Public Affairs Networking
08/10 – Migration continues to be a major issue

Most EU media continue to comment on the refugee crisis and the consequences of national reactions on the core values of the EU and its raison d’être. Most media notably report that yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, in a joint address to the European Parliament, called for unity across the continent to tackle a series of crises that have shaken the EU, notably the refugee crisis (see Institutional Affairs synthesis)., as well as some Italian media, write that the EU will start implementing its refugee relocation plan tomorrow. The European Commission announced on Wednesday that a group of Eritreans will travel from Italy to Sweden. According, EC Spokesperson Mina Andreeva said on Wednesday, that the EC was expected to propose permanent relocation schemes by March 2016. Nevertheless, most EU media report that The Times has received a secret plan according to which EU member states plan to step up efforts to repatriate thousands of migrants fleeing poverty rather than war by speeding up deportations and exerting pressure on their home countries to take them back.

In a new attempt to clamp down on economic migrants, ministers responsible for migration policies will meet today in Luxembourg to agree measures to discourage illegal migration. Magyar Nemzet writes that the European Union plans to threaten countries which will not take back economic refugees, by ending their economic support, trade agreements and visa arrangements. Meanwhile, according to Radio 24, Commission chief spokesperson Margaritis Schinas replied to The Times claiming that the measure was already included in a package published by the EU in September.

Moreover, several media outlets report that the naval operation Sophia, announced by High Representative Vice-President for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini at the end of September, and carried out by Frontex, Eurojust, Europol, the Italian police and humanitarian organisations, started on October 7th.

According to Federica Mogherini, quoted by several media, the mission will now be able “to board, search and seize vessels in international waters, [after which] suspected smugglers and traffickers will be transferred to the Italian judicial authorities.” Eugenio Ambrosi, Expert at IOM, nevertheless said to BBC that the operation will not have effect unless it can reach criminal organisations operating in the EU, Helsingin Sanomat writes.

EU Media today also continue to report that Russia’s deepening involvement in the Syrian conflict is expected to provoke a new exodus of refugees to Europe. The Times notably refers to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan estimates, according to which “another three million potential refugees may come from Aleppo and its neighbourhood.” Finally, several media continue to comment on the fact that the EU pinned high hopes on Turkey’s help to stem the flow of refugees.

Several op-eds criticise Europe’s lack of unity and lack of action regarding the migrant issue. Eesti Päevaleht publishes an article by George Soros in which he states that the EU must admit that it is responsible for the lack of a reasonable asylum policy, which has turned the increasing refugee influx from a manageable problem into another political crisis. Czech Republic President Miloš Zeman, in an interview with Reflex, criticises the EU for being impotent when it comes to its external border protection. Bavarian Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann claims in SZ that the only way for Europe to regain control in the refugee crisis is for it to restore the integrity of its outer borders. Oliver Pink writes in Die Presse that a stricter approach is needed giving preference to reason over emotions. In an editorial article in the Kurier Helmut Brandstätter writes that Europe must accept the fact that without close cooperation with Turkey and African countries – despite the deficit of democracy – a solution to the problem will be impossible in the long term.

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