Offering a sign of political responsibility

The EU has the power to solve the border crisis with Turkey, Lucas Rasche of the Jacques Delors Centre writes in Zeit Online.

Any new agreement with Turkey to limit the flow of migrants through its border with Europe will only make sense if the 3.6 million refugees living there get the support they need, writes Lucas Rasche, Policy Fellow at the Hertie School’s Jacques Delors Centre in an opinion piece in Zeit Online.

“In the medium and long term it is more important for the EU to prevent power politics from being carried out on the backs of people who need protection,” Rasche says. A solution already exists, he points out, which is to distribute asylum-seekers fairly among European Union members.

The European Commission, the European Parliament and various Council Presidencies have tried to put such a mechanism in place, but several EU countries who do not want to take asylum seekers have blocked this proposal, he points out. The current situation, in which Turkey’s president can threaten at any time to open the border, allowing migrants to freely enter the European Union, is untenable. This “basis for extortion” must be removed, Rasche writes, and a solution must be found through a coalition of willing EU partners.

First, this coalition must agree to take groups of asylum seekers from the 43,000 migrants currently in refugee camps on the Greek islands. This would require a revival of the emergency mechanism of 2015 crisis, and would be “a sign of political responsibility,” says Rasche.

In a second step, a “long-term functioning system of shared burden” would be created. A number of proposals by EU institutions are already on the table. “If we do not want to cast aside all of the EU's fundamental values, we need solidarity that goes beyond support for border management,” writes Rasche. “For we can only have control if we can manage the challenge before us. This is precisely where a common distribution mechanism comes into play,” Rasche writes. The German EU Council Presidency later this year has a central role to play in this effort, he says – in particular Horst Seehofer as next Chairman of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council.   


Read the full opinion piece in Zeit Online (in German).