Politics

European Leaders Finally Acknowledge Grave Threat Posed by Migrant Crisis

Observer says damage will last 'decades' as Macron and Merkel call emergency summit on refugees

Two years after the start of the European migrant crisis, governments across Western Europe are finally discussing efforts to significantly slow the steady flood of refugees into the continent.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron will host an emergency summit with several African and European leaders to discuss ways to mitigate the ongoing crisis. Government officials representing Chad, Niger and Libya — the primary African countries of departure for migrants heading to Europe — and their German, Italian and Spanish counterparts will be in attendance.

Also on Monday, Germany — whose chancellor, Angela Merkel, will also attend the France summit — announced a new deal with Egypt designed to stem the flow of migrants. Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters on Monday that the deal would “fight illegal immigration and the criminal smuggling of people.”

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“Under this agreement, there are a number of measures for political and economic support so that a better climate and better living conditions can be achieved for refugees in Egypt,” Seibert said Monday during a press conference in Berlin. “Together, we will set up a center for jobs, migration and reintegration.”

Conservative observers said the German chancellor may finally be acknowledging the terrible impact the unrestrained flow of refugees has wrought on Europe and how unpopular the decision has been.

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“Merkel’s policy to throw the borders of Germany, and therefore the EU, open to migrants has proven one of the most unpopular policy decisions in recent history,” said Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of The Bow Group, the U.K.’s oldest conservative think tank, to LifeZette. “The rise in terrorist and sex attacks coupled with pressure on infrastructure have led to a policy U-turn in many EU countries, and others to place a hard block on non-EU migration.”

The moves by France and Germany come amid the continued refusal of some Eastern European countries to comply with the EU’s migrant resettlement schemes, and after Italy, frustrated with European inaction, began to unilaterally train the Libyan coast guard to crack down on migrant smuggling vessels.

Last week, Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the United Nations-backed unity government in Libya, who is attending today’s meeting in France, warned that terrorists could be taking advantage of the migrant crisis.

“When migrants reach Europe, they will move freely,” wrote al-Sarraj in an op-ed published by The Times of London. “If, God forbid, there are terrorist elements among the migrants, a result of any incident will affect all of the EU.”

Some, however, doubt that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is as concerned with European security as she is with the security of her own political future. The German September elections are fast approaching, and Merkel may be concerned with losing votes to the anti-migrant AfD Party.

“A German government under Angela Merkel is unlikely to genuinely wish to decrease migration, but the German public are serious in their anger and will want to see action by their government, or a new government,” noted Harris-Quinney. Merkel told the German press on Sunday, in fact, that she would make the exact same decisions as she did in 2015 if presented with the opportunity to go back and do so again.

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But even were the flow of migrants into Europe to utterly cease tomorrow, Europeans would still be left with a significant population of migrants within their countries.

“For many EU nations that have retained border security, like Hungary and Poland, the effects have been minimal and can quickly be reversed,” noted Harris-Quinney. “It has led to tempers fraying between EU leaders, however, with a war of words developing between Macron in France and Orbán and Szydło in Hungary and Poland.”

“It will be impossible for France and Germany to integrate such large numbers of migrants over such a short space of time,” he said. “It is difficult to see how this won’t have a major long-term effect on the future of those nations, and it is likely that they will continue to experience terrorism and social unrest for decades to come.”

(photo credit, homepage image: Vito Manzari, Flickr; photo credit, article image: Irish Defense Forces, Flickr)

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