Wednesday

19th Dec 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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

Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice

Sometimes in chess, a sacrifice brings victory. Theresa May should pay heed to the example of Slovakia's premier, Iveta Radicova, who sacrificed her job in order to get difficult euro bailout legislation through the Bratislava parliament.

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Labour MP Diana Johnson has brought a private members bill to Westminster that proposes to decriminalise abortion in the whole of the UK, which means that, if successfully passed, current provisions for Northern Ireland will also be repealed.

News in Brief

  1. Financial Times picks Soros as 'Person of the Year'
  2. Italy strikes last-minute deal with EU over budget
  3. UK to unveil new immigration rules ending free movement
  4. Belgian PM resigns five months before elections
  5. EU agree to ban throwaway plastics to reduce marine litter
  6. EU agrees 2019 fishing quotas for Atlantic and North Sea
  7. 3,500 UK troops on standby for no-deal Brexit
  8. Brexit: Opposition disagrees over no confidence vote

Brexit, migration, cities - and the UN pact

It's not surprising that a handful of nationalist European governments – Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Italy – have followed Trump's lead in rejecting the UN's migration pact, to be formally adopted in Marrakech next week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Hackers stole thousands of internal EU files
  2. Muscat's one-man rule poses challenge for EU
  3. Orban protests target state media in new front
  4. Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice
  5. EU gives Switzerland another six months for a deal
  6. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  7. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  8. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us