In the past months an unprecedented number of Syrian refugees have entered the European Union. The first response of the different member states was chaotic, uncoordinated and indecisive. The richer Northern European countries like Germany and the Netherlands accepted most of these refugees reluctantly. However, in Calais, France, hundreds of refugees are still waiting under horrific circumstances for a free ticket to the United Kingdom. The British government’s indecision to solve the refugee crisis has torn apart families and left the European community divided on whether to accept or reject these hapless refugees.
Central and local European governments should now decide of the next step to take. In the absence of realistic alternatives, these governments will have to integrate the Syrian families with the Dutch and German citizens. The European Union (EU) has a flawless track record of postponing difficult decisions. It has dogged the following thorny questions: Will the refugees be entitled to housing and social securities? Will these refugees be offered a place in the different European societies?
It is true the local European municipalities have a limited administrative capacity in handling the overflow of the refugees, but this should not be used as an excuse. If this mentality is cultivated, it will filter to the local population who will see the Syrian refugees as a threat to their well-being and safety. This is a negative development that has exacerbated the refugee crisis which is an avoidable consequence of poor governance. The complex situation, which can be managed professionally by the different authorities in other jurisdictions, has given rise to a number of avoidable consequences.
The first consequence is that the refugee crisis will diminish the confidence of the Europeans in the government capabilities even further. This lack of trust gives room for extremist political parties. History has shown the danger of these developments many times in the past century. The second consequence is further disharmony between the European member states which will weaken the Union further and increase future instability and indecisiveness of its authority. Most importantly, the refugee crisis will further increase the gap between the richer Northern European countries and the poorer Southern European countries.
The refugee crisis, which is an avoidable consequence of poor governance, can also lead to a far greater problem. According to the Independent, the next great transfer of people will be the result of the consequences of global warming. In Northern Africa, millions are dependent on agriculture, in particular the production of vegetables. This is relatively unsophisticated farming activity mainly carried out on land instead of the well-managed greenhouses. The combination of an increase in temperature and the lack of water will make it impossible for these millions to survive in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Egypt. Morocco and Tunisia have strong ties with France while Libya has signed several treaties with Italy. As a result, millions of people will try to find a better life in Northern Europe after the consequence of global warming. Little fantasy is needed of what the consequence will be; the Northern European countries will close their borders and eventually the European Union will break up in different autonomous regions.
The United States has proven the impact of immigration on consumer spending, population diversity and the GDP of a country. It seems the European authorities can learn so much from the U.S., on how o better manage migration and its attendant problems. Structural change is needed to prepare the government systems to cope efficiently with the current crisis and the future challenges. There is little time and much at stake.
Opinion by Michiel Visser
Edited by Shepherd Mutsvara
Financial Times: The Calais Migrants Are Europe’s Shame
Huffington Post: Germany Steps Up On Refugee Crisis As Rest of EU Dawdles
Independent: Refugee Crisis: Is Climate Change Affecting Mass Migration
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