by Aris Roussinos
Wednesday, 1
December 2021
Spotted
16:30

Is this the end of Europe’s asylum system?

The EU has ruled that it will suspend access for at least six months
by Aris Roussinos
Credit: Getty

British political discourse always seems wildly divorced from that of our closest European neighbours, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the responses to the flow of predominantly economic migrants from Iraqi Kurdistan simultaneously massing on the EU’s borders, and making their way across the English Channel. 

While the British state is paralysed by balancing its legal commitment to offer asylum to those in need with the desire of the vast majority of voters to limit mass irregular migration, the European Commission has today taken the simple step of acceding to Poland, Latvia and Lithuania’s request to limit the access to Europe’s asylum system for the Kurds huddled on its border.

As Politico notes, the Commission intends to suspend access to Europe’s asylum procedures for six months, hold any migrants who cross in closed detention centres along the border for a maximum of four months while their applications and appeals are heard, and promptly fly any who do not have a legally solid asylum claim back to Iraq.

This ultimately applies to almost all of those on the border. The Kurdistan region is poorly governed, and its economy is in a parlous state, but neither of these afford refugee status under international law: most of the world is poorer and worse governed than Europe, but that does not mean the majority of the world’s population are legally considered potential refugees.  

The unanimity with which the EU’s most senior officials have drawn a firm line between economic migrants, in this instance exploited by the Belarusian autocrat, and asylum seekers with a legally valid claim to be considered for refugee status is a significant step. If applied elsewhere in Europe, it would mean the prompt return of the predominantly economic migrants who make up the majority of the flow of people across the Mediterranean to Italy and Spain. As official UN data shows, the majority of those currently making the dangerous southern crossing are from economically dysfunctional Tunisia, Bangladesh and Egypt, and not the war-torn Middle Eastern nations of popular imagination. 

Given the rapidly changing attitudes in Europe to migration since 2015, this is no doubt a necessary step if any functional asylum system for those in genuine fear of persecution is to be maintained. Zemmour may get all the attention, but when even a darling of FBPE centrism like Michel Barnier proposes to halt all extra-European migration into France for five years as part of his presidential bid, we can be sure the continent’s tectonic plates have shifted.

As in 2015, a sudden moral fervour for open borders may have long and unintended political consequences, as we are seeing develop now in Europe. Indeed, if you wish to discredit and abolish the entire system of asylum altogether, you need do nothing more than let the loud but overwhelmingly unpopular open borders advocates continue just as they are.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
29 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

As usual, our fantastically foolish and out of touch elite appeals, in its smarmy, self-righteous rhetoric, to a phantom “Europe” which has nothing whatsoever to do with the reality. It does so in order to prevent or resist the adoption of effective policy in many areas, but with especial regard to migration and asylum. Luckily for them, a sufficient percentage of the Remainiac middle class is similarly blinkered and sentimental, able to prance about celebrating old churches and fine wine at the same time as sponsoring developments which will see the first closed and the second banned, once our population is “diverse” enough. In the same way, they wallow in Burgundy or Tuscany whilst willing their utter destruction. Are they mad? Or stupid? Or malicious? Or self-punitive? Whatever the answer to that conundrum, the sooner they and their centres of power – the quangos, the bloated civil service, the agencies of over regulation and the subsidised “arts” – are swept from power, the better.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I offer another choice – bored. This is Guardian-land we are talking about. They grow up, discuss clever theories at university, start work, maybe have a house and children and then …. Nothing.
So we have achieved everything we are supposed to achieve. We are 35 years old and that is it. Just grow old and become decrepit. We blame the System. How can we make the most trouble for the System? Hm. Maybe we can make things more difficult for everybody following us.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Ignorant? Misinformed?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Glyn Reed

They are both those, certainly; but to such a fantastic degree that something more sinister than a simple want of attention is at work – a general, cowardly consensus of wilful disregard.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Yes, but the interesting point here is that the EU and its member states, having made many egregious errors regarding migration, appears now to be clamping down on bogus asylum seeking migrants with rather more vim than our pathetic government, endlessly talking Right but acting Left is managing.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

One specific reason in my experience (most of my friends are Remainers or lean that way) is that many middle class Remainers want to travel freely to their properties in Spain, Tuscany and the Dordogne etc without hindrance or bureaucracy. Which is understandable if not particularly selfless or noble.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
10 months ago

I kind of predicted this. I posted the following on an Economics and Politics site in 2017, in response to an article about migration:

“What is salutary about this piece by Robert Skidelsky is not so much what it is saying (which is ephemeral), but the shift in narratives and tone it presages, emanating from what might be classed as representative “conventional” academic and political thinking – a precursor to the absolute chaos of the coming two decades as a result of the tech-driven maelstrom that is now underway.

