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The European Immigration Crisis
Nothing So Permanent As Temporary Measures

Citing an emergency measure never used before, a German government official told the elites assembled at Davos on Thursday that Berlin may keep border controls in place for up to two years. The Times (of London) reports:

Thomas de Maizière, the German interior minister, said that he could see no end to the temporary controls put in place at the border with Austria in September to check for genuine asylum seekers. The measures were supposed to continue only until March.

It was another blow to the Schengen system of free travel between 26 nations. Austria announced on Wednesday that it would cap migrant numbers at 37,500 this year. Angela Merkel has refused to follow suit, and is sticking by her commitment to welcome all eligible asylum seekers, despite mounting calls from across the German political spectrum to introduce quotas.

Mr de Maizière’s words suggest that Germany will apply to extend controls for two years; an emergency provision in the rules which has never before been used. The provision has always been viewed as a point of no return for Schengen — which ended passport checks on Europe’s internal national borders in 1986 — because it will probably prompt other nations to follow suit and entrench border checks.

Looks like the Europeans are starting to follow the TAI line of thinking on the Turkish deal that was supposed to stop all this:

The German decision comes amid a growing belief that Greece and Turkey will be unable to stem the flow of migrants when numbers begin to increase again in March. The milder spring weather makes sea crossings and travel on the Balkans route easier.

So the “temporary” measures may be extended—to the point where they will, de facto, be the new permanent reality.

In a way, this makes sense. The EU’s governing logic has increasingly emphasized the need to use each crisis to achieve closer integration; this is something Brussels has relied more and more on since the series of crises starting with the financial crash in 2008. But this method has had increasingly diminishing returns—the euro, for instance, is still not truly fixed. This time around, the lack of planning and true consensus may cause unacceptable costs:

“If Schengen in this form were to be destroyed now, and the European Union massively endangered, then I would worry about a chain reaction which would not stop at the euro. The whole shebang would go up in the air,” said Anton Börner, head of the BGA German trade federation.

As French PM Manuel Valls put it even more bluntly, the EU could “die” if it doesn’t figure out immigration. For as things stand right now, Schengen cannot be left open, either.

Visionary leadership and sound diplomacy will be needed if Europe is to thread this needle. A muddle, sadly, is more likely—limping along until the next crisis—which would save more face for European leaders, but cause more pain all around.

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  • lukelea

    I’d prefer a new Parliament of Democracies or Democratic League to take the place of the EU and UN. All the OECD countries would get together in a free trade area, leveraging their combined economic, financial, industrial, technological, political, diplomatic, and military muscle to enforce civilized norms both within and between nations. The ability to deny rogue states access to the international financial system alone would be a powerful inducement, as would a wall of high tariffs and, in extreme cases, embargoes on trade (like with Korea) and denial of travel rights to member nations (as with Russia).

    The idea that America must be the leader of the free world or that her military might alone is enough to maintain an orderly world has been measured in the balance and found wanting. A new and more advanced form of collective security is in order. The only thing lacking is the necessary statesmanship and diplomatic skill to bring such a new international organization into existence.

    • qet

      You seem to be under the impression that all this is a matter merely of reshuffling a few of the world’s Westernized, Enlightened elites into some sort of new configuration that will eliminate fundamental difference and disagreement. No effective human organization can be leaderless, so you must be suggesting that someone other than the USA be the leader. Why would the USA accept another’s leadership when apparently other nations no longer accept ours? Also, you overlook that the billions of the world will inevitably have something to say in the matter, that they are not just awaiting a new form of authority to which they can submit and live happily ever after. Your proposal sounds to me like merely another kind of utopia expressed in an administrative, technocratic idiom. I think that if such an organization could be brought into being simply by an application of some statesmanship and diplomacy, it already would have been. China and Russia, just to name two, are not going to not resist, oppose and thwart a league of nations from which they are excluded, combined leverage be damned.

      • lukelea

        Of course China and Russia would try to thwart. But against the combined economic strength of the OECD countries I don’t think they could prevail. As for who would be the “leader” of this organization, I don’t know the answer except to say that it would need to be based on republican principles and democratic procedures.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I’ve read several articles in recent days that confirm and reinforce my opinion that the EU and the Euro are going to disintegrate just like the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union did 25 years ago.

  • Dale Fayda

    All of EU’s “leaders”, with one or two exceptions, are worthless, gutless turds.

  • gabrielsyme

    Too much of leftist policy not only demands unrealistic virtue on the part of the populace, but also perfect implementation of a complex administrative system. The Europeans can’t integrate Muslims in part because most Muslims refuse to integrate, but also in part because those who would like to integrate more fully cannot, in the eyes of Germans, Swedes, etcetera, make themselves truly German or Swedish, given the fundamental ethno-historical basis for most European nations. And then the leftists also rely on border controls in Greece and Hungary to execute a immigrant screening programme that effectively distinguishes between potential terrorists and the peaceful, between criminals and the law-abiding, between true refugees and economic migrants.

    If you have a plan that requires your population to be uniformly saints, your migrants to be sinless and distant, transnational bureaucracies to flawless execute complex and burdensome policies, you are headed for disaster.

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