Tuesday 17 July 2018

Europe needs a calm debate - not reactionary clamour on migration

Reconciling humanitarian values with the political constraints of immigration is posing a difficult task, writes Dan O'Brien

A woman with her child, part of a group of migrants intercepted aboard dinghies in the Mediterranean, after arriving at the port of Motril, southern Spain, last week. Photo: Pepe Marin
A woman with her child, part of a group of migrants intercepted aboard dinghies in the Mediterranean, after arriving at the port of Motril, southern Spain, last week. Photo: Pepe Marin
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Angela Merkel once said that if the euro fails, then the entire EU project would fail. She was right about that. She was wrong when she said something similar about dealing with migration last week. Europe can, and is, dealing with the challenges of inward migration. It is not, as all too frequently claimed, an "existential" threat to the continent's political structures.

None of that is to say that the movement of people is anything other than a very important matter. But it has become subject to a lot of confusion and distortion. That it has become one of the central issues in the culture war between reactionaries on either end of the political spectrum makes it even harder for calm discussion of the matter to take place.

Perhaps the first and most important thing to say about migration into Europe is that it is not out of control. Images of inflatable boats in the Mediterranean appear on TV screens across the continent almost on a daily basis. This gives rise to fears of being inundated. Such fears are not groundless.

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