There are in fact *no answers* (at least none I have come across that are remotely coherent) to either mass migration or mass unemployment that will be the result of large-scale automation that has begun to unfold. The huge people flows of globalisation have a cost that the liberal intellengensia in the west will have no option but to acknowledge once it starts to hit them personally, which it will be soon enough. So western intellengensia will react, first by wriggling around on their principles, before bowing to the inevitable and pulling up the drawbridges. The rich north will have the means to do this, but not so much the poor south, so those huge people flows will simply transfer to poor-on-poor migration across the globe – huge unheeded flows already happening across porus borders between Bangladesh and India for example.

Populations across the globe will react by flip-flopping between lurches to progressively bizzare varieties of “the left” and “the right”, as social and political models created in the wake of the industralisation begin to die and become increasingly pointless – existing left-right debates are going to soon seem about as relevent as debates about how may angels can dance on the head of a pin.

We stand on edge of a startlingly fast global ramp in sociatal disruption, where, a least in the first instance current models of social and political thinking are replaced, by brutal, “devil take the hindmost”, downright Darwinian narratives.”

My point about tech, is that it is in fact technological advance that is both the cause, and the enabler of mass scale migration.

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

An extremely insightful comment. Thanks.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

“enabler of mass scale migration.”

During this decade long window – after that the bio-metrics, genetic mapping, facial, syntax, and gait recognition, and before long brain wave prints, will make each of us as known as the sheep are in the field with their ear tags linking them to the farmers sheep Books.

In our paddocks and pastures as directed by authority, each labeled and scored, each a product, not a person. If someone whose entire contribution to society is being a ‘Consumer’ allows one to be a product in a real way – the new paradigm will require new ways of thinking about people.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
9 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

As a matter of fact India does not have a particularly porous border with Bangladesh, but one of the longest physical border barriers in the world. The border guards shoot to kill, but cannot be everywhere at once obviously. But the fact that illegal migration still exists shows how difficult it is to stop desperate (however defined) people taking their chances.

Last edited 9 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
9 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

As per Wikipedia, there were an estimated 30 million(!) illegal Bangladeshis in India in 2000, with an average inflow of around 300K per annum. Whether you take the Wikipedia numbers seriously, it is regardless a lot. And the numbers haven’t really gone down despite some high profile attempts by the Modi government since 2014.

Pakistani migration is a different matter because that border is heavily militarised. But even here the numbers run into the millions. Ditto the numbers from Nepal, especially huge numbers of women and girls who are forced into brothels.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
10 months ago

Just admit it and stop whining – Your political masters had become unhappy with the way the voters were voting, so decided to replace you all. You productive free thinkers, moral and patriotic – you are all wrong for what the twenty-first Century State needs, so a new group has been brought on board, one malleable, dis-unified, needy, and uneducated. The perfect voters.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
10 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Started by one T Blair with the stated purpose of “Rubbing the middle-class’s nose in “It”. I have told anyone who would listen (and a few who would not) that the then (Labour) government was just importing future labour voters. They would be told, “Don’t vote for the ‘Other Lot’ they will send you back home.”

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The perfect voter also has a postal vote, and voting without sound ID is helpful.

