or 297 every day.
“Die Frage nach dem richtigen Umgang mit Einwanderung spaltet Europa. Viele Menschen sind nach dem sprunghaften Anstieg ein- und durchreisender Flüchtlinge und Migranten im Jahr 2015 verunsichert. Populistische Parteien werfen der Politik Versagen vor und geben vermeintlich einfache Antworten.
Wir möchten mit zwei Gestaltern von Migrationspolitik sprechen, die dennoch sagen: Wir schaffen das! Serap Güler und Gerald Knaus setzen sich auf unterschiedlichen Ebenen für eine Politik ein, die Einwanderung regelt, ohne Asylsuchende schlecht zu behandeln; die Migration und Asyl als Aufgaben begreift, die wir gemeinsam auf regionaler, nationaler und europäischer Ebene angehen müssen.
Warum setzen sie sich für eine humane und europäische Flüchtlingspolitik ein? Welche Praxisbeispiele geben ihnen Zuversicht, dass Politik und Gesellschaft die mit Migration verbundenen Herausforderungen meistern können? Wie versuchen sie, Menschen Ängste zu nehmen und Vertrauen in die Politik zurückzugewinnen?
Diese und weitere Frage möchten wir im Rahmen eines Mercator Salons gemeinsam mit Serap Güler, Staatssekretärin für Integration im Ministerium für Kinder, Familie, Flüchtlinge und Integration des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, und Gerald Knaus, Gründungsdirektor der Europäischen Stabilitätsinitiative (ESI) und einer der wichtigsten Impulsgeber für eine europäische Migrationspolitik, diskutieren. Moderiert wird die Veranstaltung von Michael Martens, Korrespondent der Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung in Athen.”
Last week I explored a few Schengen borders in Central Europe, cycling around Lake Constance: the border between Austria and Germany near Bregenz and Lindau. The border between Germany and Switzerland near Konstanz (Constance). And the invisible borders criss-crossing Germany’s largest lake.
This is what these borders look like in August 2018:
Border crossing from Germany to Austria: that’s it.
This bit of water marks the border between Austria and Germany. Seen from Austrian side.
This is the border between Germany and Switzerland. The towns on both sides have grown together. The train-station of Constance is used by both countries.
I will write more here about the reality of Schengen borders in Europe in 2018 soon.
I also gave a long interview, while in Constance, to the leading regional daily Südkurier; discussing what the reality of Schengen means for proposals to unilaterally close national borders (between Germany and Austria, say, or all around Germany): it is simply not possible without a dramatic intervention disrupting daily lives of millions massively. This, and more – Salvini’s theatrics, rescues at sea, hysteria and migration, what real crises are today, surprising facts such as “more people received international protection last year in Belgium than in Italy” I discuss in the interview below (in German, so you have to use google translate).
Migrationsexperte: Die Flüchtlingskrise wird von Hysterie geprägt
Gerald Knaus entwickelte das EU-Türkei-Flüchtlingsabkommen. Auf seiner Radreise entlang der Schengen-Grenzen treffen wir ihn in Konstanz. Im Gepäck hat er Ideen für Europas Asylpolitik.
Herr Knaus, Sie fahren zur Zeit mit dem Rad um den Bodensee. Verbinden Sie da Privates mit Beruflichem?
Es ist Urlaub in einer Region, in der einem viele Ideen kommen. Ansonsten arbeite ich im August im Bergdorf meines Großvaters im Bregenzerwald, am anderen Ende des Sees, schreibe Papiere und bereite eine Reise zum spanischen Außenminister vor. Hier am Bodensee schauen wir auch Grenzen an, bei Lindau etwa, und jetzt in Konstanz die Grenze zur Schweiz. Wir stellen uns dann vor, wie diese aussehen müsste, würde man hier versuchen irreguläre Migration nach Deutschland zu stoppen, so wie die CSU das im Juni vorgeschlagen hat.
Sie sind der Vordenker des EU-Abkommens mit der Türkei. Jetzt gibt es neue Flüchtlingsrouten übers Mittelmeer. Hat sich das Problem nur verlagert?
So wie der italienische Innenminister Matteo Salvini derzeit auftritt, würde man glauben, Italien wäre 2018 das Land, in dem die meisten Flüchtlingen in der EU ankommen. In Wirklichkeit hat Spanien dieses Jahr mehr Bootsflüchtlinge aufgenommen als Italien. Selbst in das kleinere Griechenland kommen aus der Türkei noch mehr Menschen. Für Asylantragsteller, die nach Deutschland kommen, sind immer noch die griechisch-türkische Grenze und der Balkan die wichtigsten Routen. Die öffentliche Diskussion nimmt das jedoch kaum wahr.
Woran liegt das?
Die Debatte wird von Hysterie beherrscht, und Populisten geht es nicht um Zahlen oder konkrete Lösungen. Selbst wenn irgendwann niemand mehr nach Italien oder Ungarn käme, um Asyl zu beantragen, würde Salvini Migration zum Hauptthema machen. In den ersten fünf Monaten dieses Jahres kamen im Durchschnitt weniger als 2700 Menschen im Monat über das Meer nach Italien. Dann wurde Matteo Salvini (Lega Nord) Anfang Juni Minister und versprach durch Sabotage privater Seenotretter eine angebliche Invasion zu stoppen. Das Ergebnis: Auch im Juni kamen wieder mehr als 3100 Menschen, dafür sind aber 564 Menschen ertrunken. Das sind mehr als fünf Mal so viele als im Durchschnitt im ganzen letzten Jahr im Monat ertrunken sind. Doch so wie Trump oder Orban ist auch Salvini gut darin, packende Geschichten zu erzählen, die mit der Wirklichkeit nichts zu tun haben. Und künstliche Krisen zu schaffen.
Eine künstliche Krise? Wir sehen wieder fast täglich Bilder vom Mittelmeer…
Es gibt genug echte Krisen, die man dringend lösen muss. Es sollte niemand mehr im Mittelmeer ertrinken. Es sollten sich viel weniger Menschen auf den Weg nach Libyen machen, um von dort in die EU zu kommen. Niemand, der mit einem Boot ankommt, sollte länger als sechs Wochen auf eine endgültige Asylentscheidung warten. An all diesen Krisen zu arbeiten und umsetzbare Lösungen vorzuschlagen, wäre verantwortungsvolle Politik. Aber zu behaupten, Italien müsste wegen 2700 Menschen im Monat die Flüchtlingskonvention, die Antifolterkonvention und die Europäische Menschenrechtskonvention aussetzen, weil Europa sonst von Migranten überflutet würde, hat mit seriöser Politik nichts zu tun.
