We cave dwellers – some reactions to most recent ESI proposal for Spain

Seriously? As ESI proposes that some EU member states come together and – together with Spain and others in the Mediterranean – work to guarantee decent accommodation and fast and quality asylum procedures for anyone rescued at sea, and fast returns of those who are found not to be in need of protection in the EU – we get questions whether “such a thing is actually possible.” Whether this is actually realistic.

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.