Last edited 9 months ago by Colin Elliott
James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

Perhaps this is the first step in a return to sanity.
Trigger warning for Guardian readers: Every single one of these invasive species must lose–men, women, children. Each must be returned to wherever they came from, broken, broke, utterly defeated. Zero tolerance. No help. Each one must be returned in a worse condition–hopefully much worse–simply to discourage others from coming. Those providing “humanitarian assistance,” meaning they are unpaid volunteers in the people smuggling operation–must be imprisoned, fined, totally broken until they stop. They should have to pay a very high price. Sound harsh? Too bad, so sad!
Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia should be commended for doing what the EU won’t do: protect the EU from an invasive species that is an existential threat to the EU and to Western Civilization. POL/LT/LV recognize that this is warfare–hybrid warfare, but warfare nonetheless, and the EU’s feckless actions and inactions are disgraceful. Fourth level of sanctions against Belarus? Fifth phone call to Putin saying, “Please Vlad, please, please stop!” Brussels can Let’s Go Brandon!
What the elites don’t understand–and this includes many of the UnHerd crowd–is that the success of a single invader leads to many, many more invaders–sometimes emptying out entire villages. If you think about this for more than 2 seconds, this is not even good for the home country–not that I care much–it’s their country, their problems, let them fix it–as it leads, supposedly, the best and the brightest to leave.
Take Haiti for example. Haiti fought for and won independence from the French in 1804. When they “celebrated” the 200th anniversary, their motto might have been “Haiti: 200 years of going backwards!” Of course that has continued for the last 17 years.
Or perhaps the woke view it as the white man’s burden, a form of reparations, to open the borders to COWs (Citizens of Wakanda, I refuse to use the woke term pocs). “We” owe them–open borders, vaccine equity, investments in their failed, corrupt states.
No, we don’t. I don’t owe them a thing, not even a return flight, and like Denmark, I would take everything of value from them as they are put on the return flights.
Time to harden the target!

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

There’s a long way to go before we get to what you suggest, but a start might be to heavily restrict legal aid. After all, its extension from citizens to anyone in the world was slipped in without public discussion, I’m guessing because of a judicial decision based upon ‘human rights’, although that might also eventually be used as an argument for admitting and then feeding, housing and educating billions of people.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago

“Indeed, if you wish to discredit and abolish the entire system of asylum altogether, you need do nothing more than let the loud but overwhelmingly unpopular open borders advocates continue just as they are.”
And the new coalition in Germany seems to be heading this way at full tilt. One of the plans which has seeped out in the last few days as the coalition takes shape is to make it easier for rejected asylum seekers to remain. German voters have long been unhappy about the number of failed asylum seekers who are legally obliged to leave the country but won’t and can’t be deported…or who do get shifted back to Italy/Greece/Hungary but then are back in 3 days. This number now runs into several hundreds of thousands.
The solution the government is proposing (i.e. starkly reduce the number of people who should leave but won’t/can’t be removed by giving them the right to stay) effectively trashes the rationale of the whole asylum system. You honestly can’t make this stuff up. Somehow I don’t think even committed SPD/Green voters will be happy about this, but there again – own fault…

Last edited 10 months ago by Katharine Eyre
Kiat Huang
Kiat Huang
10 months ago

My take is that the the immigration dilemma facing European nations has its root causes in (a) the management of the EU Schengen zone and (b) the lack of understanding on how to deal with the dynamics and politics of such a large scale, complex problem, lastly (c) the disinterest of Middle Eastern muslim nations in taking collective responsibility to solve these problems in their region.
Underpinning the first two is a lack of vision and common sense, and the latter is political weakness.

* The Schengen Zone
is an incredibly porous border, but nonetheless in total was a subset of borders managed by each EU member state generally to their own satisfaction. But as part of the Schengen Zone, with a vastly reduced common border, the EU has proven incapable of upholding their responsibility. Moreover, the EU has bred a culture which perversely encourages EU officialdom and mainstream media to criticise those countries that have no choice but to enforce border control during spikes in immigrant pressure, such as Hungary and Poland.
With a porous Schengen border and non-existent borders within Schengen, illegal immigrants, can roam unrestricted through to any Schengen country at will or to the border of any, such has given rise to the migrant camps in France, essentially basecamps to break across the border into England. Plenty has been said about the status of any genuine refugee which changes once they are present in any EU country, if they then seek to force themselves on another country, at which point they become economic migrants.

The key solution is an effective EU border force. Secondly to process immigrant evaluations (e.h
confirmed refuge status or not) in the EU country A that the immigrant is inhabiting to get to country B. Any identified as illegal economic migrants, get sent back. Genuine rrefugees are shared and distributed up to limits reach country believes it can cope with.