Aber war diese Eskalation nicht vorhersehbar? Auch vor der jetzigen populistischen Regierung in Rom appellierte Italien immer wieder an die Solidarität der übrigen Mitgliedstaaten…
Blicken wir genauer hin. Asylanträge? In den ersten fünf Monaten dieses Jahres gab es in Deutschland 66 000, in Frankreich 46 000, in Italien nur 28 000. Positive Asylentscheidungen? Im Jahr 2017 bekamen in Deutschland 222 000 Menschen internationalen Schutz, in Italien waren es gerade 12 000. Weniger als in Belgien, viel weniger als in Frankreich. Italien ist durch seine Geografie betroffen, in den letzten Jahren sind über 600 000 Menschen dort angekommen, die Küstenwache hat sehr viele gerettet, danach sind aber viele weitergezogen. Und endgültige Asylentscheide dauern Jahre. So wurde die EU zum tödlichen Magnet. Die Vorgängerregierung in Rom hat dann auf die libysche Küstenwache gesetzt. Salvini hat applaudiert und gleichzeitig behauptet, dass das nicht genügt und der Rest der EU Italien weiterhin im Stich lassen würde. Und er macht das sehr geschickt.
Das Problem liegt doch vor allem in der Dublin-Verordnung…
Tatsächlich denken viele, in Italien wie in Deutschland, die Dublin-Verordnung hätte das Problem von Asylsuchenden auf Kosten der Mittelmeerstaaten gelöst: Hätte man Italien früher unter die Arme gegriffen, etwa mit einem System der Umverteilung von Asylsuchenden, dann wäre die Situation nicht so eskaliert. Doch hätte es vor 2014 ein System mit Quoten und Verteilung gegeben, wären Asylsuchende aus dem Rest Europas nach Italien zurückgebracht worden, so wenige Anträge gab es dort. In Wirklichkeit hat Dublin einfach nie funktioniert, Menschen sind immer weitergezogen und Länder haben sie selten zurückgenommen.
Trotzdem zetern Europas Populisten gegen die EU…
Dublin ist vor allem deshalb ein Problem, weil es eine Fiktion schafft, an der sich alle Populisten abarbeiten können, die aber noch nie umgesetzt wurde. Man muss klar vermitteln, wie eine humane Alternative zur Politik von Salvini tatsächlich aussehen könnte. Aus Brüssel kamen seit 2015 zwei große Ideen, beide waren weltfremd. Erstens: die Zwangsverteilung von Asylsuchenden. Das hat von 2015 bis 2017 nicht funktioniert und würde auch heute kaum ein Problem lösen. Das weiß die Europäische Kommission auch. Zweitens: mehr Geld für Frontex und EU Grenzbeamte. Doch weder in Spanien noch in Italien oder Griechenland fehlt es heute an nationalen Grenzbeamten. Wenn man dann noch dazu nimmt, dass Dublin nie funktionierte, wirkt die EU verloren. Und dann kommen Populisten wie Salvini und Viktor Orbán, behaupten es sei alles ganz einfach, das Versagen Europas nur eine Frage des Willens. Das ist Theater, aber leider mit guten Schauspielern.
Wie sieht eine europäische Lösung denn aus?
Wir müssen wissen, was im Regelfall passiert, wenn heute ein europäisches Schiff im Mittelmeer Menschen rettet. Es ist illegal, Menschen nach Libyen zurückzubringen. Kein anderes nordafrikanisches Land ist zur Aufnahme bereit. Daher brauchen wir gemeinsame europäische Aufnahmezentren, in denen schnell entschieden werden kann, wer Schutz braucht und wer nicht. Und das binnen Wochen, wie heute in den Niederlanden schon, wo die Fristen zwischen Ablehnung und Berufungsentscheidung verkürzt sind. Dazu braucht es Anreize für Herkunftsländer, dass ihre Bürger zurückgenommen werden, die keinen Schutz brauchen. Geschieht dies konsequent und schnell, ist das der beste Weg, viele davon abzuhalten, die gefährliche Reise anzutreten. Und niemand wird Folterern ausgeliefert oder in die Gefahr zurückgestoßen.
Angenommen, die Zentren funktionieren, wie Sie sagen. Wie geht es dann weiter?
Wer Asyl bekommt, dürfte in der EU bleiben. Es wäre im Interesse von Deutschland, Frankreich, der Niederlande anerkannte Flüchtlinge freiwillig aufzunehmen – als Teil eines Gesamtsystems, das irreguläre Migration reduziert und Schengen stärkt. Die meisten, die in den vergangenen Jahren in Italien ankamen, bekommen in der EU keinen internationalen Schutz. Ein EU-Fonds sollte dafür Gemeinden und Städte subventionieren, wenn sie anerkannte Flüchtlinge aus diesen Zentren aufnehmen.
Das Problem solcher Zentren ist oft, dass die Menschen nicht bleiben, um auf die Entscheidung zu warten. Wie würden Sie das lösen?
Wenn Bedingungen menschenwürdig sind, und die Verfahren schnell, dann müsste man sicherstellen können, dass Leute nicht einfach weiterreisen. Auch Menschenrechtsorganisationen sollten das – unter Einschränkungen – unterstützen, wenn es dazu führt, das niemand ewig in der Luft hängt und niemand ohne faires Verfahren zurückgeschickt wird. Man sollte ein Zeitlimit setzen. Was in jedem Fall zu Problemen führt, wäre Menschen länger oder zur Abschreckung festzuhalten. Doch ich habe keine Illusionen: Wenn sich politisch Salvini, Orbán und andere in der EU durchsetzen, wird es wie in den USA kommen, wo es heute schon über 40 000 Haftplätze für irreguläre Migranten gibt.
Rückführungen funktionieren auch in Deutschland nicht. Jahre später werden längst integrierte Flüchtlinge abgeschoben. Wie sinnvoll ist das?
