Five years after the peak of the last migration crisis, the European Union is facing another onslaught of refugees and seems to be as poorly prepared as it was in 2015
Since then, the European bloc has failed to formulate an answer to the fundamental issue of accepting migrants and processing asylum requests, according to the Associated Press.
Europe is experiencing a déjà vu where tens of thousands of people are gathering at the Turkish-Greek border in an attempt to enter the EU. In 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants were heading for the Greek land and sea borders, mostly fleeing the wars in Syria and Iraq.
But now EU officials say they are being blackmailed by Turkey, which had invaded northern Syria and began transporting thousands of refugees, only with a small portion that actually come from Syria, towards the EU because an uptick of Turkish losses on the battlefield.
This should have never happened.
Despite the entire EU’s promises to never allow a repeat of the 2015 migrants’ influx, it just happened in a reprehensibly simple manner.
According to the AP, the EU has failed to resolve a key policy puzzle in five years: Who should be obliged to accept migrants and their asylum applications? Should European partners who are not in the front line be forced to help?
The migration emergency of 2015 was perfectly manageable, the AP continues. Turkey received more migrants than all EU countries combined. Greece and Italy, however, felt abandoned by their Union partners, and the quota system, aimed at redistributing the refugee burden, failed.
Since the beginning of their current term of office at the end of last year, the European Commission officials in charge of migration have been working on a new pact. They aim to revive the vital asylum policy reform, which has been stagnating for several years now.
The European Commission says that the reform must bring a systemic solution and should also apply to countries from which migrants are coming or which they pass on their way to Europe. They also call for “resilient borders and meaningful and effective solidarity” between EU members.
However, AP notes that it’s challenging to create effective rules in times of crisis as national interests make it difficult to reach a compromise. Migration agencies familiar with the initiative stated that the presentation of the pact would be delayed.
“We now have a chance for a new deal on asylum and migration, and this, I dare to say, will be our last chance. Europe cannot fail twice on such an emblematic objective,” said European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas. He stressed the need to find the right balance this time.
The AP concludes that for the success of migration policy, EU countries will increasingly rely on unpredictable alliances such as the one with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Title image: In this Feb. 29, 2016 file photo, refugees and migrants, including Syrians, who entered Macedonia from Greece illegally, walk between the two lines of the protective fence along the border line, near southern Macedonia’s town of Gevgelija. For Syrians marking seven years of war this week, their country has never looked as helpless, fragmented and abandoned by the international community. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski, File)