The Sea That Has United Nations Is Dividing Europe
Refugees, immigrants, illegals there are many names to the massive flow of people, predominantly young men, making their way across the Mediterranean. By the end of the July over quarter of a million people crossed the sea in 2015 alone. Most are not exactly fleeing terror or persecution, but rather seeking a better life for themselves.
Some of them identify as immigrants, albeit illegal, with the goal of finding a job. That goal will prove to be a mirage that keeps on moving away. As Europe is not the land of milk and honey anymore. It’s suffering from chronic slow growth and massive unemployment. Average unemployment rate in European Union was 9.8 % at the end of June 2015 and the situation was even direr at the Mediterranean coast, where Spain topped the list with 25.6 % unemployment rate. With over 23 million unemployed people within the union, most of whom are literate and speak the local languages, what are the changes of poorly educated illegal immigrants ever becoming self-sufficient?
Other people attempt to claim asylum, either directly at the country they make their less than graceful landfall. Or they attempt to cross the European borders illegally and sneak their way into the northern Europe, in search of a better social welfare benefits and higher standards of living. The economic pull factors are there, even if there is absolutely no hope of employment. For example a prisoner in a Finnish prison gets at least 2000€/year, naturally with accommodation and meals. That is more than twice of the average, not minimum the average, annual wage of over a dozen African countries. The migration tide over the Mediterranean cannot be stemmed by decreasing the pull factors.
So what are Europe’s options?
If nothing is done the current development in Greece and probably Italy will continue at an accelerated rate. Economic burden combined with the cultural clashes and vast numbers of unemployed young men are the ideal breeding ground for radical movements. We will see the rise of the anarchist, neo-nazi and islamist groups. History has shown where this path will lead and I doubt that no European politician would like to go there. I hope that the flames of the Balkans are still too vivid in our minds.
Distributing the burden of illegal immigrants, would ease off the problems at the beginning. But in Africa, there may be shortages in many commodities, but not in the people looking for a better living. There are estimated to be over 500 million people who, if given the change, would want to move to Europe. If the road of distributing the burden is chosen, then burden will sink the entire European Union. Many nations will choose to save themselves and that would lead to the sudden and possibly violent breakup of the EU as we know it.
The only real solution to this gigantic problem is to initiate and rapid and decisive action against the human trafficking routes that cross the Mediterranean. People must be returned to the shores where they left and the trafficking vessels destroyed. This “Australian” model will help to ease the immediate pressure that is pushing towards the European shores.
In order to find a permanent solution, the push factors in Africa and Middle-East must be eradicated. ISIS, Boko-Haram, local warlords and corrupted governments must be taken down. The developmental aid is not working, so we must find new and efficient ways to provide security, education and growth to the developing world. As sad as it is it may require that we leave some of the regions to fend for themselves, so that they are forced to develop the necessary tools to cope without direct aid. We may also need to use the less than delicate methods of our advanced militaries in order to allow peaceful and sustainable development of the regions that cannot do that on their own.
The next decades will need new tools combined with old fashioned security. It will not be easy, but it has to be done.