In close cooperation with La Razón, the European Student Thinktank has produced another article for the Spanish newspaper. Secretary Sietse Blom writes about the way European countries react to the waves of refugees and shares his opinion on the recent quota policy of the EU.
This turbulent time of the migrant crisis demands of Europe to overcome fear and greed, and to act in a humane way in their approach to offering shelter to refugees.
Are the quota a suitable answer to the refugee crisis in Europe? Or do you think this will divide Eastern Europe from the rest of Europe?
In the short term this will probably lead to a broader gap between Eastern and Western Europe. However, the division between West and East is not that clear when one notices a country like France lacks in offering shelter to the thousands of refugees. In the long term this division will not last I believe, because Eastern European countries have a lot more to gain from their cooperation with the West than vice-versa. Most Eastern European countries are still net receivers of money from countries like Germany and Belgium (the West). Moreover, the Western countries have in the past helped the ex-communist countries in their democratic transition and their change from capitalist economies to market economies. All this has strengthened the East’s need for continued cooperation. Although the amount of fear in these countries for Muslim immigrants is very high, they should not let this be the decisive factor in their approach of dealing with the waves of homeless people. Remembering the refugees coming from Eastern European countries like Kosovo not that long ago, they should return the favour to the refugees now. When speaking of the refugees, one hears mention of them being fortune hunters a lot. Fleeing from a country at war, with no home, safety or work does not seem like fortune hunting to me. Still, one might argue that the refugees should stay at the first European country where they arrive, because they are safe there. The current quota policy offers a perfect solution to this problem. When the refugees are spread fairly over the EU countries, it will not help for them to undertake a journey. The quota will keep the refugees in their allocated country, because in a ‘better’ country they will not receive a residence permit. Nevertheless, this journey seems quite understandable when one should imagine being the refugee himself. Wanting to have a chance at finding a job, social security, and most importantly a country that does not discriminate you, seems quite logical then.
Do you think it is one of the weak points of the European Union in this migrant crisis to agree upon a quota for the refugees, since the future will bring many more refugees?
No. I believe it is the only real solution available. Countries as wealthy as the ones belonging to the EU should not close off their borders to those in need of safety and shelter. The immigrants will bring problems in some cases, true, but the alternative is to ignore the refugee crisis like a lot of Middle Eastern countries do. Where then will these people be welcome? The EU has finally chosen the just and only humane option there is, dividing the refugees over the European countries. The future will undoubtedly bring more and more refugees. The agreement on a quota however offers a strong footing for future policies and shows the world that the EU does not run away from its moral obligation.
Is closing the border a solution that will make the refugees stay in the first country they arrive in?
Only if Europe as a whole decided to build a fence from Portugal to Estonia, this approach would work. It is impossible to close up every possible place where refugees could pass the European border, there will always be a way for them to pass into the border countries. It is an easy argument to make that ‘the region’ should give shelter to more refugees, but the region has done its share and is beginning to reach its maximum capacity of offering shelter. Besides, shutting the borders is not something EU countries are willing or permitted to do. Most European countries, with Germany at a distinct lead, are still willing to help the immigrants find a safe secure home. Another point is that countries are not permitted to shut of their borders to political refugees, something agreed upon in the European Convention on Human Rights. The way countries like Hungary treat the homeless refugees by building fences and shutting the border, is therefore not only inhumane but also illegal!