Mass migration: Europe’s biggest challenge

To provide for humane and integrative immigration into Europe has always been a tremendous challenge for the EU member states in the past decades. But with the spread of crisis in the Middle-East and Northern Africa over the last years, and with immigration reaching unprecedented and unimaginable heights, these challenges have become almost insurmountable.

Mass migration: Europe’s biggest challenge

Indeed, considered by some as the worst humane exodus since World War II and the biggest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, the record number of 340,000 persons has crossed Europeans borders since the beginning of the year. Only during the last week-end around 7,000 migrants entered Serbia from Macedonia and another 4,400 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean by Italian coastguards.

Overwhelmed by the incoming flow of refugees and migrants through the Mediterranean Sea, Italy and Greece have for months now sound the alarm and called for help from the other EU member states. Angela Merkel, whose country expects the record figure of 800,000 refugees this year (four times higher than last year), is now warning about a crisis potentially more serious than the Greek one.

As stated by CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger: “It is our moral duty to save people at risk of being killed and of drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, but we must face the inevitable too: How can we guarantee shelter and decent life conditions? How to ensure that our authorities are able to cope with the incredible large number of migrants? Not only solidarity and willingness to help is needed, but also the capacity to do so.”

Angela Merkel and François Hollande, who met Yesterday in Berlin to discuss these problems, called for a unified response. They also urged for the creation of new registration centres in Greece and Italy to be run and staffed by the EU by the end of the year and of a new system of mandatory quotas for refugees across the EU despite the proposal of the European Commission being rejected by EU leaders in June.

Local and regional administrations are clearly overcharged and unable to cope with the situation, not least due to a lack the necessary capacities – noteworthy a result of countless one-sided “administration-reduction-measures” of the past years in the name of austerity and cost reduction.

A European solution is now more than ever needed. In a spirit of solidarity, which lied at the heart of the creation of the EU, all member states must support the states directly concerned and admit their shares of refugees within their countries. CESI challenges the member states to implement existing agreements on the matter and has also expressed its strong support for the proposal of the Commission to introduce a system of mandatory quotas.

This important topic will be on the agenda of CESI’s next Trade council Local and Regional Administrations on 16 October.

For more information on CESI’s opinion on the integration of migrants by public services in Europe, please follow this link.