Thursday

23rd Nov 2017

Opinion

EU needs US-type refugee screening

One hundred and thirty. That’s how many deaths it has taken for European leaders to publically discuss the impact the migrant crisis is having on continental security.

Last weekend saw extremists open fire on civilians in the City of Lights. Bars, cafes and a concert hall were targeted. The ensuing carnage is the deadliest Europe has seen in more than a decade and the worst on French soil since the Second World War.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Compounding this tragedy is confirmation from authorities that at least one of the attackers entered Europe posing as a migrant.

The backlash has been both swift and predictable. Poland’s new eurosceptic government suggested sending some migrants back to “liberate” their country. And Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party called for the immediate expulsion of “illegal migrants who have nothing to do here.”

In response, many have cautioned against creating a link between the Paris attacks and the migrant crisis.

French president Francois Hollande reportedly asked his parliamentarians to not mix the two issues. European Union chief Jean-Claude Juncker went further, nothing that: “Those who organised, who perpetrated the attacks are the very same people who the refugees are fleeing and not the opposite.”

He also warned about giving into what he termed “base reactions.”

Juncker is of course right. But “base reactions,” or gut feelings, often trump reason when people perceive their safety to be at risk. Such is the case when many Europeans see how asylum seekers are screened at continental borders.

Sporadic background checks

In recent months, thousands of migrants have arrived on the Greek islands. Before they can continue their onward journey to the European mainland, they are registered; a process that involves presenting identification and providing fingerprints.

There are no interviews to determine intent and until last month, background checks were reportedly conducted sporadically.

Europe’s border agency focuses its limited resources on migrants’ “immediate care rather than screening or obtaining information on their basic characteristics such as nationality.”

For those seeking refuge within America’s borders, the process is strikingly different. Migrants must first undergo and pass multiple security screenings in order to be considered for relocation. Their biographic and biometric details are passed through the databases of national and international security agencies.

Trained personnel from the United Nations and the US government also interview each migrant on multiple occasions. These measures collectively work to distinguish between those seeking to commit violence from those fleeing from it.

Aspects of America’s asylum process have been criticised. For example, it can take up to two years before an applicant ever steps foot on American soil. During that time, he/she may languish in a migrant camp.

Moreover, officials have the power of discretionary denial. This means that even if a migrant passes all the requisite checks, the asylum claim can still be denied.

Yet if America’s process for screening migrants seems too restrictive, Europe’s is almost certainly too lax.

So lax in fact that it has been labeled a “vulnerability” by the continent’s own border agency.

Rectifying this requires governmental action. Measures must be introduced that, like in the United States, more carefully scrutinise those seeking entry into Europe, migrant or not.

Neglecting this alternative risks stoking right wing, populist, anti-migrant flames; flames that would surely signal the end of European integration.

Ashley Nunes studies population ageing, labor markets and technology policy at Universite Paris-Descartes. His work has appeared in the American Scientist, the Christian Science Monitor and The Hill

Eastern partners, eastern problems

The EU must hold out the olive branch of possible membership in the distant future - but the current domestic problems in the ex-Soviet states, let alone their links to Russia make more than that difficult.

EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit

The EU is throwing a lot of money at Sudan to manage migration from the Horn of Africa to Europe - but the upcoming Africa Union-EU summit is a chance to probe Sudan about its own human rights record.

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

EU must confront Poland and Hungary

Curtailing NGOs and threatening judicial independence are the hallmarks of developing-world dictators and authoritarian strongmen, not a free and pluralistic European Union.

Mind the gap: inequality in our cities

Minimum wages, 'living' wages and a universal basic income are all part of the ongoing mix to find ways to reduce social inequality across the EU.

News in Brief

  1. No UK 'capital of culture' city post-Brexit
  2. EU sets up natural disaster rescue team
  3. Spain sends migrant arrivals to unfinished prison
  4. Iceland prepares for biggest volcano to blow
  5. Greek parliament postpones debate on Saudi arms deal
  6. Family of murdered Malta journalist to sue police
  7. UK to sell RBS bank stake, boosting government coffers
  8. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  4. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  5. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  6. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  7. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  8. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  10. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  11. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  12. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!

Latest News

  1. Eastern partners, eastern problems
  2. Germany's Schulz under pressure to enter coalition talks
  3. LuxLeaks trial re-opens debate on whistleblowers' protection
  4. Wilders says Russia is 'no enemy' ahead of Moscow visit
  5. EU must put Sudan under microscope at Africa summit
  6. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  7. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  8. Commission warns Italy over high debt level