Saturday

17th Feb 2018

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

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  3. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  4. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  6. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  8. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC President Warns Europe as Holocaust Memory Fades
  10. European Free AlllianceNo Justice From the Spanish Supreme Court Ruling
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  12. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%