The EU’s immigration challenge

Illegal immigration is progressively becoming one of the major issues of the international system.
This is of course a very complex question, but one has to admit the role of developed countries in making the countries from which these illegal immigrants emigrate miserable. Great powers have used these Third World countries in their rivalries, and thatand’s the main reason why these countries are unstable. People in developing countries try to reach developed countries in the hope of obtaining better living conditions that they have no chance of finding at home.
There is a considerable amount of academic research on the causes of immigration, so one canand’t say that the world doesnand’t understand the problem or canand’t consider possible solutions. The point is to be able to make a decision and stick to it.
Some people suggest that the best way to curb immigration is to economically assist the countries of origin. If one can stimulate economic development in those countries, people will not have to immigrate, they say. Economic development, however, takes time, and one can never foresee with certainty the consequences of economic policies. In the meantime, people will attempt to reach European shores by any and all means.
The US has an interesting policy toward immigrants from Latin America. Local authorities often turn a blind eye to those who cross the border as these people work illegally for peanuts, so businessmen are quite happy. However, if they get caught by federal authorities, they are deported immediately.
The EU is stricter on the matter. There are different procedures for illegal immigrants, legal immigrants and refugees and these people, along with the country that receives them, spend a lot of money and time to determine their official status. Even European countries donand’t have a unified approach to the problem. It is obvious that countries along the Mediterranean coast suffer more.
Italy is especially angry with its European partners and, as a result, has for some time provided travel documents that allow immigrants to go to other European countries while EU countries tell Italy to keep all of them or pay for their travel back to their country of origin.
The problem is growing, so EU countries feel the need to find a common answer very quickly. The first solution they have devised is to warn ships carrying illegal immigrants to turn back, force them to change course or arrest them upon arrival in the destination country. Letand’s imagine for a moment European naval forces sinking ships full of civilians and the consequences of such an act. Some people may think that sinking one or two ships as an example would deter others, but one has to remember that all fortresses are sooner or later conquered.
The second proposal was to share the burden of these immigrants. According to this, Mediterranean members of the EU who receive the vast majority of illegal immigrants will be able to send some of them to other member countries. Every EU member will have to declare how many people it can receive, which would be ideal for Italy or Greece but will make things complicated for countries like Germany and the UK. Considering that British Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to hold a referendum on continued membership in the EU, one can hardly imagine he will accept such a measure.
A relatively small member of the EU, Austria has already declared that it can accept the measure, so it seems the problem is mainly between the EUand’s major players while small members are ready to accept a compromise.
In order to reject the measure, Germany may even claim that it has nothing to do with the reigning misery in Africa, as the country never had an important colonial empire.
In brief, illegal immigration has become a humanitarian crisis, but EU member countries worry little about the humanitarian aspects of the situation. They use the crisis in their battle for influence within the EU, which is why immigration has become a critical challenge for the future of the union.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman