Monday, March 7, 2016

Schengen and the European Migration Crisis

The Schengen Area. The Agreement signed on 14 June 1985 on a boat on the Moselle near the small town of Schengen (Luxembourg), by five of the ten states that formed the European Community at that time, effectively abolished passport controls and any other border control among the signatories thus treating the area as a single country. The Agreement was supplemented by the Schengen Convention of 1990, establishing a common visa policy. Initially the Schengen Area was separate from EU structures, as at that time the initiative lacked general consensus, but its rules and procedures were incorporated into European Union law by the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, coming into effect in 1999. The five initial signatories (the three Benelux countries, France and Germany), were gradually followed by another 17, thus encompassing all EU member states except Ireland and the UK that opted out, and four others – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania – who wish to join and are obliged to join eventually but are not yet deemed to be ready. All four EFTA member states – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – are also associated members of the Schengen Area although they are not members of the EU. In addition, three European microstates – Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City – are considered de facto participants. Today the Schengen Area has a population of over 400 million people.
Net gains. The creation of the Schengen Area was - in principle – an excellent decision. The effective elimination of internal borders within the Area generated considerable savings in terms of travel time and convenience for passengers, expenditure on custom officials and equipment, higher speed and lower cost of commodity transport. A recent study by Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation estimates the cost of the possible breakdown of the Schengen area at between €470bn and €1.4 trillion over the next decade, (roughly 10% of the 28-members EU bloc GDP) due to an increase in import prices of between 1% and 3%. Germany would lose between €77bn and €235bn and France between €85.5bn and €244bn under the two scenarios. The breakdown of the Schengen Area would also inflict a heavy burden on other countries, with a combined loss for the United States and China over the next decade estimated by the same study at between €91bn and €280bn. The European Commission estimated that the permanent reintroduction of border controls would cost between €5bn and €18bn a year because of lower tourism and transport delays. These estimates perhaps may be slightly exaggerated, but there can be no doubt that in the current, long and severe depression of the European economy, the impact of a Schengen breakdown, even if partial, would worsen significantly the growth prospects of the Union, with global reverberations.

Migrations. In the half-century 1960-2010 the ratio of the population working in countries different from that of their birth over the world population (corrected for the displacements which occurred at the end of World War II in 1945) was relatively stable around 3%, though with a clear tendency to accelerate that was much more marked for South-North migrations (see the figure below, where the value of that ratio in 1960 is taken as equal to 1).  
Source: Docquier, Frédéric and Joel Machado (2015), “Revenu, Population et Flux Migratoires au 21ème siècle: Un défi sociétal pour l’Europe” in Studia Oeconomica Posnaniensia, October 2014.
In subsequent years the acceleration continued. In 2015 migrants entering Europe mostly from the Middle East and Africa turned into a veritable flood – the largest flows to take place since 1945 – that put the Schengen arrangements to a most severe test: EU states received 1.3 million asylum applications, especially from Syria. On 24 August 2015 Angela Merkel announced that all Syrian asylum-seekers were welcome to remain in Germany regardless of which EU country they had first entered. She adopted this “open door” policy unilaterally, without EU agreement, after consultation solely with the Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann; subsequently there were signs of intended policy reversal but tightening up was only slight (for instance preventing relatives joining migrants for at least a year) thus provoking an intensification of the inflow because of the migrants’ expectation of harder times; a recent poll found that 81% of the German population thought that the government had lost control over migration policy. The Bertelsmann Stiftung estimates that by mid-February 2016 an even larger number of Syrians alone had found their way into Jordan (640,000), Lebanon (over 1 million) and Turkey (2.6 million); Pakistan and Iran have taken several hundred thousand migrants from Afghanistan and Iraq respectively. In 2015 migrants crossing the sea from Turkey to Greece increased 20 times with respect to 2014. Last November the EU granted €3bn to Turkey as an inducement to hold migrants there at least temporarily, but three months later 2,000 migrants still cross daily into Europe: in order to take back non-Syrians the Turks are negotiating for more aid and other benefits such as visa-free travel to Europe, which in turn would generate a significant inflow of Turkish Kurd asylum seekers into Europe. Arrivals in Italy decreased slightly in the same period, from 170,000 to 154,000, which still represent a very large intake. For an up to date survey see Breugel, 12 February, and The Economist, interactive graphics, 6 February.
In May 2015 Branko Milanovic wrote a post in Social Europe, “Five reasons why migration into Europe is a problem with no solution”: 1) deep-seated and permanent factors such as political chaos in the Middle East and extraordinarily huge and increasing income gaps between Europe and Africa, with sub-Saharan population poised to increase almost by six times by 2100; 2) lack of an immigration tradition in Europe; 3) European political blunders due to a combination of incompetence and arrogance, such as overthrowing Gaddafi, the ultimatum to the previous Ukrainian government, and the handling of the Greek crisis; 4) the increasing influence of right-wing, populist anti-immigration parties in several European countries, even when they are not in government; 5) the total lack of strategies, policies and ideas at the European level, while the crisis calls for a multilateral solution involving co-ordination among member-states and with African countries and the European recognition that an influx from Africa is dictated by demographic and economic gaps: “Unfortunately, neither of these two conditions is close to being satisfied. So the problem, among permanent political improvisation, will continue to worsen” – he wrote prophetically. (In a post in the same series last January Branko stressed the economic positives and negatives of migrations; see also his forthcoming book Global Inequality - A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, Belknap Press).
The Schengen Area rules include provisions for temporary border controls to be re-established in case of urgency, for up to 2 and 6 months, and for outright suspension for up to 2 years in the case of threats to public order. Since the 2015 summer temporary measures have been already implemented unilaterally by several countries. Hungary closed its borders with Serbia, Romania and Croatia, allowing its army to use rubber bullets, tear gas and barbed wire against migrants. In November Slovenia started building its own fence along the Croatian border; its Parliament recently approved the deployment of the country’s army to manage the migrants’ flow at its borders. An increasing numbers of migrants have been cutting through these barriers to enter the EU.

Warren Richardson, Hope for a New Life. A man slides a child under barbed wire at the border between Serbia and Hungary at Röszke, Hungary, 28 August 2015. (World Press Photo)
Sergey Ponomarev, Russia, The New York Times, The European migration crisis: Refugees arrive by boat near the village of Skala on the Lesbos Island, Greece, 16 November 2015 (World Press Photo)

The closing of Sche­­ngen internal borders has accelerated since the beginning of 2016. In Denmark the government extended passport checks on the German border for the third time, with Sweden keeping similar checks for travellers arriving from Denmark. France is in the process of closing down the so-called “Jungle” migrant camp at Calais, whose estimated 5,500 residents were waiting to smuggle themselves to the UK on ferries, or through the Chunnel in trucks, trains or even on foot; the closure was violently resisted. Belgium reintroduced border controls on its frontier with France, hiring 290 extra-police officers to try and stop the Calais migrants from moving to its coastline. Austria has built a wall at its frontier with Slovenia; in under two months in 2016 it received 101,000 migrants compared with 4,000 in the same period last year, and has introduced a cap of 80 asylum applications per day.  Borders have been tightened between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece, allowing Syrians and Iraqis through but barring Afghans, who then were banned also by Croatia. Towards the end of February over 22,000 migrants were stranded in Greece and were expected by the Greek Migration Minister and Vice-premier to treble by the end of March; the UN estimates their number to be increasing even faster, at the rate of 3,600 per day. The Greek border with Macedonia has been nearly sealed off, threatening to turn Greece into a giant refugee camp – a “warehouse of souls” (Tsipras). 