* Large scale problem
We know the Syrian war created an enormous, genuine humanitarian problem with pressure on a few countries in the path to Europe: Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, etc. A very public set of routes all the way to Western Europe that inspired waves of economic migrants to try it, irrespective of any laws they break in doing so.
Merkel was totally irresponsible in encouraging a huge mass of migrants to cross multiple borders illegally, without sufficient evaluation. The EU leadership was also complicit: foolish to believe that would be the end of it, that overwhelming numbers of people – mainly disgruntled, unskilled young men – would not build up into greater masses with the concomitant drain on host resources. The lack of imagination and vision at the top of the EU is stunning.

* The focus of Middle Eastern countries
It has to be recognized the predominantly Muslim countries of the Middle East did not feel strongly enough to cooperate together to solve this problem of humanity, predominantly muslim, in their region. Despite their collective vast wealth and resources, they were more than happy for the EU and other Western nations to shoulder the problem of their fellow muslims. Why? Could it be that increasing numbers of muslims in European countries is, as far as muslim countries are concerned, serving their own political or ideological interests?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
10 months ago

‘Irregular migration’, aka ‘illegal immigration’. Why is this term, used until yesterday, now so difficult to write even for Unherd journalists?

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
10 months ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Criminal trespass. With full knowledge and consent. Look how Rome learnt, too late, the high cost of “cheap” barbarian federates, nominal legionnaires..Even in a California public school I was instructed, “The Will is always a host, never a guest. Be careful what you take in.” National identity is national will.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
10 months ago

Politically it may well become impossible in the near future for Poland to remain in the EU if it were to become a constant mass transit camp, with all the uncertainties that brings in terms of security, the economy and health.
The EU, by trying to save the world, could just break up altogether. The fact that it seems determined now to protect its outer-rim land borders in the east is a piece of news that will not go unnoticed in America.
Poland has been billed in the press as “protecting” the EU against the so-called hybrid war being conducted against it from the far eastern reaches of Europe. The vast majority of the migrants are unarmed and want food and money for themselves and/or their families. So what lies behind this idea of Poland being a protector? A minder? Against such a mass of migrants? In the run-up to Christmas?
I think the EU now knows it needs space to grow up before it tries to keep on expanding. Of late, it has become like a church much more interested in membership numbers than in the overall quality of belief held by the vast membership. Right now, the EU cannot save the world. The EU must know that like all empires, it could break up. Perhaps the troubled world could do the EU a favour? For a change? Or should I say Europe?

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

So the red flag is a snitch system where a commentator can “flag” another commentator? How nice! It seems that this is a form of the heckler’s veto, in that anyone can delay a post for many hours out of spite or whatever reason.
I don’t like this, mate.

Kiat Huang
Kiat Huang
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I am new to unherd and read this subthread, so clicked on the flag to see what the fuss was about expecting info. Perhaps by double-tapping it now seems I’ve _flagged_ someone’s comments (James Joyce) as the flag changed colour, but it was done by me accidentally and it is impossible to unflag! Unherd – fix this please. i.e. add a “are you sure you want to flag” notice, an unflag option and possibly allow the flagger to write a reason.

Frederick B
Frederick B
10 months ago

It’s all very well talking about asylum seekers and the like, but the cross channel flow – exasperating though it is and urgently though it needs to be stopped – pales into insignificance beside the open borders policy (deceitfully called a “points based” system) which Johnson has now brought into effect. It will almost certainly increase net immigration beyond the insane levels that we saw pre-Covid, and that’s before we get to the open border with Hong Kong.
At least the continental countries are trying, and largely succeeding, in stemming immigration from outside Europe.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago

“As Politico notes . . . “ and I’m out.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago

Thanks. This is annoying and unacceptable. By censor I meant something automatic, not yet an actual person, but it’s still annoying. I see people try to work around it with *%$^** but I didn’t see the need to do so here. Wrong!

Patrick Fox
Patrick Fox
10 months ago

And what about the flag under your name ?

David McDowell
David McDowell
10 months ago

So what’s stopping Priti? Is she still hiding behind some Euro-rights nonsense?

Emre Emre
Emre Emre
10 months ago

Do I see Barnier attempting to become a Johnson to Zemmour’s Farage?