Es schadet dem Einzelnen, aber es nützt der Allgemeinheit nicht. Es ist sinnlos. Leider läuft die Debatte oft so, als gebe es nur zwei Möglichkeiten: eine Amnestie für alle, was dazu führen könnte, dass noch mehr Menschen nach Deutschland kommen. Oder eine rigorose Abschiebepolitik – koste es was es wolle, obwohl jedem klar ist, dass das oft sinnlos ist, und dass trotzdem viele, die heute hier sind, am Ende nicht abgeschoben werden können.
Gibt es denn eine Alternative?
Ja. Das erste Ziel sollte sein, dass diejenigen, die irregulär kommen und keinen Schutz brauchen, möglichst schnell zurückgeschickt werden, aus Aufnahmezentren an den EU-Außengrenzen und durch attraktive Abkommen mit Herkunftsländern. Das zweite Ziel sollte sein, dass nach einem Stichtag jene, die schon hier sind, eine Chance bekommen hier bleiben zu können, wenn sie konkrete Anstrengungen unternehmen sich ein neues Leben aufzubauen. Beides zusammen sollte erreichen, dass es in drei Jahren eines nicht mehr gibt: viele Menschen ohne Perspektive, die am Rande der Gesellschaft, ohne klaren Status leben. Doch so eine Politik kann die EU nicht umsetzen. Das müssen Koalitionen von Mitgliedsländern machen.
Bundesinnenminister Horst Seehofer setzt vielleicht auch deshalb eher auf nationale Lösungen…
Die Frage ist: welche Lösung? Dublin an der deutschen Außengrenze wiederzubeleben, ist wie einen Toten künstlich zu beatmen. Es wäre hingegen sehr gut für Europa, wenn der deutsche Innenminister tatsächlich Erfolg hätte, gefährlichen Populisten das Wasser abzugraben. Etwa so: eine deutsch-französische Initiative für ein europäisches Ankerzentrum auf Lesbos, in Spanien oder auf Korsika, in dem seriös schnell entschieden wird, wer Schutz braucht. Eine Troika Spanien-Frankreich-Deutschland, die Herkunftsländern attraktive Angebote zur Rücknahme ihrer Bürger nach einem Stichtag macht. Das Ausdehnen des EU-Türkei Abkommens auf die Landgrenze mit der EU. Mehr Umsiedlungen von Schutzbedürftigen mit dem Flüchtlingshilfswerk UNHCR. Schnellere Familienzusammenführungen, schneller Abschiebungen von Gefährdern. Das strategische Ziel 2019: Weniger Menschen kommen über das Mittelmeer, niemand ertrinkt und proeuropäische Parteien weisen mit einer selbstbewussten und humanen Asylpolitik Salvini und Co. bei Wahlen in die Schranken. Wenn es Horst Seehofer gelänge, Kontrolle, Sicherheit und Respekt für Menschenwürde zu verbinden, wäre ganz Europa der Gewinner.
Seehofer versucht sich lieber in bilateralen Abkommen mit Wien.
Mitte Juni hat Horst Seehofer zunächst von Kanzler Sebastian Kurz und FPÖ-Vizekanzler Heinz-Christian Strache verbale Unterstützung erfahren. Dann aber, als es konkret darum ging, dass Österreich Asylsuchende aus Deutschland zurücknehmen sollte, hat sich deren Haltung um 180 Grad gedreht. Das war eine gute Lehre. Denn obwohl im Juni 2018 nur relativ wenige Flüchtlinge an die deutsch-österreichischen Grenze kamen, zeigte sich, dass es die angeblich einfache Option, national Grenzen dichtzumachen, praktisch nie gegeben hat.
Was passiert, wenn es der EU nicht gelingt, eine nachhaltige Lösung für die Flüchtlingskrise zu finden?
Das, was Salvini, Orbán, Marine Le Pen und andere offen anstreben, ist ein Europa, in dem die Flüchtlings- und Menschenrechtskonventionen nicht mehr gelten. Angst vor offenen Grenzen führt bei ihnen zur Attacke auf das, was im vergangenen halben Jahrhundert aufgebaut wurde. Was sie verbindet, ist das Schüren von Angst und Hass: auf Flüchtlinge und Migranten, als Invasionsarmee bezeichnet, also als Feinde. Auf Eliten und die Zivilgesellschaft, die als Verräter in diesem angeblichen Krieg auf der falschen Seite stehen. Das ist eine gefährliche Agenda. Jene in der EU, die das nicht wollen, müssen beweisen, dass es einen besseren Weg gibt, mit Migration und Asyl so umzugehen, dass sich Mehrheiten trotzdem sicher fühlen. Ohne unsere Werte zu verraten und uns Populisten auszuliefern.
In recent weeks, we sent a number of letters to European policy makers with concrete suggestions how Spain, Germany and others might move ahead in addressing the current Mediterranean migration and rescue crisis. Here is a summary of some of the concrete things that we suggested in these letters (and in a few meetings):
There needs to be a strong joint commitment to sea rescues.It is unacceptable to let people drown who might be saved with more effort. In June 2018 – the first month with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini –more people drowned in the central Mediterranean than in any June in the past decade!
While it is crucial to send more rescue boats, this is not in itself enough to reduce deaths. The deadliest six-month period in the Mediterranean was actually the period May-October 2014, when Italy was fully engaged in its ambitious rescue mission (Mare Nostrum): more than 3,000 people died on the way to Italy. (The deadliest full year was 2016, the year when most rescues took place).
Spain, France, Germany and others should provide more rescue boats outside the Libyan territorial waters. The objective must be to ensure that nobody drowns; while arrivals are reduced without push-backs.There are three possible ways to achieve this:
discourage people who have no need of protection from coming, by sending a clear message that those who do not need international protection will be returned to their countries of origin quickly, following a fair but fast asylum procedure.
work with transit states that stop boats leaving (as Spain did with Senegal in 2006 and with Morocco for a longer period; as Italy and the EU have done, much more problematically, with the Libyan coast guard since early 2017; or as the EU and some members have done working with Niger to stop smugglers taking people through the Sahara).
send back people who are rescued to North Africa, or to some “processing platforms”, as Matteo Salvini, Viktor Orban and Sebastian Kurz have long advocated as “Australian solution”, modelled on Nauru; an option the last EU council requested should be studied. This is both highly problematic legally and completely impractical. When some European leaders present such platforms as their proposal what they really appear to want is a thin cover for push-backs to Africa.