The EU is planning to provide Greece with €700mn over 3 years (of which 300mn in 2016 for emergency assistance to migrants); reasonable proposals to trade off migrant assistance for Greek debt cancellation have been rejected as a moral hazard risk. On 24 February in Vienna ten eastern European countries – with the much resented exclusion of Germany, Greece and Italy – agreed on tightening up their own border controls with a view to stop the Western Balkan route into Europe, which of course will shift the flow back to the Mediterranean route into Italy. On 29 February at the Macedonian-Greek border “crowds of migrants were beaten back from storming a fence with a salvo of tear gas” (FT, 1 March). The current migration assault is even more serious than the Euro crisis, as Angela Merkel recently acknowledged.
Last November Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, declared that Europeans had only a few months to save the Schengen system. On 21 February Thomas de Maizière, Germany's Interior Minister, stated that EU member states must agree a common approach to tackle migrations ­“within two weeks if they wanted to avoid the system’s complete collapse. On 4 March the European Commission unveiled a plan, Back to Schengen, “to lift all remaining border controls by December 2016, so as to return to a normally functioning Schengen Area before the end of the year”. The options considered involve sharing out asylum seekers across the EU on a quota basis regardless of where they first arrived, either as a general procedure or only if a country is overwhelmed by a sudden influx. The IX Report on European Security reveals that a poll conducted in early 2016 among 1000 respondents each in Italy, Spain, France and Germany gives a majority of over 75% in favour of the reintroduction of border controls either unconditionally (56% in Italy) or in special circumstances (Repubblica, 7 March).
The Schengen crisis should not take anybody by surprise. The writing has been on the wall for a long time. The introduction of the Euro as a common currency had equally been an excellent idea, which however failed because it was premature before political, fiscal and banking integration; incomplete due to the ECB lacking powers as Lender of Last Resort to the EU and the member states; and because the Eurozone was subject to increasing divergence in the member states’ fundamentals. The Euro crisis was also made worse by austerity policies perversely enforced by the German-led European authorities. Precisely the same kind of criticisms apply to free internal travel within the Schengen Area: premature, incomplete and made worse by country divergence and recessionary austerity. On the impact of austerity on migrations and convergence see Michelle Baddeley, "Convergence, Divergence and Migration in an Age of Austerity", Seminar paper, Cambridge 2016:

he ability for host societies and economies to adapt will be constrained by limits on government spending. Infrastructure investment is needed in the very shortterm, including emergency infrastructure to support the immediate consequences of migration e.g. within refugee and migrant camps. Infrastructure investment will also be essential in the medium to long term to ensure that growing migrant populations have proper access to social infrastructure including housing, schools, hospitals and other medical services. Without this investment, the prospects for growing inequality, deprivation and socio-political unrest are likely to be severe – exacerbating divergences at many levels: between the global South and North, between Northern and Southern parts of the EU, and within countries depending on how different regions’ populations are affected by migration and/or how much access they have to public finance for infrastructure investment.

