welcome to European politics decoded where Benjamin Fox and Eleonora Vasques offer you every Thursday an overview of political news in Europe and beyond.
In this edition, we look at the endless question of migration and how Europe is dealing with it (or not).
Editor’s Opinion: Europe’s Unsolvable Migration Crisis
New Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s first test of migration control has seen the deliberate pushback of asylum seekers, mostly adult men, into the Mediterranean Sea.
Last week, nearly 1,000 asylum seekers arrived in Italy via four boats operated by NGO boats. The Italian government initially tried to prevent passengers from disembarking altogether, before only allowing cases considered “vulnerable” by Italy.
The response followed the usual pattern: outrage and statements of the obvious.
Meloni insists his government has not broken international law. Migration and human rights experts, however, say yes. The European Commission underlined the legal obligation to save lives “whatever the circumstances that lead people to find themselves in a situation of distress”, in order to avoid a “humanitarian tragedy”.
Pope Francis has urged EU countries to share the responsibility for welcoming migrants and not just leave it to the countries of arrival.
The Commission insists that its existing ‘solidarity mechanism’ means that ‘a significant number of relocation places are available to help alleviate some of the pressure through relocation to other Member States’.
However, the “solidarity mechanism” is hardly worth the paper it is written on. Meloni asked other member states to offer relocation, including his friend and political ally, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Orbán, who, needless to say, remained silent in response.
What we can say with virtual certainty is that this situation will repeat itself in the months to come and that the Mediterranean Sea will continue to be an aquatic cemetery for thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa fleeing war and persecution or simply seeking a better life. .
The failure of EU lawmakers to revise the Dublin Regulation and adapt its immigration and asylum rules is one of the most flagrant of the 21st century, although the UK’s hesitant attempts to deal with the dozens of migrant boats crossing the Channel underscore that this is not just a European problem.
The EU executive insists that its latest version of a “new pact on migration and asylum” will provide a “sustainable framework” to deal with the migration situation in the Mediterranean.
The Commission and the European Parliament also promised that a deal would be reached before the next European elections in spring 2024, but gave no details on how and why. As promises are made, this one looks like the most wishful thinking.
Furthermore, even if the new EU immigration laws were adopted tomorrow, they would not solve the fundamental problem that few national asylum and immigration systems are equipped to process applications quickly.
The most effective political solution – at least in the short term – has been to strike money deals for migrants with countries like Turkey and Morocco. It worked as both countries strictly controlled their European border.
The problem with this approach is that it gives these countries the ability to weaponize migration by opening borders for a day or a few hours, which means they have leverage to demand further concessions from the government. EU.
Belarus used this tactic with Poland earlier this year, and Morocco did it with Spain. It is expensive and ultimately impractical.
The boats keep coming and Europe’s sea borders are too big to watch. Until all European states recognize that it is a common problem and a purely ‘Fortress Europe’ approach cannot work, migration will remain an intractable problem.
Charts of the week
The graph below shows the number of asylum applications since 2008. Note the increase during the 2015 crisis as well as the slight decrease during the pandemic.
However, applications are expected to grow due to the deep instability of parts of Africa and the Middle East in particular and the long-term effects of climate change.
Graphic credits: European Commission. Eurostat data.
Who is an electoralist?
US midterm elections. While the count is still on, we seem to be looking at a split in Congress, with a Democratic Senate and a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. For the Republicans, the big winner is Ron DeSantis, confirmed as governor of Florida for the third time. He is widely seen as a viable candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, reported the BBC, potentially setting the stage for a primary battle with former President Donald Trump.
It is a quiet month for elections in Europe. november will see local elections in Slovenia. The Slovenian mayors of the 212 municipalities will be elected on November 20 (first round) and December 4 (second round).
Capitals in brief
Erdogan’s foreign policy blackmail. As long as Sweden has relations with Kurdish organizations, there will be no green light from Turkey for NATO membership, it seems. A similar dynamic occurred in 2019, when Turkey invaded Rojava (northern Syria) and told the EU not to intervene unless it wanted large numbers of migrants to enter. Europe.
NGO boats against Italy. Copy the precedent set by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in 2018, The government of Giorgia Meloni blocked the landing boats carrying hundreds of asylum seekers this week, demanding relocation to other EU countries.
Macron unveils French industry’s decarbonization strategy. French President Emmanuel Macron presented its carbon reduction targets for the industrial sector on Tuesday, November 8, highlighting the need to invest in greener industry and counter US protectionism.
EU negotiators reached an agreement Tuesday evening on mandatory emissions cuts in different sectors, such as construction, road transport, agriculture and waste. According to common positionEU countries will have to reduce their emissions by 40% compared to 2005 levels in these sectors, which are currently not regulated by the Union’s carbon market, the emissions trading scheme for the EU.
The EU imposes a meeting ban on British officials. EU officials have been told not to hold meetings with their British counterparts unless they are strictly related to the war in Ukraine or are ‘legally required’, in the latest indication of relations freezing between Brussels and London.
In a note circulated to senior officials of the European CommissionSeen by EURACTIV, Commission Secretary-General Ilze Juhansone requested that “all Directorates-General and Services inform the General Secretariat of any requests for bilateral meetings with UK officials or UK stakeholders. Uni to do or who received, regardless of seniority level”.
Microsoft is facing a new EU antitrust complaint from competing cloud services. A long-standing criticism that Microsoft has set itself unfair terms for running software services, like Windows, on competitors’ cloud infrastructure could result in an EU antitrust scrutiny following a new complaint.
The European Commission approves the relocation of migrants and gives priority to saving lives. Member States must support more frontline migrant arrival countries with relocations and prioritize the safety of lives at sea, The European Commission announced on Wednesday (November 9). In the Press releasethe Commission has requested that the 234 survivors of the Norwegian NGO ship Ocean Viking, currently en route to France, be immediately allowed to disembark.
What we read
Next week in politics
- General Affairs Council. EU ministers will discuss the state of play in EU-UK relations, the human rights situation in Hungary, the related Article 7 procedure and the 2023 legislative program which will be presented by the Commission.
- The G20 Summit will take place in Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday and Wednesday.
- Foreign Affairs Council. EU foreign and defense ministers will meet to discuss the war in Ukraine and current events in the Western Balkans. In addition, there will be an exchange of views on the situation in Lebanon, the outcomes of COP27, the upcoming COP 15 and the EU-CELAC ministerial meeting held in Buenos Aires on October 27.
- EU-Kyrgyzstan Cooperation Council. During this meeting, the partners are expected to discuss different aspects of their bilateral relations, including the follow-up to the initialling of the EU-Kyrgyz Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA).
- Political groups and committee meetings in the European Parliament