The first option is by far the best. It represents a real humane alternative to Salvini’s current approach. It combines control and empathy, sea rescues and returns.Can a strategy based on this first option be implemented? Yes, it can.It would require three concrete measures:
1. European RICs – registration and identification centres, what the European Council called “controlled centres” (the term hotspot, discredited by the awful conditions on the Greek island, should be dropped): i.e. humane, decent accommodation centres, set up in European Mediterranean countries of arrival, jointly funded, perhaps even jointly run, as concrete expressions of solidarity. The opposite of the current Greek hotspots in crucial aspects:
Ensuring sufficient space and decent treatment of everyone (modelled on the Dutch Ter Apel asylum centre; or European “Ankerzentren”, as agreed in the German coalition agreement), these should set a model how a coalition of European countries respects human dignity. There should be full transparency.
A time limit: nobody will be kept in a RIC longer then 2 months at most. The goal is to ensure that a first asylum procedure and an appeal are possible within 6 weeks for most cases.
Set up an immediate coordination board of senior officials from reception and asylum services of European countries that want to make this possible: the Dutch, French, Germans, Benelux, Portugal, Nordics, but also inviting Swiss and Norwegians, both members of Schengen and Dublin. Create a small secretariat to set out realistically the human resources needed for this (perhaps based in Madrid.) Appoint a credible coordinator with administrative experience to ensure that resources arrive in time. Learn from Greek islands experience: outsourcing this to EASO, under current procedures, is not going to work, as can be seen in Lesbos or Chios.If France would offer to host such a centre in Corsica (for people rescued in the central Mediterranean), if Malta would as well, it would be even better. Then such RICs should replace the current hotspots in Greece – to help accelerate asylum procedures, increase returns from the islands to Turkey (which currently stand at only 25 a month!) and to relieve the humanitarian crisis on the islands.
2. Immediate outreach to key African countries of origin for LARS (Legal Access and Return statements). Appoint a joint team (one Spanish, French, German) to go to West African countries first to offer simple and transparent statements. These statements should include:
Commitment from a coalition of willing EU member states to annual contingents of legal migration and scholarships to these EU countries in the next five years.
Commitment from African partners to take back everyone who crosses the Mediterranean after a day X and does not apply for or does not receive asylum in the EU. The goal is that the announcement itself sharply reduces arrivals.
Start negotiations with some African countries now (Senegal, Ivory Coast!) It is vital that other countries in Africa see this as attractive and want similar arrangements.
3. Commitment by European members of this coalition of concerned countries to quickly relocate those who get protection in these RICS, so there is no special burden for Spain – relocating recognised refugees, not asylum seekers.
May I suggest other questions put in a similar mindset?
Provide safe, clean water for people, in big cities, 24 hours a day? What a crazy idea. How would this ever be possible?
Run a hospital in any of our countries decently? Ensure that somebody maintains machines, pays bills, manages personnel, ensures enough medicine is available?
Choose leaders of a country by elections: how could this possibly be done? Just think of all the things that might go wrong when millions of people have to vote on the same day! How can anyone ensure they only vote once? How can we move so many ballots quickly?
Ensure that all airports in Europe guarantee basic security on and off planes. What, really: “all”? How can this possibly be done? Ok, we understand Amsterdam and Frankfurt: but nobody serious will expect Greece or Bulgaria to ensure safety in their airports? (Of course we do. And it works. Every day)
We can go on. The food safety of all dairy products sold in our markets every day? Education systems teaching millions of pupils (who come to school all on the same day in September!)? Environmental policy, product standard policy, security of online systems and communication. ANY field of policy requires effort and investment and serious planning to get any results. Everywhere. Always.
In reality, the implicit defeatism in discussions about sea rescue, asylum and returns reveals an astonishing lack of seriousness.
A German politician was quoted yesterday saying that any proposals to accommodate and process asylum applications of a few thousand people (in spain or anywhere) would inevitably lead to inhumane camps for masses of people. The same party proposes policies which aim to change the effect of human societies around the globe on the climate.
We understand the scepticism. It was not possible in 2.5 years on the Greek islands, to our ongoing frustration. Some now wonder if it is ever possible anywhere.
Of course it is. What Greece shows us is what happens when any serious interest in implementing what one decides is missing. When leaders and institutions don’t care. If we assume from the start that nobody cares about the decisions we take in the EU, though, or the goals in our own laws and conventions, then we might as well go home.
Civilisation takes effort. It has done so ever since our ancestors moved out of their caves.
Rays of sunlight on the morning of the European Council
A Friday that starts with a sunrise like this, above the the roofs of Paris, has to go well. And it did.
First, an ESI newsletter went out early in the morning, to be done just as these rays of sun lit up the sky. There was then a lot of positive response during the day, including from important institutions and media.
Next I learned that the internal debate in the EU and in Brussels is shifting away from focusing on relocation towards focusing on resettlement (as we had argued for weeks, sometimes feeling like Don Quijote taking on windmills.) One small step in this (right) direction that is being discussed would be to allow countries to chose whether to accept refugees from Greece or from Turkey directly. The logical next step would be to suspend the focus on relocation altogether. And to do instead what everyone claims is the priority: focus on the EU’s external border in the Aegean.
Third, Greece reminded the rest of Europe today that it is still in the EU, can veto decisions and assert its interests, and that closing Balkan borders to trap people in Greece would trigger a strong and justified reaction. While relocation is not a solution for Greece but a trap desguised as “help”, attempts to close the Balkan route and turn Greece into a huge refugee camp would be an openly unfriendly act. It would undermine hope of working with Greece in the Eurocrisis, and paralyze EU decision making. No serious leader in the EU can want this. One wonders: what were the Hungarians, Slovenes and Austrians thinking … that Greece would just sit and watch as they build a fence?
Fourth, as the idea of “closing” the Balkan route is being looked at more seriously, it is becoming clear to anyone that it is a red herring. Macedonia will not allow itself to be turned into the glacis of Central Europe. It will not do Slovenia the favour and build the wall that Slovenia – the open door to the Schengen zone – does not want to build itself for good reason.
Finally, the leading Turkish expert on refugee issues – now a scholar at Brookings in DC – Kemal Kirisci has published a new paper on the crisis for the EPC. Kemal strongly backs the Samsom plan and the ESI proposals, as the best way forward for Turkey, as well as for the EU. This is very encouraging news, as we head to Istanbul and Ankara for presentations next week. Reading his paper is a great way to end this day:
If only Greece, Turkey and Germany come together around a credible strategy, this might actually work – and now there are another few days until the Brussels meeting between the EU and Turkey in March to achieve this.
The inventor of management studies, Peter Drucker, noted once that, while high intelligence and imagination are far from rare in executive jobs, “high effectiveness” is often conspicuously absent. Many brilliant minds are strikingly ineffectual.
“While others rush around in the frenzy and busyness which very bright people so often confuse with ‘creativity’, the plodder puts one foot in front of the other and gets there first like the tortoise in the old fable.”
The European Union and its institutions are famous plodders. They have excelled at stitching a continent together by putting one foot in front of the other. Take Schengen: invented by a small “coalition of the willing” in 1985, it took until 1995 before France trusted its Benelux neighbours enough to implement the Schengen rules it had itself crafted. Soon Schengen turned out to be so popular and effective that it attracted many other countries to join, even non- EU members like Switzerland and Norway. It became part of EU rules, one of the most popular European projects, transforming lives for citizens and businesses. It has often been challenged, but never replaced, based on many compromises and interests slowly reconciled in endless meetings.
The plodding progress of the European Union institutions in Brussels can, given enough time, change the geopolitics of a whole continent. Yet things often look different when it comes to an unexpected crisis.
Frenzy and failure
In recent months, the European Commission and the European Council have been gripped by frenzy, even panic, as they sought to devise credible policies to deal with the sudden inflow of a million people into the Schengen area. One busy summit and extraordinary meeting followed another. As EU staff rushed through the corridors, many a speech and policy idea was presented that – upon a little reflection – should never have been tabled. But once announced, even obviously unworkable schemes had to be explored, tested and defended, with frantic attempts to stave off their eventual, inevitable failure.
This has certainly been the case for one of the supposed flagship projects in the recent crisis: the idea to set up an internal “relocation mechanism” – a scheme whereby those who arrive to claim asylum in Greece or Italy are relocated to other EU member states according to a key designed by the European Commission, with every country showing “European solidarity” by accepting a number of immigrants and asylum seekers.
This scheme has turned into a humiliating experience for the EU. It was adopted in September in a rare majority decision, outvoting countries who claimed that the scheme was both unworkable and wrong on principle. This led to serious tensions among EU members.
A few months on, even the most Europhile of observers have to admit that the doubters had a point: designed to relocate 160,000 people in two years, it has so far led to the relocation of no more than 500 people. It has failed altogether where it mattered most – in both Italy and Greece. These are embarrassing, even laughable numbers, and they make the EU look strikingly ineffective. Meanwhile the Commission has tried to shame member states into offering more places, while Greece and Italy are under pressure to set up “hotspots” whose precise purpose even EU ambassadors in the same country seem unclear about (Are they registration offices? Refugee camps? Detention centres?). In the meantime, the refugees move on, through Greece and the Balkans into the heart of the European Union, apparently unaware that somebody had other destinations in mind for them.
The search for culprits for this failure has led some in the EU to focus their ire at Greece: If only Greece would register everyone, if only Greece would have set up enough hotspots to accommodate and hold (by force?) its new arrivals, if only it would keep track of people, then the relocation idea would be viable.
Blaming Greek administrative ineptitude is convenient and comes easy to other Europeans, but in this case is completely off the mark. Obviously so, because Italy has had no greater success with the relocation/hotspot approach. In fact, the relocation scheme is profoundly flawed in conception, and could not work, no matter who was responsible for its administration. More than that, in a time of crisis when European ideals are at stake, it is actively harmful.
The current relocation scheme has already eaten up a huge amount of time and political capital, at a moment when both are in short supply. It has spawned many meetings and papers, but the number of people who arrive in Greece from Turkey has not been affected, nor the number moving on from Greece into the rest of Europe. It has increased the sense of distrust and acrimony inside the EU. It has given the EU’s critics a tool to beat European institutions with. It has made the EU look feckless, bumbling and, above all else, ineffective, while exposing it to populist attacks from those opposed even to this very abstract idea of burden sharing.
So what is to be done? A simple reflection makes clear why the relocation scheme from Greece should be scraped and replaced immediately by a voluntary effort based on moral pressure to instead resettle refugees directly from Turkey, ideally already at next week’s EU Council meeting.
Who is relocated? And why?
Many well-intentioned people continue to place their hopes in the relocation scheme as a solution to the refugee crisis. So let us pause for moment to examine what would happen over the next six months if the scheme were implemented as foreseen by its architects. Here is one possible best-case scenario.
Let’s imagine that 100,000 people were to arrive in Greece between 15 February and end of April.
Let’s assume that Greece manages to register every single one of them; that hotspots are set up that not only register but also host these refugees, becoming a string of refugee camps throughout Greece.
Let’s assume that the people who arrive believe in the relocation scheme and patiently wait to be assigned a place in any of the countries where they are supposed to go; and then go. They will not try to cross any borders as they have in the past year, and will not rebel against being held in hotspot/camps until their turn comes
Let’s finally assume that all states that are supposed to take part in this relocation scheme make all places available right away. All administrations involved work smoothly.
Then, at the end of April, the Commission and the EU presidency call a press conference to declare that relocation has been a big European success. A huge mobilisation of resources and total focus by all parties across the EU have made the scheme work as envisaged. And then one journalist asks, like the child wondering about the Emperor’s clothes, what the point of all this was? After all, this scheme will not lead to even one fewer refugee arriving in the EU.
It is much more likely to have the contrary effect. If potential asylum seekers would see this scheme as the only way to get into the EU in 2016, they might – in panic to get of these limited 100,000 places – rush to Greece in the coming months in ever larger numbers. Note that the vast majority of the people who would be relocated from Greece after 15 February are currently in Turkey! The scheme would give people an even bigger incentive to cross the Aegean, to risk their lives and to enrich smugglers.
What would happen once all 100,000 places are taken? It is unlikely that a new relocation quota would pass the Council. Even if it did – for another 100,000 people to be distributed from Greece – the same problem would be posed two months after that at the latest. In the meantime, far-right, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-refugee parties, boosted by constant press reporting on the progress of the relocations, would get even stronger.