Three considerations are in order:
1.Free internal travel requires strong external controls. Just like a Free Trade Area requires a common external tariff barrier, free internal travel obviously requires a common external border, with a common Coast Guard, border guards and if necessary a common Army, all provided and paid for centrally. The Schengen external borders, on the contrary, are delegated to national, fragmented, uneven and inadequate controls (in spite of the rudimentary Frontex agency and the recent intervention of NATO ships patrolling the Aegean Sea). Moreover existing controls do not include brutal repression, and this humanitarian restraint is more labour-intensive. Shooting trespassers on sight, as East German guards protecting GDR borders used to do with attempted exits, is not yet reached but arrest and imprisonment in Hungary (and the extra-Schengen UK) have been, as well as the use of tear gas and rubber bullets elsewhere.
Schengen external borders are a sieve that allows through indiscriminately legitimate refugees, escaping directly from persecution and war, and economic migrants, i.e. those refugees who had already reached a safe country, or other migrants who are simply seeking to improve their standard of living. The difference between refugees and economic migrants (both classed here as migrants) is elusive, as even refugees will tend to move towards countries with higher employment opportunities and/or income, thus abandoning their “first safe country” status. This difference is fundamental: refugees are protected by UN regulation on reaching their first safe haven, the others are still subject to national endorsement and control. And even if a policy of completely open doors was adopted towards economic migrants, the speed of the migratory inflow would still have to be subject to national control. In fact the capacity to absorb immigrants into any given territory is limited at any time by short term available resources, by the country’s capacity to integrate immigrants and, as well, by their own willingness and preparedness to be integrated.
Whether or not immigration brings net benefits to the host country is a controversial matter. On balance it probably does in the long term, but the case of very fast, concentrated mass migration should be considered in its own terms. The possibility cannot be neglected of a mixed distributional impact on workers and firms through greater competition in labour markets, both in the short and long term; of significant additional investment cost in new infrastructures, and - at least in the short term - welfare costs, making immigration a public investment competing with alternative forms of public expenditure. Immigration brings possible cultural enrichment but also possible cultural impoverishment, as well as potential cultural, political, ethnic and religious conflict – even leaving aside the possibility, not entirely implausible, of migration being a vehicle of health contagion and terrorist infiltration. These drawbacks have to be set against the benefit of rejuvenation of an ageing host population, which is associated with mass immigration.
Whatever the true net costs and benefits of immigration, the increasing electoral success of right-wing, populist, anti-immigration parties in most of the developed world signals unambiguously the widespread perception – right or wrong – that the current level and/or rate of immigration are excessive: from Matteo Salvini’s Lega to Nigel Farage’s UKIP, from Jimmie Åkesson’s Swedish Democrats to Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, from the German Alternative für Deutschland to Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz or Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s PiS, Heinz-Christian Strache’s FPO, Milos Freeman’s Civil Rights Party, Marine Le Pen’s Front National, the Finnish and Norwegian anti-immigration parties, as well as shifts in more standard political parties (see the anti-immigration stance of Boris Johnson, mayor of London and David Cameron’s probable successor). In the US the latest polls show that immigration is fourth or lower on public concerns: the anti-immigration vote is overwhelmed by the economy, anti-Elite feelings and security issues, although Donald Trump’s large-scale wall-building and deportation plans may have something to do with his unexpectedly strong bid for the US Presidency.
When existing external borders are not in a position to identify and register all migrants, to distinguish between refugees reaching their first safe haven (which the 1990 Dublin Convention rules, stricter than the UN rules, regard as the first EU country) and all other migrants, it is unavoidable that each Schengen member state will need to reintroduce effective border controls, including visas and passport checks.
The identification of immigrants has been likened to the marking of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, but the comparison is improper, even if identification required the use of force. Identification is essential to verify both the right to residence and entitlement to benefits.
The almost 4,000 migrants that drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the high monetary cost (steeply rising with the spreading of border controls and obstacles) and exposure to violence and other personal risks of migration make the desperate predicament of economic migrants – running away from famine, destitution, drought, environmental and cultural disasters – very close to that of refugees running away from persecution and war. But the difference is still there: refugees have a sacrosanct right to asylum sanctioned by the United Nations, while all others by migrating place themselves at the mercy of their countries of arrival: economic migrants can be refused entry or be repatriated.
Both rejection and forced repatriation are unpleasant and brutal, but an indiscriminate open doors policy would amount to the pretense that the world in which we live, dominated by private property and territory-based democracy, is instead a non-existing utopia of global democracy and universal communism, though limited to the collectivization of social capital. No wonder such a contradictory utopia was never proposed or theorized by anyone. In the world as we know it international solidarity is necessarily a discretionary concession by those who can afford generosity, which can only be exercised collectively if backed by a majority; it is not an automatic right of those who need international solidarity. 
Moreover a policy of indiscriminate open doors to all immigrants, while reducing international inequality across countries will increase internal inequality within countries because of the greater competition in the labour market in the host countries and the impoverishment of the emitting countries, thus leading to a possible and perhaps probable greater global inequality. (The case for repatriation is developed conclusively by Alberto Chilosi, “On the economics and politics of unrestricted immigration”, The Political Quarterly, 73-4, pp. 431–435, October 2002).
All immigrants, whether or not they can be classed as refugees, should be protected from the risks of their journey, in spite of such risks being to some extent the result of their own actions, just as cancer patients are entitled to treatment even if they are smokers (though some may disagree). Preferably the cost of protecting them should be a charge on all Schengen countries, as it is now for the EU Frontex operations, but even if such cost was born by a single country’s taxpayers as in the case of Italy’s Mare Nostrum scheme it would still be desirable.
The trouble is that repatriation is costly, and should be financed by the Schengen countries as it is part of the cost of abolishing internal borders; it requires the agreement of the country of origin or of the first safe country reached, which may be unknown or might no longer exist or might not honour such an agreement (e.g. Pakistan). Moreover it is doubtful whether “pushbacks”, whereby asylum seekers are returned to a country without their application having had a fair hearing, are consistent with both the Geneva Conventions and the EU asylum code. But the fact that repatriation will not always be possible is no reason for not attempting it at least in some cases, if nothing else pour encourager les autres.  Refugees are in a different position because with the settlement of conflict in their own countries they should return home.
On 27 January Sweden – that last year received 163,000 asylum applications, the highest number per capita in Europe – announced a plan to repatriate 80,000 migrants (subsequently reduced to 60,000 then left undetermined) “over  many years”, using aircraft chartered for the purpose, but the plan is still on paper. In the same week 308 economic migrants were sent back by bus from Greece to Turkey; however Turkey will not accept more unless Europe takes more Syrians off their hands – a vicious circle. Rejection looks like a more viable option: in his current visit of the Western Balkans ahead of the EU-Turkey summit Donald Tusk, on 2 March in Zagreb, said that “Member states should refuse entry to third-country nationals who do not meet the necessary conditions or who, although they were able to do so earlier, did not apply for asylum.” (European Council communique’ 3 March). However, the concentration of rejected economic migrants in border camps is bound to create other problems, while the prospect of future rejections can only speed up current migration flows.
2.Free internal travel requires the convergence of living standards within the area (including welfare provisions). Not unnaturally foot-lose migrants who do not have stronger ties (of language, religion, relatives, friends) to a particular country will tend to choose their ultimate destination on the basis of their perception of maximum improvement in their living standard resulting from migration. Employment prospects are likely to be paramount, indeed traditional migration theory (exemplified by the Harris-Todaro model, AER 1970, 60-1) relates the incentive to migrate to wage differences between the home and destination countries weighed by their respective probability of employment (taken as 1 minus the unemployment rate), to which of course one should add the net improvement in welfare benefits. Potential immigrants may well tend to overestimate their perceived income improvement prospects, as they seem to imagine themselves and their children gainfully employed at top salaries; this is one of the factors encouraging migrations beyond reason. When expected income gains diverge across potential destinations, the more attractive countries naturally will tend to be disproportionately vulnerable to migratory inflows. Hence the incentive for destination countries to raise national barriers, and/or discriminate in welfare benefits against immigrants, or dismantle the welfare state tout court for both nationals and immigrants. Even James Meade – a liberal and enlightened economist who proposed a generous generalised basic income – in order to prevent opportunistic immigration recommended that immigrants should be treated by the principle of reciprocity, i.e. enjoy the same benefits, if any, that our nationals might be granted in the migrants’ country of origin. (It has been objected that such a rule might be applied to countries of the same level of development, such as North-North and perhaps South-South, but not to South-North migrations).
The UK is a case in point. Relatively generous benefits granted to immigrants from other EU countries, including social housing, national health entitlements and payments to relatives resident abroad, have led to Cameron attempting to negotiate “emergency brakes” with the EU, subjecting benefits to time restrictions (excluding immigrants for the first four years residence), or to resident family members (possibly restricting family re-joining). Cameron succeeded in negotiating with the EU these kinds of restrictions only for future and not for existing immigrants, which therefore strengthened the conservative government resolve to reduce welfare benefits all round. Meanwhile non-European immigrants to the UK are subjected to a minimum income to be reached within the first 5 years of residence (which has just been raised from £21,000 to £35,000 from next April), under penalty of expulsion after one additional year. New rules will make UK landlords responsible for checking the documents of their tenants, making it harder to find accommodation not only for unauthorized immigrants but also for the 60% UK citizens who do not possess a passport.
3.Any attempt at a fair re-distribution of immigrants among countries requires the re-establishment of national borders. Last July EU Interior Ministers - outvoting Romania, Hungary, the Czech and Slovak republics strongly opposed to the scheme - imposed a plan to relocate 40,000 migrants (24,000 from Italy and 16,000 from Greece) across the EU. In September an additional 120,000 relocations (16,600 from Italy, 54,400 from Greece and 54,000 from Hungary) were added, raising the total to 160,000 in two years, of which 54,000 were postponed to the following year (FT, 25 September 2015). Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, announced a referendum on whether the country should be forced to resettle refugees, on the ground that “Introducing resettlement quotas for migrants without the support of the people is an abuse of power”; he is unlikely to lose that referendum. On 28 February Pope Francis advocated “an equitable re-distribution of the burden of migrants” (thus accepting that immigration is a burden).  However, such kind of a re-location is futile, not to say idiotic, for under Schengen completely free and unrestricted internal travel any immigrant re-located to a country other than his/her preferred destination can at any time, and eventually will, just go there. Indeed we could argue that even the relocation of migrants within a given country might have to be subjected, in order to be done efficiently, to the introduction of internal passports and controls of the kind prevailing in the Soviet Union until 1991, in order to stop immigrants from settling in the capital city and in other metropolitan areas that are already overcrowded and congested and to divert them instead to less developed areas with an abundance of cheap underutilised housing and land.
On 29 February Angela Merkel said it loud and clear: “Migrants may not pick and choose where they are to be settled” (Daily Telegraph, 1 March). She referred to their choice of country, but Germany is indeed unusual in imposing constraints on where migrants can live, both in order to prevent the formation of ghettos in big cities and to direct immigrant flows to the underpopulated regions of the former GDR where there is plentiful social housing and a shortage of young workers. Such a policy had been introduced in the 1990s at the time of a large influx of ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union and Romania. Immigrants have their welfare benefits cut if they move away from their assigned locations. In the UK immigrants who claim social housing and some other benefits are offered it only in the northern rust belt towns.
This kind of restrictions seem necessary to the smoother absorption of immigrants, but paradoxically the European Court of Justice, ruling on a complaint by two Syrians about their German residence requirements, at the end of February 2016 decided that EU rules “preclude” them even if they are aimed at “achieving an appropriate distribution of the burden connected with the benefits”, though it also said that people granted subsidiary protection could be subject to a residence condition “for the purpose of promoting their integration”. Nevertheless German ministers are preparing a law which would expand the existing residence restrictions to refugees whose asylum requests have been approved, in spite of objections from refugee associations (FT, 1 March).
Disintegration?  At present the EU is being subjected to four centrifugal forces (see Munchau, FT 28 February. and Javier Lopez, “Europe in Multiple Organ Failure”): a North-South divide over border controls; another North-South divide about austerity and the Euro; an East-West divide over migrant re-location; and the uncertain implications of Brexit with possible contagion effects on other member states.
It is difficult to disagree with Oxford political scientist Jan Zielonka (Is the EU doomed? Global Futures, Polity Press, London, 2014) when he argues that “Sadly… at present the EU does not facilitate integration, but impedes it”… “The European Union was widely regarded as the most successful modern integration project, but it has turned into an embarrassment”… “No wonder so many citizens lost trust in the EU, and that the process of disintegration is gathering pace.” But Zielonka’s expectation that “A weakening of the EU and its member states will strengthen other political actors such as cities, regions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)” is utterly unconvincing: the solution or even the alleviation of both the Euro crisis and the migration crisis cannot rely on a network of de-centralised power centres but will require a deep degree of centralised initiative and commitment to greater integration. See “A Plan for Europe’s Refugees”, The Economist 6 February:
“Creating a well-regulated system requires three steps. The first is to curb the “push factors” that encourage people to risk the crossing, by beefing up aid to refugees, particularly to the victims of the civil wars in Syria and Iraq, including the huge number who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The second is to review asylum claims while refugees are still in centres in the Middle East or in the “hotspots” (mainly in Greece and Italy), where they go when they first arrive in the EU. The third element is to insist that asylum-seekers stay put until their applications are processed, rather than jumping on a train to Germany.” Unfortunately, “All these steps are fraught with difficulty.”
Prospects might become clearer soon, after the next EU-Turkey summit (7-8 March), the German regional elections (13 March) regarded as a test of Merkel’s immigration policies, and the EU Summit on migration (18-19 March).
There seems to be, however, a constitutional conflict between European and international rules about treaties, revealed by the recent agreement reached by the UK and all the other member states about the special terms negotiated by Cameron for the UK. That Agreement is said to have been deposited within the UN and is therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, which operates on rules different from those of the European Court of Justice competent to enforce the European Treaties. Downing Street has claimed that the EU-UK agreement is legally binding and enforceable, but it is not clear whether any country who did not like it might seek to challenge it in the International Court of Justice. A constitutional crisis of this kind is the last thing that Europe needs today.

