The head of the European Commission is calling for quotas to spread the recent influx of refugees from Africa around the Continent. As Open Europe reports:
In a speech to the European Parliament yesterday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, “I will call…for the establishment of a [refugee] quota system…It will need to be done. We can’t leave the management of refugees relocation only to the member states that are directly concerned. This is about shared solidarity.” Juncker also said that it was “a grave mistake” to put an end to Mare Nostrum – Italy’s own search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
This will be politically contentious, and doubtless whatever—if anything—emerges at the end of this process will not look exactly like Juncker’s vision now. Nonetheless, it looks like the EU will try some sort of “burden-sharing” in the aftermath of the horrific recent shipwreck that left more than 800 people dead.
In the short term, such a move would ease the immense strain that the migration crisis is placing on south and south-eastern European “gateway” countries. Italy in particular is hosting thousands of migrants from Libya, although a large proportion of those migrants are trying to get to Germany, France, and points north. It’s hard to see how the Continent can continue with its current policy toward refugees—which forbids the return of any migrant deemed a “refugee” to his or her home country—and yet expect a few nations such as Italy and Sweden to shoulder alone what’s becoming an unsustainable burden.
In the long term, however, such a decision, imposed at the EU level, would present serious problems. Long-term immigration without popular acceptance of the immigrants or the policy bringing them in will lead to social strife, increased nativism (of which Europe is already seeing a good deal), and ultimately, alienation. Such a decision cannot be imposed on hoi polloi by their betters—particularly through a body as post-democratic as the EU—without risking a backlash. So while something surely must be done to stem the current crisis, refugee quotas, absent deeper social change, are not a sufficient solution, and may be a recipe for long-term strife.