If effective action requires working on the right things, then the relocation scheme fails disastrously because it diverts attention from the only things that really ought to matter now:
How to prevent more people drowning in the Aegean Sea
How to disrupt the operations of people smugglers
How to restore control over the EU and Schengen borders
How to help substantial numbers of recognised refugees find a safe way to the EU, so the EU can share responsibility for the refugees with Turkey
How to improve conditions for the many displaced persons who will remain in Turkey.
The relocation scheme achieves none of these things. In fact, it would be actively harmful. In the extremely unlikely best case scenario of full implementation, it would leave the EU facing a worsening refugee crisis with its ability to forge any future consensus compromised, perhaps irreparably.
If the relocation scheme is abandoned next week: what then?
If this scheme – poorly conceived, impractical, and unhelpful even if implemented – were abandoned, what should replace it?
Let us return to the basic fact that the 100,000 people to be relocated from Greece to EU member states in the next few months are not currently in Greece. They are in Turkey.
Imagine if the relocation scheme were not to require these 100,000 people first to cross to Greece (irregularly, in the hands of people smugglers, resulting in many more deaths), but instead could be implemented in a safe and orderly fashion in Turkey.
In recent days, leaders in the Netherlands and Germany have spoken out about the need to take contingents of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey within weeks – in return for Turkish willingness to take back anyone who crosses to Greece from that point onwards.
This is no simple matter: it would require serious preparation and the full attention of already overstretched administrations. It would take some time for the numbers attempting the Aegean crossing to fall away; in the meantime, Greece would need the administrative capacity to process those who reach the islands. The states in the coalition of the willing need to find ways to work with Turkey on an orderly resettlement process, sending a clear signal to these refugees not to get on boats. This would be a serious test of national capacities and European cooperation. It would need to be the main focus on European summits and technical meetings for the coming months. It can be done, but only if it is taken very seriously indeed.
ESI suggests that the February Council meeting in Brussels declares first that the relocation program is scrapped, or at least suspended. At the same time, it calls upon all countries to voluntarily take at least the number of people they would have been required to take from Greece directly from Turkey.
There would be no coercion. In fact, this step would remove a major argument of those who use this scheme to attack the EU.
There would now be strong moral pressure. After all, this voluntary resettlement scheme is not only designed to help refugees – whose fingerprints will be checked against databases of known terrorists – but also to help Turkey, at a moment when it is under immense pressure from Russian military operations in Syria. How could Turkey’s NATO allies refuse to participate in a voluntary burden-sharing scheme, if it supports Turkey, helps refugees and restores control over Europe’s borders?
The European Union needs trust to work. The relocation debate and its subsequent failure have eroded that trust. A voluntary burden-sharing scheme, as part of the Merkel-Samsom plan, could restore it.
This is not a defeat – but the best way forward for European ideals
Some will argue that this would be a defeat. If the EU cannot make even a modest relocation program work, how can it ever have a shared, centrally administered asylum system?
But this argument is based on denial. Unpalatable and unworkable schemes, like building a wall across Macedonia (a non-EU member) with EU support, so as to trap refugees in Greece (an EU and Schengen member) shows the damage that flawed and muddled thinking is doing to European ideals. Clinging to a poorly designed scheme only adds to the damage already done.
The EU will not get a central asylum system without first resolving this crisis. If anti-EU, illiberal parties gain strength on the back of public fear that mainstream parties and the EU have lost control, the political space for collaboration in this critical area may disappear.
Perhaps a centralised EU asylum system is not an appropriate goal. Coping with refugees in large numbers is perhaps possible for strong and democratically legitimized governments, like Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. The EU as a political entity may never be strong enough to do so. Ironically, if the authority for refugee policy is moved to Brussels, the likely outcome is a less liberal EU stance, with reduced access for refugees.
The debate on future EU asylum policy is a serious one, of course, and arguments can be made on both sides. But anyone who cares about “European ideals” should admit that this moment of crisis is not conducive to a serious debate. The EU has been revealed as strikingly ineffective. The relocation scheme is an abject failure, and could not have been otherwise.
The EU needs to be effective in its response; not in the distant future but in the coming weeks and months. The best way forward is to scrap the relocation scheme at the EU Council next week and to replace it with a voluntary scheme based on the Merkel-Samsom plan. The time to get serious about how to allocate precious focus and resources is now.
Peter Drucker defined the characteristics of effective action as follows: it is action defined by concrete results. It requires working on the right things. It requires clear criteria that enable work on the truly important. Effective executives do not start out with the things they cannot do. Effective executives know that their time is the most crucial limiting factor. To be effective requires eliminating time-wasting activities – reports and monitoring that lead to no results; recurrent meetings that are not focused on what truly matters. An effective executive also takes care not to waste the time of others he or she needs. He or she is always aware that bringing too many people into coordination mechanisms is usually a time waster. As Drucker noted:
“My first-grade arithmetic primer asked: ‘If it takes two ditch-diggers two days to dig a ditch, how long will it take four ditch-diggers?’ In first grade, the correct answer is, of course, ‘one day.’ In the kind of work, however, with which executives are concerned, the right answer is probably ‘four days’ if not ‘forever’.”
“Is this a game changer?”, Dutch Newshour asks yesterday night, as it interviews Social Democrat leader Diederick Samsom about the proposals he presented on how to address the current refugee crisis. On the one hand, he notes, there has to be readmission from Greece to Turkey. On the other hand there has to be an effective coalition of willing EU members to take refugees directly from Turkey.