Note: I thank Carmen de la Camara, Marilena Giannetti, Tonino Lettieri, Ruggero Paladini and Fabio Sdogati for useful comments on an earlier draft of this post. However they should not be held responsible for any errors or omissions, nor deemed necessarily to agree with any of the propositions put forward here.

The EU-Turkey summit of 7-8 March led to a draft deal whereby Turkey would take back immigrants coming from Greece unless they successfully applied for asylum there, while the EU would take in one Syrian refugee for every immigrant sent back. In exchange Turkey would receive €6bn aid instead of the €3bn already committed but not yet disbursed, accelerate its progress towards EU accession and obtain visa-free travel to the Schengen Area for its 75mn citizens.

In the three German regional elections of 13 March Ms Merkel’s CDU Party retained the possibility of forming coalition governments but lost ground heavily, while her PSD coalition Party that had backed her immigration policies performed even worse. The xenophobic right-wing AfD gained record support.

On 18 March after ten days negotiations the EU and Turkey reached a compromise deal that commanded unanimous support, effective from 20 March. Greece obtained 4000 new personnel to process asylum applications. There would be no collective pushbacks, but starting on 4 April Turkey (that received 2.7 million migrants to date) would take back applicants who did not qualify for asylum in Greece, while the EU would take from Turkey “one for one” as many Syrians up to a ceiling of 72,000. In exchange Turkey would receive €6bn instead of the anticipated €3bn, of which 3bn up front and 3bn at the end of the year; the process of EU accession would be tentatively reopened and EU visa-free travel for Turkish citizens would be granted from next June.

The Greek government’s migration spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis declared that implementation of the deal would require more than 24 hours; Turkey will not take back migrants before 4 April anyway. The 4,000 officials, translators, judges and security guards promised by the EU still have to arrive; eight ships with a capacity of 300-400 passengers each need to be provided by Frontex, together with 30 buses. Thousands of migrants (mostly Syrian, but also Iraqis and Afghans) have continued to arrive in Greece in spite of the agreement. Greece is still relocating migrants from its islands to temporary refugee camps on the mainland. From 4 April a number of failed asylum-seekers (750 in the first week, mostly North Africans, Afghans and Pakistanis) from Greek detention centres will board a vessel chartered by Frontex and be taken to Turkey. In return Germany will take an equivalent number from Turkish refugee camps. These deportations might be illegal and have sparked violent protests but will accelerate in April.

