Migration issues will dominate a meeting of Europe’s leaders this weekend in Malta. With spring around the corner, and refugee numbers in the Mediterranean bound to rise once more, they are looking for a way to prevent the drama of 2015 and 2016 — for a way to keep numbers low.
The current Maltese EU Presidency brought forward the latest proposal, which sees the solution in a deal with Libya — or rather what is left of it — oriented on the previous agreement with Turkey. This idea is not only dangerous in itself, however, it is also a symptom of the EU’s general incapability to solve its overarching migration dilemma.
Since Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, Libya has failed to recover, and is still de facto at civil war. Proposing the employment of its conflicting militias as migration controllers, hence takes a special kind of chutzpah — something apparently possessed by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Whereas critics immediately pointed out the humanitarian price for such a deal, the final verdict came with a report from the German foreign ministry this week. The report stated that conditions in Libyan refugee camps were worse than concentration camps, with execution, rape and torture being common occurrences.
Continue reading at FreedomToday.
Although the EU-Turkey deal caused seemingly endless troubles, everyone seems to agree on one thing: the deal worked. It managed to drastically bring down refugee numbers. For the new Maltese EU presidency, this seems justification enough to replicate it, just that this time the chosen partner is Libya.
With his new proposal, up for debate at the EU Council on 3 February, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is trying to tie up a deal that would make Libya one of the EU’s closest partners in migration control. However, the price of this partnership would be high. It would not only mean a final goodbye to Europe’s commitment to human rights, but it would create further tensions both inside and outside Europe.
The timing of the proposal makes sense, with Malta just assuming the rotating EU presidency, and the migration influx expected to start in the spring. In order to prevent what he calls a “new migration crisis”, Muscat claims Europe has to act quickly and decisively, with pragmatism taking precedence over idealism. In concrete terms, this means negotiating and funding a deal with Libya in which the Libyan coastguard, de facto dependent on whichever warring faction rules the coastline, would be responsible for turning around boats before they reach international waters. This is supposed to drive down numbers, and disrupt the business of smugglers. In return, reception centers would be opened in Libya, allowing asylum seekers to apply on the spot, with the lucky ones accepted receiving safe passage over the sea. Yet, what sounds reasonable in the beginning, is ultimately heavily flawed.
Continue reading at Vocal Europe.
In a recent Atlantic interview, Henry Kissinger argued that above all, states and politicians around the world need to take the time to understand the implications of a Trump administration. He predicted that a “frenzy of studying” will now take place in an effort to formulate a response to this year’s election. The European Union (EU), however, cannot afford the luxury of a period of reflection.
Trump’s election has serious implications for European states and far too much is at stake for Europe to simply wish him well and hope for the best.
European states must pay attention to what Donald Trump has been saying about European affairs and be prepared to take the necessary precautions.
On the issue of European security, Trump is correct. Europe has developed a habit of relying on the US to make its tough foreign policy decisions.
Its external security has hitherto been guaranteed, but it has paid the price in internal friction, worsened by its inability to form a coherent foreign policy and effectively deal with the wave of refugees.
Now, European leaders must prepare for its worst-case scenario: a Russia-friendly, isolationist US willing to accept that Europe, to some extent, falls under the Kremlin’s sphere of influence.
Continue reading at EUobserver.
If latest polls are to be believed, we may indeed be facing a European divorce next Thursday — something that probably neither David Cameron nor Europe as a whole would have conceived as possible just months ago. While debates over possible domino effects that would further threaten European post-Brexit unity are abound, one point seems often to be forgotten. Namely, the British debate on EU reform has also helped Europe, especially if Britain will decide to remain.
While Cameron achieved very little in his initial renegotiations, the ensuing debate on the future of the EU did create a massive intergovernmental momentum towards EU reform. Should the UK decide to leave now, it throws away the unique opportunity to head a large-scale reform of the European project — a reform that could ideally end with a “Europe of multiple speeds” where states can opt for their desired level of integration, finally settling the age-old debates about a European superstate. A reformed EU ought to strike the right balance between Europhilia and Euroscepticism, and British membership is key to this.
As a reminder, when Cameron initially pushed for disintegration in 2015, the UK’s demand for a Europe a la carte was widely perceived as lacking European solidarity. Yet persistent debates on challenges like economic crises, immigration, the democratic deficit and ineffective EU decision-making has left Euroscepticism deeply embedded in many member states. The political tide has turned. Instead of just accepting initial British demands, member states are now making calls for wide-reaching EU reform themselves.
Besides Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia pushing for EU reform, Denmark and the Netherlands have had referenda on EU justice cooperation and Ukraine respectively. Euroscepticism in the former is striking, with 44% of Danish citizens favoring a British-style referendum on EU membership. On a wider level, polls in ten European states show that the numbers of those supporting a return of powers from Brussels to national capitals today is twice as high as their opponents, with 42% for devolution versus only 19% for further centralization of powers. That’s not to forget the surge of Eurosceptic populism in the Mediterranean region.
Even in the supranational stronghold of Brussels, the mood seems to have changed. European Council President Donald Tusk calls for an end of “utopian dreams” on integration, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem demands a halt to EU enlargement, and liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt proposes a clear separation between those member states who favour more integration, and those who merely want a “Europe light.” In European Parliament, the anti-federalist European Conservatives and Reformists have developed into the third biggest group just seven years after its founding. Continue Reading
In recent months Western readers of news reports from Poland have been greeted with a steady stream of vitriolic reportage about the supposed “fascist coup” the country is experiencing at the hands of the freshly democratically elected reformist and Eurosceptic government. I have written on this site about just how incorrect (and purposely slanted) this narrative is.
The verifiable fact remains, to the chagrin of the European Union’s (EU) mandarins in Brussels, that this recent electoral cycle saw power delivered for the first time in modern Polish history to one party (PiS- Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc– “Law & Justice”) with an unprecedentedly overwhelming mandate to reform the post-Communist complexes that have run roughshod over rule of law for over two decades.
Read the rest on Breitbart, here.