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The European Council and the new failure on immigration and asylum

Original: http://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/el-consejo-europeo-y-el-nuevo-fracaso-en-inmigracion-y-refugio

Translated by Clara Baeder

On June 28th the conclusions of the European Council, made up of the Heads of State and Government of the Union, were published and the main focus was the situation of asylum and immigration in Europe. Just 48 hours later, the paper was replaced by the harsh reality: on Saturday, the 30th, a barge burned and more than 100 people drowned near Libya. NGOs, working to rescue refugees in a Mediterranean that has already swallowed 1,000 human beings so far this year, reported that they had not been warned to cover the rescue.

The images of dead babies in the arms of Libyan coast guards and of barefoot refugees running among the rocks of the coast near Tripoli show that what was agreed two days earlier does not guarantee the lives of people fleeing the war nor their rights. Nor does it serve to order the flow of refugees into the continent, let alone to certify the supposed security that is being sought.

There were many issues to be discussed at the summit, but nothing new and different was decided: the Dublin regulation, refugee movements within the EU, common asylum policy, boat arrivals and the situation in the Mediterranean. The Heads of State and Government who signed the Council’s agreement also know and recognise, as the tone of their subsequent statements showed, that what they signed only deepens and advances the already recognised crisis in the EU. In fact, for many years now, the so-called “control of migratory flows” which guides the steps of the various EU governments, regardless of their political affiliation, has resulted in a resounding lack of success.

The Summit outcome document and the data it contains could apparently contradict this perception of failure by pointing out that the flow of arrivals to EU territory has been reduced by 95% compared to 2015. We say they could, because the text mentions at the same time that we are facing a new upturn in the figures. Achieving a reduction in applications for protection and arrivals over three years has only meant transforming the Mediterranean into a huge mass grave for more than 33,000 people and turning the southern European border into the most dangerous in the world.

From the above it can be concluded that the only way that EU governments have “found” in recent years to temporarily reduce arrivals has been to bypass laws, cause deaths and establish agreements with third countries such as Turkey or the Libyan warlords. There is no assessment in the text of the summit of the price paid and of the deadly and deeply anti-democratic reality that has been generated. On the contrary, this brutal way of exercising border control is maintained and ratified in the final document which establishes the release of new sums of money with EUR 3 billion for Turkey and EUR 500 million for the emergency trust fund for Africa. The document states that it is necessary to speed up the return of those who cannot apply for international protection, whom it describes as illegal immigrants, as if applicants for international protection could leave “legally and calmly” the countries they flee from.

At this stage, it is known that returns are often simply inapplicable. On the one hand, because the States which are supposed to take the returnees back do not wish to recognise them as their own; on the other, because transfers do not work within the EU. And finally, because there is resistance from those affected. However, the Union allocates more funds within the asylum and refugee funds to the return of persons and to border control than to reception as such. For example, between 2007 and 2014, the Kingdom of Spain allocated 9 times more money to return than to arrivals. In 2015, the EU itself, at the peak of its recent arrivals in Greece and Italy, received 1.5 million people, which did not prevent it from issuing more than half a million expulsion orders at the same time. As Christine Petre, IOM’s spokesperson in Libya, says, nearly 10,200 immigrants have been taken back to Libya so far in 2018, more than 2,000 last week.

Devolution represents a perverse, very expensive and dysfunctional mechanism. Faced with the inability to do so in more than 50% of cases, thousands of people are abandoned in the most absolute legal limbo and, as a result, are left in the hands of the illegal networks, which, cynically, they claim they want to combat. The person affected by these orders is undocumented and therefore unable to obtain minimums for his or her survival, neither home, work or health, nor a simple mobile phone can be used by him or her if he or she does not first use means outside the law to do so.

The Union, which has long seen how even the Dublin regulation is not properly applicable, will consider the establishment of regional landing platforms for immigrants. In Palladian Roman, this implies the creation of new internment centres in which the mobility of applicants will be impeded. Wherever they are built and whoever pays for them, respected voices already argue that such centres may be in open contradiction with the refugee rights convention itself.

The final declaration of the summit also ensures that means will be provided to “derail the incentives that push people to embark”. In the light of what has been decided, we can only conclude that this is not right. Solving the problems involved in the mass migration of people across the globe, including Europe, should not involve violating the rights impeding their movement, but rather deepening them, in other words, addressing key elements of a capitalist globalisation that deepens inequalities and spreads violence in all its facets. Today, this movement of population, which is inseparable and structurally linked to capitalism, does not take place mainly in Europe and the USA, but rather in the impoverished countries that support more than 86% of the nearly 70 million refugees that exist in the world.

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