There were still strong objections from humanitarian groups, on the ground that the deal violated international law on the treatment of refugees; Turkey is expected to conform its regulations to international standards, but refused to accept a formal commitment to that effect. European reaction has ranged from welcoming “closed borders” to condemning the “shameful deal”. Wolfgang Munchau, FT 21 March: “The deal with Turkey is as sordid as anything I have seen in modern European politics… The EU not only sold its soul that day, it actually negotiated a pretty lousy deal.”  On 22 March the UN refugee agency announced the suspension of its involvement at all closed centres on the Greek islands, on the ground that so-called “hotspots” for the reception and registration of migrants had turned into “detention facilities” in violation of UN regulations. On 23 March Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Rescue Committee also scaled back their activities in the Greek centres. Following terrorist attacks in Brussels Poland now declared that it can now no longer honour the previous government’s commitment to take a quota of 7,000 refugees out of the 120.000 to be resettled across the EU. In the week following the EU-Turkey deal migration inflows to Greece were reduced drastically, though this might be due to adverse whether conditions in the Aegean.

In the last seven months, Hungary’s courts have held 2,189 trials for border crimes (including on 18 March a blind woman and a man confined to a wheelchair accused of interfering with Hungarian borders last November, FT 22 March) leading to an exceptionally high rate of convictions of 99 per cent. Hungarian judges have chosen expulsions and long entry bans from Schengen countries over prison sentences. On 22 March Frontex was reported saying that it was trying to recruit 150 policemen and 50 officials to be deployed on Greek borders, i.e. it had not succeeded yet.

The Greek-Macedonian border will remain closed, blocking the Balkan route to Northern Europe, leaving tens of thousands migrants stranded in Greece for some time, including Syrians who thought they had been invited by Angela Merkel to come and stay in Germany. It is not clear how the 72,000 asylum seekers would be distributed among member states; once that ceiling is reached the arrangement will be "reviewed", though Central-Eastern EU members are committed to stop at that ceiling. 

The closure of the Balkan route will induce desperate migrants and their smugglers to switch to different and more dangerous routes to Europe, via the Black Sea through Ukraine, via Albania and the Adriatic to Italy, via the South Mediterranean to Italy and Spain (the last two routes having continued to be used especially from Lybia; in the first three months of 2016 immigrants arriving in Italy from the Mediterranean route have doubled). France, Switzerland and Slovenia would then be bound to reintroduce border controls, thus cutting off Italy and possibly Spain from the Schengen area; Austria is already closing the Italian border at Brennero. Liberalisation of travel for Turks would lead to an additional inflow of Turkish Kurds. According to a German think-tank refugee flows this year will amount to an estimated range of 1.8m-6.4m (the higher figure being a worst-case scenario including large numbers from Northern Africa).

Incidentally, on the costs and benefits of mass immigration with special reference to the UK, see R.E. Rowthorn’s excellent Report, 2015.


Mike said...

A NATO general has accused Russia of "weaponising immigration", i.e. deliberately bombing Syria so as to destabilize Europe through intensified migratory flows. Is this a plausible thesis?

D. Mario Nuti said...

On 1 March US General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO in Europe, declared that “Russia and its partners in Syria are using weapons not categorized as having a high degree of accuracy — which leads to mass displacement of civilians and large flows of refugees”; he accused Moscow and Damascus of “turning migration into a weapon” as an aggressive policy to weaken and de-stabilize Europe.

According to the News Agency Novosti, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin promptly responded to the accusations by calling Breedlove an “expert in bombing Afghan weddings” (touche’) and pointing out that the migrant crisis in Europe started before Russia began air strikes in Syria. Surely there is no love lost between Vladimir Putin and the EU, considering European support for the Maidan Square movement in Ukraine, the European sanctions especially at a time of low and falling oil and gas price, the proposed EU-Ukraine association agreement. But there seems to be no incentive for Russia to be deliberately trying to flood Europe with Syrian refugees.

D. Mario Nuti said...

I have received several interesting comments on this post, but via e-mail rather than directly this blog. So I have decided to reproduce them here without identifying the author other than by name or initials.

Paul writes: "Your post is a good and very sensible overview of the situation. It is obvious that the Schengen area needs a proper external border with its own frontier guards. Under current conditions this especially applies to the sea frontiers of Greece and Italy. The popular view that Europe has lost control of its borders and is threatened by uncontrolled immigration is widespread in the EU and threatens to damage it severely. In the Netherlands opinion polls suggest that in national elections (due next year) the Wilders party would emerge as the largest."
"One specific point. You write that the Euro was a good idea but required more integration to work. This neglects a major issue that was not properly understood at the time the Euro was initiated. There are major difference in economic culture in Europe. In Germany, the Netherlands (and possibly elsewhere such as Austria) there is general support for fiscal conservatism and running large current account surpluses. This reflects the successful export sectors in those countries (combined with successful de facto incomes policies). In other countries (France, Italy) there is widespread support for budget deficits and devaluations. This reflects their usefulness in maintaining employment and output for countries with less successful export sectors and greater difficulties in controlling incomes. This divergence makes it very difficult to agree on economic policies that benefit the whole EMU."
"Incidentally, fiscal union as a precondition of the EMU was always a no-go. It would be impossible to sell this to the electorates in the surplus countries."
"Immigration as an economic benefit/loss. Large-scale Immigration certainly undermines the welfare state. For example, a Dutch minister recently stated (in response to IMF statements about the positive economic benefits of immigration) that in the Netherlands immigration was a net loss. What he had in mind is that income transfers go disproportionately to immigrants and their children. This is true. The social benefits system makes many immigrants and their children welfare dependents. On the other hand, in civilized countries we feel that the state should ensure that fellow citizens have a minimum income and that if they do not earn that in the market the state should provide it. Although we identify (to some extent) with fellow citizens with whom we share a language and culture, we do not identify to the same extent with all the inhabitants of the world. As Frank Field MP once remarked, the UK public supports a National Health Service not an International Health Service."
"Your attention to EU policy mistakes is also important. The EU-Ukraine association agreement, if it is agreed/ratified (there is a forthcoming referendum in the Netherlands about it) may well lead to further Russian military incursions into Ukraine. Ukraine is too weak to defend itself against Russia (which has been rearming for some years now) and no European countries will risk war with Russia by defending Ukraine."

D. Mario Nuti said...

Thank you Paul. I am aware of the Nordic obsession with thrift, treating the macroeconomy as if it were a single household, the same German word referring to Guilt and Debt, and German hyper-long memories of their hyper-inflation of almost a century ago, But in our world of global recession, negative inflation and negative interest rates, liquidity trap, large fiscal multipliers, perhaps they might sea sense rather than pretend they live in their fantasy Heile Welt?