The interview is here (in Dutch). I explain the thinking behind our plan (in English):
5 October: both Süddeutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung write about impact of ESI plan on EU policy debate:Süddeutsche Zeitung – 5 October 2015“Die Kernpunkte des europäischen Angebots stützen sich auf Ideen von Experten der “Europäischen Stabilitätsinitiative”. Ihr Präsident Gerald Knaus sagte im ORF, die Zusammenarbeit mit der Türkei sei die einzige Möglichkeit, die Krise effektiv zu bekämpfen. Die Initiative dazu müsse aber von Deutschland ausgehen, nur dann werde sie von Erdoğan ernst genommen, der angesichts des russischen Vorgehens in Syrien nach Partnern suche.”Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – 5 October 2015“As soon as mid-September, ESI had already proposed a solution to the refugee crisis, which in large part has now been adopted by the European Commission. At the core of ESI’s proposal is the idea that the German government should take the lead and commit to resettling 500,000 Syrian refugees directly from Turkey to Germany … In return, Ankara should immediately readmit all migrants reaching Greece via the Aegean or the Turkish-Greek land border in Thracia. Substantial elements of this idea apparently are part of a plan that the EU Commission says it has negotiated with Turkey, but there is no official confirmation from Ankara about the existence of such an agreement. Before Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Brussels this Monday, ESI continued to advocate for a “package deal”: readmission of a number of refugees to be determined in return for the immediate application of the readmission agreement between the EU and Turkey.”
7 October: Angela Merkel on German TV (Anne Will) where she explains her plan:“We must better protect our external borders, but this is only possible if we reach agreements with our neighbours, for example with Turkey, on how to better share the task of dealing with the refugees. And this will mean more money for Turkey, which has many expenses because of the refugees. This will mean that we will accept a set number of refugees, in a way so that the human traffickers and smugglers in the Aegean will not earn money, but in an orderly way … “
15 October interview in Die Zeit with Gerald Knaus: ZEIT: The plan that Angela Merkel will bring to Ankara comes close to a proposal you made already weeks ago – and now it became EU foreign policy. What exactly did you propose?”
“If Turkey is ready to make a big contribution to securing the common border with the EU and, at the same time, will readmit refugees who try crossing that border, then the European Union has to actively support Turkey in return … then Germany should – in return – resettle contingents of Syrian refugees within the framework of a European effort as it already did in the case of other civil wars. The people on these contingents shall be safely brought to Europe and Germany. Instead of chaotic and uncontrolled immigration on dangerous routes as it is now, orderly and safe resettlement of civil war refugees.”
“The new Dutch proposal was hailed by the thinktank that first proposed a version of the scheme, the European Stability Initiative, who published several papers on mass resettlement in September and October. Gerald Knaus, the head of the ESI, said: “What we have seen this week is a race between two ideas – the Hungarian idea of building a fence, and the German and now Dutch idea of making a deal with Turkey that works.” Knaus added: “It’s much too early to say that this is a breakthrough, but it’s much better than the other ideas that have been proposed.”
“The Netherlands is gathering support among a group of EU countries for a plan to accept “a couple hundred thousand refugees per year” from Turkey, in exchange for sending back all illegal migrants that arrive in Greece. The plan was revealed on Thursday (28 January) by Dutch social-democrat leader Diederik Samsom in an interview with newspaper De Volkskrant, and has the support of prime minister Mark Rutte. The Netherlands currently holds the rotating six-month EU presidency. “I think there is a realistic chance that by this spring a leading group of EU countries will have an agreement with Turkey about a legal migration route for a couple hundred thousand refugees per year, in exchange for [Turkey] accepting back everyone who enters [the EU] via Greece,” Samsom told the paper’s Brussels correspondent. The idea is to distribute “between 150,000 and 250,000” refugees among EU countries who voluntarily take part in the plan. A first meeting about the plan took place in December, with Rutte, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Swedish prime minister Stefan Loefven, and Dutch EU commissioner Frans Timmermans. Samsom noted he has been speaking “intensively” with Germany, Austria, and Sweden “because they have social-democrats in the government”. “In the worst case scenario, only these countries plus a few like France, Spain, and Portugal take part,” he said, adding that France has been “dodging” the issue.”
We will from now on call this the “Merkel-Samsom Plan”; a German and a Dutch, a Christian Democrat and a Social Democrat: a grand European coalition of the willing. This a very promising development indeed.
‘Ik was in Izmir en zag: we hebben geen tijd meer’
I was in Izmir and saw: we have no time anymore
The article explains how Diederik Samsom [leader of the PvdA, the Dutch Labour party], on a trip to Turkey that started on 5 December 2015, went on a patrol with the Turkish coast guard and realized that things had to be done differently. From this emerged his new plan to stop the flow of refugees. Prime Minister Rutte immediately called it “Plan Samsom”, with Samsom commenting in response: “Mark does this always very smartly.”
The article notes that it is the height of the waves at sea that determines how many people cross, “not our action plans”. He writes, summarising Samsom’s view, that “we need to move towards a system where the crossing is pointless”.
The article continues that “the district of Izmir in Turkey where refugees and smugglers meet” is a small Syria. Diederik Samsom realised that “this is totally uncontrollable. The squares, the bazaar, the restaurants and the shops, they form a single market for illegal travel to Europe elusive to police control.” The same night Samsom met motivated and frustrated police and border guards in Cesme, opposite the Greek island of Chios. The article quotes Samsom about the island: “You can almost touch it, it is so close”. There is a 20 kilometer-long coastal road. The author quotes Samsom:
“A beautiful coastline with little beaches, with the same scene on each of these beaches. Refugees come running down goat paths, carrying folded rubber boats and luggage. On the beach, [the boats] are inflated quickly, by hand or with air cartridges. Within 10 minutes they leave. The only one that can stop them is the coastguard. But it cannot be everywhere at once.”
“The night when I was there, twenty boats left. We did not manage to catch even one of them. The following day there was a picture in the newspaper of two drowned children, on one of the beaches where I had been.”
When Samsom returned to The Hague he realized that the long-term idea – that asylum claims are handled outside Europe – had to be brought forward dramatically. Samsom elaborated:
“For me it was clear: we do not have years. This should be put on track before the new refugee season, this spring. On the Turkish coast, a kind of highway to Europe has been built. With a complete infrastructure of smuggling networks and – since the Turkish authorities have banned the import of Chinese dinghies – illegal boat factories. This attracts more and more people, especially North African men. The refugee stream will double easily.”
A few days later, Samsom was sitting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
“I told him, it is an illusion to think that if we deploy the coast guard, Frontex in the middle and if we pay the Turkish police, a solution will be found. All these measures contribute, they are needed, but they are not sufficient. The height of the waves at sea determines how many people cross, not our action plans. We need to move towards a system where the crossing becomes pointless. As long as the crossing offers a chance, however small, people seem willing to even lose their children on their way.”
