Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The solution to Europe's migrant crisis

All that anyone can say for sure about what is happening is that this crisis is with us.

Europe, the Near East and North Africa are facing an exceptional event. Understandably no country was prepared for it, but all have to deal with it one way or another.

Argue as we may who is to blame for it, there is and can only be one solution now: to apply existing international and domestic law to the processing of migrants/refugees. It will be a messy, slow and less than adequate process. It will involve negotiations and questionable trade-offs, take many months of work to produce less than satisfactory results, and mean accepting that practicality and compassion will be at odds throughout. Every interest, using the media, will argue with whatever is done - and not done.

It seems trying to secure agreement on quotas and budgets is working against a collective response. As the numbers of migrants grow, improvisation is therefore unavoidable. Existing administrative capacity can only be used as best as possible and only expanded as quickly as possible where it is inevitably lacking.

If poorer EU countries opt out, the richer ones will end by taking more than their fair share of the burden simply because there is no alternative. Democratic governments must do their best to be honest with their citizens about the inconvenience and sacrifice this involves. They will have to grin and bear it when it makes them extremely unpopular with their electorates.

NGOs and charity will help, but inter-state cooperation alone can solve the problem. Eventually all the disagreements and recriminations we are witnessing will be replaced by a coalition of the willing. There is no other way.

1 comment:

Ike Jakson said...

I saw your comment in the Guardian and thought I recognised the style, which told me to look you up; good to see someone from Paton’s land. Want to read a bit of mine?