Migrations are a thorny problem but then, as a friend of mine put it "Such a thorn cries out for touching, just to feel exactly how sharp it really is". You are right, I have no solutions, let alone simple solutions. Austerity and German steam rolling (see the German-Turk latest deal) make it worse. If I had wanted to go there (an integrated Europe) I would not have started from here.

D. Mario Nuti said...

P.H. writes: Your post doesn't make for very happy or comfortable reading, as basically you seem to be saying that various features of the EU - such as Schengen, the euro, etc. - were introduced too early before the needed political and/or economic conditions were really in place. Likewise with migration, the weak and porous external border of the EU has not so far proved able to deal with the sudden flood of migrants/refugees, there is no credible EU-level policy in place, and the result has been a shambolic return to national 'solutions', most of which are not yet working very well. The whole thing makes the EU look both weak, divided and seriously incompetent. For someone like me, who has basically been quite a supporter of the EU over the years, this is a real disappointment.

My difficulty is, and I probably think about this at times every day, I can't think of a politically feasible and politically viable way forward to get the EU through these difficult times. Your blog did a great job of identifying the problems and explaining why/how they have arisen, but I didn't unfortunately finish the blog thinking, 'Ah yes, that's the solution'. We don't have a solution yet, and it all looks very messy.

R.R. said...

Chilosi is obviously correct. I was always surprised by the degree of self-deception there is amongst the proponents of open borders.

A.B. said...

I am surprised to find you on the same side of those who do not understand that austerity is not a choice, when exchange rate adjustment is prevented. We all know that giving up exchange rate flexibility shifts the burden of adjustment to external shocks onto the labour market. It is pointless to ask Germany to inflate, why should they? The problem is how to create incentives to stop them from deflating, and this is a system of flexible exchange rates, in which case if you adopt a beggar-my-neighbour policy of cutting wages you move into surplus and your exchange rate appreciates (Meade 1957) so that you generate a social conflict at home instead of exporting it to the outside world. And, if Italy adopted a fiscal expansion, would this not generate a balance of payment deficit?

D. Mario Nuti said...

I am a dyed in the wool Keynesian, for many years in King’s College I sat in Keynes’s chair (literally, his armchair, the one that figures prominently in a very famous cartoon), it is too late to change at my age. Yes, a sizeable fiscal expansion in Italy alone would result in a balance of payments deficit, but a Europe-wide concerted fiscal expansion would not necessarily. And it would be less likely if Germany was not running an 8.8% trade surplus and Holland a 12% surplus (instead of 6% which in any case should be 4% maximum like a member state’s deficit). And the EU would not mind if it followed the OECD criteria to calculate the structural deficit. Or if it understood that government borrowing to pay off government arrears towards enterprises is a change of creditors and not an additional net debt. And in any case I thought that one of the advantages of a currency area is that trade balances within the area are paid for in domestic currency, as under Target2. And the Bank of England and the Central Bank of Japan and the Fed are independent but can buy government bonds and fund government deficits, while the ECB cannot. And fiscal multipliers are very large, according to Olivier Blanchard, and negative interest rates wreck bank profitability and viability, while QE is ineffective. Even Larry Summers today advocates fiscal expansion.

Alberto Chilosi said...

I propose you a video-game: go to the site of the World Bank at and fill up the little window on your right, writing a number representing a certain per capita daily income in purchasing parity dollars, and look at how many people in the world have less than that amount. Put for instance 5$ a day and you see that about 3 billion 500 million people are poorer than that. This is certainly much less than the poverty level in European countries: even if by migrating to Europe they expect to stay at the EU poverty level they would gain in strictly economic terms, not to speak about different approaches to law and order, protection of individual rights and other fringe benefits of the legal and cultural environment. In case of open borders the potential supply of migrants to rich countries could be not in millions but in billions. According to the proponents of open borders such as Antoine Pécoud and Paul de Guchteneire (Migration Without Borders, Unesco e Berghahn books, New York, 2007) the influx of migrants would be manageable since people much prefer to stay at home (p. 26). A different logical approach would be the principle of communicating vessels: the massive movement of migrants would go on until average living conditions (or at least the living conditions of the poorer section of the population) in rich countries would be unified with those in poor countries, and this may entail a massive worsening of living conditions in the rich countries (especially of the poorer). This would rectify the basic injustice often stressed by Branko Milanovic that living prospects of any new born person are very much dependent on the country where he was born. So the policy of open borders cannot be certainly refuted from an ethical viewpoint. But those who propose it because of ethical reasons should be ready to face the possible consequences, without hiding head in the sand. Nor the solution to the ethical conundrum can be found in improving the lot of the worse off. This takes time and coherent choices by the people and governments of poorer countries. In the meantime an improvement in the situation of the worse off can result in greater migratory push because migration (and especially illegal migration) requires resources which cannot be mastered by the very poor. This could be an explanation of the recent great migratory push from Africa towards Europe: the average successful development of Africa as a whole in the last decades has provided the resources to finance the migration to Europe, overcoming the poverty trap. Other resources are provided through remittances by those who have migrated successfully (part of the so called “relatives and friends effect”). Finally still more resources are, alarmingly, provided by growing illegal networks of indentured labour, especially labour used for illegal activities.
As far as the EU is concerned the principle of subsidiarity should certainly militate for an adequate central EU border and migratory authority, as suggested by Mario. But first of all in order to do that we need some urgent decisions on the immigration policy to be pursued and how and with what energy to defend the borders. And we are at present very far from that.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Thank you Alberto, I was hoping you might comment. You make a very good case against unrestricted migrations. To which I would add two points briefly mentioned in my post. First, greater equality across country is bound to be accompanied by greater inequality both within the country of origin due to loss of its more skilled and enterprising members, and in the destination country due to greater competition among the poor. Thus global inequality might worsen rather than improve. Second, unrestricted migrations would bring about the collectivisation of social capital within a system of unequal global capitalism, a hybrid that I find more unattractive and repellent than a hypothetical universal communism. And thanks for your reference to the publication on Migrations without borders, which I will be glad to look up at the first opportunity.

You also make two important points that I should have mentioned in my post. First, a marginal improvement in the country of origin reducing the income gap with the destination country might paradoxically promote greater migrations simply because potential migrants are in a better position to beg, steal or borrow the cost of their transport to destination. Second, the attraction of the destination country depends not only on relative wages, employment probability and cash welfare benefits, but on access to basic infrastructure such as drinking water on tap, sanitation, sewage, proper roads, and access to public transport, health services and social insurance.

Sue said...

Large scale migrations to Europe have been caused not so much by Russian deliberate use of imprecise weapons but by the US invasion of Iraq and Anglo-French-Italian intervention in Lybia and other neo-imperialist conflicts. Too late to stop migrations now.

Alberto Chilosi said...

