Thursday

19th Oct 2017

EUobserved

EU flirts with hypocrisy in criticising Trump's refugee ban

The EU rightly spoke out against Donald Trump's entry ban on asylum seekers from Syria. But its own track record leaves much to be desired.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Monday (30 January) that the EU would continue to host refugees.

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.

  • The EU talks endlessly about solidarity. But in reality, solidarity does not exist except among the nameless volunteers on the ground. (Photo: MSF)

"It's our identity: we celebrate when walls are brought down and bridges are built," she said in a tweet.

Her comments appeared the same day a young man from Pakistan suffocated to death in a tent at the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. He was trying to keep warm. It was the third death at the camp in a week.

The misery of people is well documented in so-called hotspots set up by the EU in both Italy and in Greece. The conditions are so bad that many, including Syrian refugees, have volunteered to return to Turkey from the Greek islands.

The EU blames the Greek government. The Greek government blames EU states for not relocating asylum seekers and for sealing off the Western Balkan route.

When Hungary erected a wall on its border with Serbia, the European Commission said it was a national issue. When a Syrian refugee protested against the barrier, Hungarian authorities gave him a 10-year prison sentence.

The EU talks endlessly about solidarity. But in reality, solidarity does not exist except among the nameless volunteers on the ground. And some of those are risking jail for their efforts. One Danish woman went on trial for people-smuggling after giving a family of refugees a ride to Copenhagen. A similar case is unfolding in Sweden.

Only around 10,000 people have been relocated from Italy and Greece to other EU states. The two-year scheme, which ends in September, had called for 160,000.

Many more have been kicked out. Almost 11,000 people were sent home last year, a four-fold increase compared with 2015 when 3,565 migrants were returned in 66 operations.

Both EU commission and member states now appear to oppose issuing humanitarian visas for people in need.

Germany may stand out as an exception after welcoming some 1 million in 2015.

Disgrace

But the fact that the world's richest nations are unwilling to properly care for the thousands stranded in Greece and on its islands is a disgrace. The task has largely been delegated to volunteers, NGOs and international aid organisations.

With populist parties gaining ground in the Netherlands, France and Germany, the anti-immigrant discourse has also gone mainstream. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte last week told Muslims to "act normal, or go away".

France's conservative presidential contender Francois Fillon has promised to erect national borders and German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere wants zones outside Europe to screen applicants before arrival.

De Maiziere's proposal is gaining traction.

The plan is to offshore the problem to war-torn Libya. The job is already under way in a handful of other African states and Afghanistan. This is the EU's invisible wall.

Last week, the EU commission announced a €200 million migrant deal with Libya and other north African states. It includes more training for the Libyan coast guard and navy and more surveillance in a country whose detention centres, according to leaked memos from the German government, are death traps.

Catherine Woollard, secretary general of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), has shed doubt on the plan.

"By supporting the Libyan coastguard, Europe wants to dispense with its obligation to provide protection. But what 'protection' will be provided when they are returned to Libyan soil - and the migrant centres it hosts?" she said.

Malta, the EU rotating presidency, says a migrant deal signed last year between Turkey and the EU could be a blueprint for Libya. The EU Turkey deal slowed the flow of people leaving for Greece.

But Libya has no functioning government and is largely run by warlords, despite the UN having the recognised GNA government in Tripoli.

Around 5,000 people died trying to reach the EU last year.

Most drowned while crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. Many more have been rescued and brought to Italy. But once onshore, another struggle begins.

Italian police

Last year, Amnesty International documented cases of torture by the Italian police in their effort to meet EU commission demands to fingerprint every arriving asylum seeker.

On the Italian border with Austria, Musa Diakite, a 35-year old from Mali, broke down and cried in despair when he told this website his dignity was in shreds.

Diakite's application for asylum was rejected. Unable to return home and without any rights, he wandered about aimlessly. "I don't want to sleep in the streets, I can't do it," he said.

He is one of many in a Europe that has turned its back on people in need of help.

Alpine village dragged into Brenner refugee dispute

Franz Kompatscher, the mayor of an Italian village near the Austrian border, wants an EU response to a refugee crisis that just threatened to create a new barrier at the Brenner Pass.

EU leaders must stand up to Trump, say MEPs

MEPs have urged the EU to stand up for European values, starting with rejecting Trump's presumed choice for US ambassador, who has stated that he wants to "tame" the bloc.

Dutch anti-Trump protesters turn on Wilders

Some 2,000 people protested in The Hague against the US travel ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, but also threw in some anti-Wilders slogans.

News in Brief

  1. Madrid eyes early elections as solution to Catalan crisis
  2. Merkel starts coalition talks to form government by December
  3. Iceland confirms long-standing EU opposition, poll shows
  4. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  5. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  6. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  7. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  8. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  2. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State
  3. ECR GroupBrexit: Delaying the Start of Negotiations Is Not a Solution
  4. EU2017EEPM Ratas in Poland: "We Enjoy the Fruits of European Cooperation Thanks to Solidarity"
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and UK Discuss Deepening of Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership
  6. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceEHLA Joins Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan at EU Week of Sport
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Representative Office Opens in Brussels to Foster Better Cooperation
  8. UNICEFSocial Protection in the Contexts of Fragility & Forced Displacement
  9. CESIJoin CESI@Noon on October 18 and Debate On: 'European Defence Union: What Next?'
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Support Start-Ups
  11. ILGA EuropeInternational Attention Must Focus on LGBTI People in Azerbaijan After Police Raids
  12. European Jewish CongressStrong Results of Far Right AfD Party a Great Concern for Germans and European Jews