The article notes that the plan that Samson put to Rutte has the charm of simplicity:
“The asylum request of everybody that arrives on Chios, Lesvos, Kos or any other Greek islands is declared inadmissible because [the refugees] come from Turkey, which is a safe country for refugees. They will be returned back there by ferry. However, Turkey will accept them only if large numbers of recognized refugees can go to Europe from Turkey in a legal manner. [There must be] a legal asylum route for a couple of hundred thousand refugees per year. Of this I [Samsom] convinced Mark [Rutte]. On the same day, he called it immediately the Samson plan. Mark does this always very cleverly, in this way we commit to each other.”
More excerpts from the interview with Samsom:
How many refugees can go yearly to Europe from Turkey?
The Turkish say 500,000, as many as possible, but that’s not going to happen. Between 150,000 and 250,000 per year …
Will EU countries receive compulsory quotas?
That was the next issue and we worked on it last month. At first you think: of course everyone has to contribute. However, we did this experiment in the EU last summer with the redistribution plan for 160.000 refugees who were already in Italy and Greece. I remember that I thought at the time: good, those who were not ready to cooperate were outvoted. No single country can block the solution anymore. However, they can actually undermine it and they managed to do so. Compulsory quotas do not work.
So it will happen on a voluntary basis?
Yes. There will be a little table with all the Member States and then there will be many empty spaces after their names. There may be 18 empty spaces, and in ten spaces there will be numbers. I am in intense contact with some of these ten because there are Social Democrat in government. These are Germany, Austria and Sweden, all countries that, just like the Netherlands, have large numbers of refugees. Countries that are convinced that the current influx is unsustainable. The welfare state, which all Social Democrats promote, will collapse if we do not control the refugee flow. In the worst case scenario, only these countries will cooperate with others such as France, Spain and Portugal. If there will be 250,000 legal refugees, Netherlands will have to accept 20,000-30,000. This is considerably fewer than the 58,000 who came last year.
So, even if only a small group of Member States participate, the number of 150-250,000 refugees coming to Europe must be respected?
The leading group that participates will have to accept this number. Otherwise, Turkey will not cooperate.
Then the rest will just lean back (and do nothing).
The risk is enormous. You could also lean back, but this does not work. Germany is convinced that a leading group has to step forward, this is how the EU makes progress. Gabriel (leader of German Social Democrats and Vice PM) said to me: ‘Imagine that we take 300,000 refugees from Turkey every year and we Germans are the only crazy ones to do this – we will still be better off than with the more than one million last year.
Thus, the countries that receive the most refugees will continue to do so?
Yes, but the numbers will be lower and more controllable. Now the refugee stream is Darwinism at its best, the law of the jungle. Look at all the men coming from North Africa. If we make an agreement with Turkey on a legal route, it will be only families coming from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.”
Nonetheless: you reward the countries that disrespect European agreements.
But we will lead a European project. Because the financing will be done with EU money. The costs that the leading group will incur by receiving the refugees will have to be shared by everyone, because this will become the permanent asylum system. I do not have endless patience, even Poland will have to accept it.
You negotiate with Germany, Sweden and Austria. Why not with France, there is also a Socialist government?
France is dodging the issue. PM Valls says ‘intéressant, très intéressant’ when I call and then hopes that I will not inquire further. What I notice is that the French are hoping that this problem will pass them. However, in the meantime Calais is on fire! Paris will need to participate, however, for this some German pressure is needed.
You accept division in the EU on a crucial proposal: that does not look good.
Even if everyone participated, it would not influence the numbers much, the ‘refusers’ are mostly small Member States. It is more a principle than a necessity that ten Syrian families should soon be able to go to Latvia or Czech Republic. We could accommodate these ten families also in the Netherlands, really. What matters is that big countries such as Italy and the UK participate. Receiving refugees and the preservation of the welfare state are fundamental issues. You resolve them only if you dare to look at them from a practical point of view.”
Why will Turkey agree? Now 1.5 million leave for Europe, soon it will be only 250,000.
Turkey knows that the situation is unsustainable. It is like a business deal: If you pull someone’s skin over their ears [meaning: paying someone way too much], then that is immediately the last deal. We need each other. The 3 billion Euros that EU has promised to Turkey will otherwise disappear fast.”
Turkey is not a safe country, according to the UN you cannot send refugees back there.
The developments go fast. I see Alexander Pechtold (leader of the D66, whose party supports the ruling coalition) still stand in the debate on the asylum letter, with such a dismissive gesture: who invents this, what nonsense, this will never happen. No one could foresee back then, not even Pechtold, that Turkey would give Syrian refugees the right to work, that their children are even sooner allowed to go to school before they get asylum status. We are not far from the moment that Turkey will receive the status of a safe [third] country. Then it is possible to return refugees to Turkey under the UN convention. Will this be on time? The puzzle pieces need still to be put, however, we have them all in our hand.
Rutte said in January in the European Parliament that the refugee flow will be reduced in eight weeks. Is the Samsom plan a European policy by the end of March?
I consider the chance realistic that this spring a leading group of EU countries will have an agreement with Turkey over a legal migration route for a couple hundred thousand refugees per year in exchange for the direct readmission of everyone that enters via Greece.
What is Rutte doing this week to put forward the plan in Brussels?
The same as me, but with more executive power. Rutte… spends many hours every day working on. He is very hands-on, almost un-European, where often the meeting is the message. Rutte is well placed in order to solve this problem … When Rutte sees that the time is right he will present it in Brussels.”
And if that time never comes?
That is unacceptable. Then every country puts their own fences which will become a meter longer every passing month. Then all Member States set ceilings for the influx of refugees. The result is the worst of the worst: humanitarian dramas and a still more uncontrollable refugee stream. People will not get discouraged by fences, on the contrary: they will be more motivated to pass them with all the bad consequences. Not long ago we thought people would not be crazy enough to go with their small children in wrecked boats. But they so, even in winter. Refugees deserve a safe haven but the people who live here deserve that we protect their welfare.
If the Turkey-Greek route closes, migrants will choose another way.
The flow will not disappear. Europe is a destination for life. For this we must be proud, but it has also disadvantages. Migrants will indeed try to find another way, however, this Turkish-Greek “highway”, which by now all of North-Africa has discovered, needs to be closed. Let us start with that. I don’t understand how we can put up with an illegal migration of this magnitude.”