Sue is quite right: under the enlightened rule of Saddam Hussein Irakis were so well off that they had no real reason to emigrate. The same applies to the Africans emigrating north towards Lybia under the enlightened rule of Gheddafi: they had no obvious interest of proceeding further North. And the barrel bombs allegedly launched by Assad against his own people are in fact launched by Nato and the Americans. The civil war in Syria is another neo-imperialist conflict! Indeed, the Arab Springs were another neo-imperialist plot to destabilize the Middle East, in name of democracy, the same dirty word which was used to justify the attack to Saddam.

D. Mario Nuti said...

Alberto does not appear to be convinced by Sue’s comment above, but a similar argument has been put to me by other readers by e-mail. After all, there can be no doubt that George W. Bush and Tony Blair lied about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and in a recent interview with The Atlantic magazine Barak Obama specifically blamed David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy for Lybia’s mess, which he is said to refer privately as a “shitshow” (

The point is that nobody other than the most rabid anti-immigration propagandist is challenging the right to asylum of refugees fleeing from war and discrimination on arrival to their first safe country. What is under discussion is only their right to choose other destinations, either under the EU Dublin rule that unintendedly makes the first EU country of arrival the first safe country, or under possible relocations or residence restrictions within the EU. I did not recommend relocations or residence restrictions, I simply pointed out that relocations were inconsistent with the Schengen abolition of internal borders and that the efficient re-distribution of refugees would involve residence restrictions.

The acceptance of Sue’s argument does not necessarily lead to unrestricted immigration, as she seems to believe, of the kind that at least until now was the undesired implication of Schengen sieve-like external borders, and actually has been advocated for instance by the contributors to the volume Migration without Borders edited by Antoine Pécoud and Paul de Guchtenei cited by Chilosi (which can be accessed oat At most her argument might lead – if it were politically feasible, which it is not – to the indictment of GWBush, Tony Blair, Sarkozy and Cameron as war criminals, not to a case for unrestricted immigrations, to which the reservations put forward by me, Chilosi (and apparently also by Paul and RR in earlier comments to this post) still apply.

Alberto Chilosi said...

Sue may have a point in considering the demise of Gaddafi as having contributed to the migrant crisis. As a matter of fact before his demise Gaddafi had an arrangement with the Italian Berlusconi government for contrasting the maritime trips of migrants to Italy in exchange for some advantages. As a consequence migrants coming from far away in Sub-Saharan Africa were kept in Libya under terrible living conditions instead of being allowed to sail for Italy as it was their intention. Gaddafi would use his control of migrants in a stop and go way in order to extract from Italy more and more concessions, but still a drastic limitation in the migrant flows to Italy from Libya was obtained (see on this
When with the start of the Arab Spring in Libya Gaddafi started to massacre the protesters in the same way as later did Assad in Syria the European leaders decided to impose some sanctions in order to save their soul. Gaddafi took it as a betrayal and promised to avenge himself. In order to avoid to be the object of Gaddafi's vengeance there was no other solution than to get rid of him, and the no-fly zone was established (this is a rather personal reconstruction based on my recollection of those days). If instead of meddling with the internal affairs of their neighbours in the name of human right, democracy and all that the Europeans had maintained only businesslike relations with their partners, the China way, or would have even helped their partners to stem internal rebellions, such as the Russians are doing with Assad, Gaddafi would still been in charge in Lbya and the migration crisis in the Western Mediterranean would have been less severe, albeit with migration controls depending on Gaddafi' s whims. Apparently in this very moment the EU tries the original Berlusconi-Gaddafi way with Erdogan, migration control in exchange of bribes and other concessions, with some additional contributions however for lodging and assisting migrants (which I think it was not the case with Gaddafi). So in this Sue has got a point I agree.

Alberto Chilosi said...

But I don't see how the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq could have contributed to create migration pressures. Let us remember the context. The propensity of Saddam Hussein to wage war to Iraq's neighbours (and even the declared aim to destroy Israel, that was not a neighbour) was held in check after the first Gulf war during the nineties through far-reaching sanctions and occasional bombing of military objectives. But this scheme at the beginning of the new millennium was wearing thin. In particular Putin's resurgent Russia had decided not to go on with sanctions any more and it was all too eager to start again to sell heavy weapons to Iraq, a very good customer at the times of the Iran-Iraq war (those good times, when the Soviet Union had displaced the USA as the greatest world arm exporter) that was still debtor towards Russia of some billions of unpaid bills, if I well remember. This, given Saddam propensities and declared ambitions, would have had a destabilizing effect on the Middle East, with possible creation, sooner or late, of refugee emergences of some sort. But even in case of no further attack by Iraq to some of its neighbours, Saddam Iraq was a time bomb: a vast majority of Shiites oppressed by a violently repressive Sunnite regime. What has happened in Syria would have happened almost certainly sooner rather than later in Iraq, with corresponding massive refugee creation.
Let us turn now to the Anglo-American invasion. It was certainly an illegal and dangerous attempt to change through a military intervention the internal regime of a country, however oppressive and genocidal it was (considering the gassing of rebelling Curd communities under this category), with the very naive and completely unrealistic perspective of making of Iraq an allied democracy along the pattern of post-war Germany and Japan. But I don't see how it could have contributed to the creation of a refugee crisis as such, especially in comparison to the alternative probable scenarios.
Finally, let us turn to what Mario refers as the lie of the weapons of mass destruction. According to my understanding it was not a lie: the Americans really thought that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction because of the following two reasons:
1. If it was a lie the Americans after the military occupation of Iraq would have not bothered to look for the assumed weapons of mass destruction for a whole month, if I well remember, without founding them. They would have found them immediately, after having planted them according to some pre-organized procedure.
2. Saddam before the invasion gave the impression with his behaviour to really have weapons of mass destruction, for instance by barring the international inspectors from the so-called presidential palaces areas.

Uncle Bob said...

Tony Blair a liar?

‘I wouldn’t call it a lie,’ a former cabinet secretary is quoted as saying. ‘You can deceive without lying, by leaving a false interpretation uncorrected (see the book review of Tom Bower, ’Broken Vows: Tony Blair, The Tragedy of Power, in today’s FT)

D. Mario Nuti said...

Sure, there is a long tradition of being "economical with the truth", or "with the actualite'" as Alan Clark put it in 1992 at the Arms for Iraq trial. But no, Tony Blair was a straight liar, by his own recent admission.

Don said...

Indicting GWBush, Tony Blair, Sarkozy and Cameron as war criminals sounds like a good idea. But why are you leaving out Hillary Clinton? She both approved the Iraq invasion (over one million dead) and in 2011 advocated military intervention in Lybia.

Alberto Chilosi said...

An addendum: the agreement under discussion with Turkey is illegal, as it was the old Berlusconi agreement with Gaddafi. Under the present legal framework expulsions of those who have attained a desired European state are almost impossible in a world of massive migrant inflows, be they “true refugees” or not. And refoulement at sea to the port of departure are illegal: see

Marco said...

