The EU seems as flummoxed as ever on refugee policy. Sweden, the self-proclaimed “humanitarian superpower” whose generous welfare state has helped draw migrants northward, is closing its borders. The closure is supposedly temporary, but can be extended; if such closures in Sweden and elsewhere persist, they would spell the end of the Schengen Zone system
Meanwhile, European leaders are meeting once again to discuss the migrant crisis, this time in Malta. This meeting, scheduled this past April before the crisis in Syria became acute, was meant to address migration flows from Africa. The EU pledged €3.6 billion to African countries in various aid packages, which includes a €1.8 billion “trust fund” that was set up earlier to address “root causes” of migration. Only €30 million has so far been actually delivered to the fund, however, and African countries are said to be balking at the total pledged, given that €3 billion for coping with migrant issues was promised to Turkey alone at an earlier meeting.
The clear message to potential refugees and migrants is to move fast while you can. Sooner or later the current relatively open policies will be terminated by voter outrage, so get in during the interval in which the Eurocrats are dithering and helplessly wringing their hands.
It appears to be a message the migrants can intuit better than Europe’s leaders. Last week the Wall Street Journal profiled a camp of migrants in Morocco, and the piece captured this reality well:
Everyone here is trying to make it to Europe—and everyone has stories of failed attempts and new plans they hope will succeed.
“We’ve tried everything and we’ll continue to try anything,” said the house manager, known as “the chief,” as he piled chewed grapeseeds on a cardboard box used as a table. “The door to Europe is closing and we may be missing our chance, but no one is giving up. More come every week,” he said.
The journey from countries further south in Africa, such as the Ivory Coast (from where some of the migrants profiled came), to Morocco is both dangerous and expensive. It would save migrants much heartache if the European leaders could more clearly telegraph their intentions and resolve. But that’s asking too much: In order to do that, they would have to have figured out what they want, and what they were willing to do to get it.