Even if the EU-Turkey was legal, it is certainly inopportune, given Erdogan's authoritarian policies, his poor record on freedom of the press and human rights, his war with the Curds, his oil purchases from Zaesh, and Turkey's failure to date to satisfy the necessary pre-conditions for making progress with EU accession. Basta!

Alberto Chilosi said...

I completely agree. The agreement by Berlusconi with Gaddafi was even more objectionable. The problem with this as with other practical cases is always about the outside option. What do you propose?

Alberto Chilosi said...

To finance, even generously, and help to organize a decent upkeep of the refugees in the refugee camps in Turkey is fair. All the rest is not and should be avoided. Could the Eu use as a countehrweight to Erdogan's pressure the threat of a suspension of Turkey access to the EU market for instance? Could this be institutionally feasible?

D. Mario Nuti said...

It might have been feasible until recently, but now Erdogan appears to be playing a very strong hand. Anyway the deal might come unstuck, with UN and refugees organisations denouncing it as illegal, Cyprus possibly vetoing it, and so on.

Herman said...

Thank you for the excellent overview of the migration problem in Europe. In Greece, the government's dogmatic unconditional support of open borders (combined with the disingenuous expectation that migrants would always be in transit if their passage to Europe were facilitated and that, therefore, the open borders policy was costless), undoubtedly contributed to the huge increase in the number of migrants last year.

Socrates said...

The sheer scale of the migration disaster seems to escape general understanding.
In 2015 885,709 illegal border crossings were detected in Greece, of which 876,777 from Turkey. How many thousand asylum applicants is Greece expected to process, house, feed and return to Turkey? In 2011 the European Court of Justice banned Eu member states for sending asylum seekers to Greece, "unacceptable, degrading, unsanitary", what has changed? And Turkey is not a "safe third country", as it grants temporary protection rather than refugee status, has a backlog of 140,000 unprocessed applications (only 3,000 were processed last year). And... And...

Alberto Chilosi said...

Things are even more complicated than that.
"According to a Gallup World Poll
survey 32% of the entire population of Sub-Saharan Africa
would emigrate permanently if they had the opportunity...This
percentage is equivalent to 308 million people wanting to
leave in 2015, rising to a projected 685 million by 2050
because of population growth...In addition there
would be many millions from the Middle East and South
Asia." (Rowthorn The Costs and Benefits of
Large-scale Immigration p. 75). The present rules concerning the processing of illegal immigrants and would be refugees belong to other times, another era. What different rules should be adopted is an open question.

URL said...

The European migration crisis is intractable: there can only be a pan-European solution, but there is total and deep disagreement among the member states.

zoltan said...

Islamic terrorism - exemplified by outrages in Brussels, Paris, Ankara, London etc etc - does not make the peaceful absorption of immigrants any easier. The jihad is going to result in getting Donald Trump as US President. And, frankly, why not?

D. Mario Nuti said...

It is not just a problem of disagreement among member states, but worse, of inconsistency in the position of individual countries, which do not seem to agree within themselves (eg supporting relocation of migrants and the simultaneous maintenance of Schengen).

And no, Trump is no solution, he cannot repatriate 11 million Mexicans, and would lose money if he did for he would no longer profit from their exploitation, and Mexicans are not a problem anyway. And he would withdraw support from NATO, instead of mobiliszing it in the jihad.

Bog said...

Last December Russia fired Kalibr cruise missiles at Syria from a submerged submarine in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. President Putin said that the new missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads: "Naturally, we do not need that in fighting terrorists, and I hope we will never need it.” (The Independent, 6 December 2015). By implication, Putin actually contemplated this possibility. Perhaps now the time has come to reconsider.

D. Mario Nuti said...

ISIS has shifted from the capture of cities in Syria and Iraq to striking civilian targets in Europe. This is probably their response to losing territory under their direct control. But nuking them? You are not serious, millions innocent victims would be a remedy not only ineffective but infinitely worse than the current evil.

MMM said...

We seem to have the worst of all possible worlds. Legitimate refugees being hustled, repressed and stranded in dreadful conditions, and unstoppable and unrestrained economic migrants including dangerous terrorists. Not good, is it?

D. Mario Nuti said...

Fair comment, MMM, this is how it is at the moment. Clearly refugees cannot be dumped on one or two neighbouring countries and must be re-distributed instead across a wider area (the world, ideally), while admission of economic migrants must be subject to the democratically expressed agreement of their destination country.

Alberto Chilosi said...

'Love your neighbour as yourself.'
Your neighbour, not those who are distant.
In order to become neighbours those who are distant must travel long stretches. If not they are almost invisible. Remember Adam Smith's little finger: "If he was to lose his little finger to-morrow, he would not sleep to-night; but, provided he never saw them, he will snore with the most profound security over the ruin of a hundred millions of his brethren, and the destruction of that immense multitude seems plainly an object less interesting to him, than this paltry misfortune of his own." Television nowadays let us see far away disasters, but still, when they are far away we are not so impressed: a gruesome terrorist attack in Iraq or Afghanistan, even if seen in Television, does move us much less than the same kind of gruesome attack in Paris or Brussels. So we are much less prone to assist asylum seekers when they are still close to their original neighbourhood than when they arrive to our shores. This is psychologically understandable, but quire irrational. From a rational viewpoint we should strive to reach the best humanitarian result with the minimum economic and social disruption. And in general this means to assist would be asylum seekers closer to their homes. It is much more cost effective to improve the life of the Syrian refugees by financing medical care and education, as well as survival, in camps in Southern Turkey (where they are hosted by their mainly Islamic neighbour, close to them by geography and culture) or in some internationally protected safe areas inside Syria itself than to have them come in millions to Europe looking for a better economic life, like the multitudes of would be migrants from many other countries of the world. Once the Syrian civil war will be over (even gruesome civil wars do not last for ever) they would be able to go back to their homes (or rather the sites where their homes were standing) and start again their life there without becoming a permanent burden to the country of immigration (and in some cases a permanent asset, which would be taken away for good from Syria). In reality what the multitudes marching towards Germany and Northern Europe want is a better life, not simply humanitarian protection, they are obvious economic migrants. The case for accepting them is the same as to have open borders for all the worse off in search of a better life.

Anonymous said...

Cheer up, now at last President-elect DJ Trump is going to build a big wall on the Mexican border and repatriate "two to three million illegal migrants" as soon as he takes office.

D. Mario Nuti said...

I very much doubt that he can do better than Obama:
"Since coming to office in 2009, Obama’s government has deported more than 2.5 million people — up 23% from the George W. Bush years. More shockingly, Obama is now on pace to deport more people than the sum of all 19 presidents who governed the United States from 1892-2000, according to government data."
And the wall on the Mexican border partly is already there, partly has been downgraded to a "fence".