What is a viable solution to Europe’s refugee crisis?

While the EU is overwhelmed by the tasks of containing Russia, redirecting profligate southern governments, and by blocking terrorism, it is more attractive to hundreds of thousands of migrants than ever before. Whether this is a fatal, or welcome attraction, is hotly debated.

Germany, which for many played the role of the bad cop during the so-called Eurocrisis, appears now as the good angel in the migrant crisis. While the EU may be technically able to take in more than 1 million refugees and labor migrants in 2015 alone, even superficial extrapolations for the coming years clearly show that the EU cannot alleviate ongoing and deep crises in the MENA area as well as the Balkans by accepting millions of people.

So what could a viable solution look like?

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  1. Jochen Wermuth 3 years ago

    Stop refugees with renewable power:

    We are in the middle of a new industrial revolution: The combustion engine is being replaced by renewable power just as the steam-engine was replaced by the combustion engine. This is not because governments agreed on CO2 emission targets, but simply because solar power is now cheaper from the grid and will replace fossil fuels.

    The price of solar power per kWh was 600 cents when Germany started its feed-in tariff law (EEG) howver has now fallen to 4 cents in Austin Texas this August, a price at which it out-bid nuclear, diesel, gas and even coal. The oil price would have to fall to $7/barrel to be able to compete with such low solar power costs! The German households paid the bill for this development and its benefits are now available globally.

    In Northern Africa and the Middle East one can install solar power on homes or large-scale facilities today which would give people a basis to stay at home. Decentralized renewable power would also strengthen individual rights and reduce the need to go to war in far-flung places. Energy is needed to generate clean water, to provide light for reading or to charge devices providing information. Happily, thanks to the low cost of solar power today, in particular in comparison to diesel which produces power at between 35 to 50 cents/ kWh, these solar installations do not have to be a grant. They can be a profitable long-term investment. One can offer local communities or home-owners to either borrow the money or to co-own the facility and thus solve the refugee crisis and help address the global climate challenge and the European employment crisis at the same time. The European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Financial Corporations all are set up to implement such investment programs and should start now.

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  2. Justas Paleckis 3 years ago

    I think that refugees and economic migrants from MENA countries have heard nothing about Europe’s economic crisis. They are convinced that there is a paradise waiting for them, especially in Germany, because they escape countries torn apart by military actions or submerged into an economic pit with no prospects.

    How would the US react if the same people would be able to sail to its shores? Indeed the fence built on the border with Mexico suggests the direction of that kind of response. But the EU is not the melting pot which created US prosperity. The majority of Europeans would not want a United States of Europe which would destroy the individuality of its various nations. It is not difficult to predict that in the near future new and old anti-emigration parties will rise to power in some EU countries. This is even possible in the “good angel’s country” - though the role of Germany nowadays in setting an example and coordinating the overall response is a very positive one.

    One possible result for the future would be less enthusiasm for the "Arab Spring" and similar turns when new, even more chaotic and inhumane dictatorships replace the old ones. The Europeans, perhaps, will have to come to terms with the fact that their values are not universal. As well, they will have to learn to live with one million or perhaps many more people from MENA countries. This will be particularly difficult in the new EU states.

    Migration waves in the future will be even larger and spread throughout the world. To such a global challenge the only successful response can be a global one. The United Nations either gradually will become something like a world government or their significance will continue to decline in a world more and more torn apart by conflict.

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  3. Shen Dingli 3 years ago

    The fundamental solution is to restore stability and order in MENA, so as to stop the further exodus of refugees. Otherwise, Europe has to expect greater refugee outflows. Indeed, the more the EU would accept them, the more the EU would greet future waves of them.

    One has to address the root cause of such an exodus. Sure there are many local governance failures, but this hasn’t necessarily lead to the pouring out of refugees in the past. For the current refugee crisis in Europe, it was the US Iraq War in 2003 that has destabilized the region, generating many refugees fleeing to Syria. Then, the premature withdrawal of the US armed forces from Iraq created a power vacuum in Iraq, leaving ISIS to rise unchecked, further deteriorating the refugee problem. Furthermore, the US meddling of the Syrian Civil War, in the name of supporting local revolution, has not only weakened the previously existing order, but helped sustain instability there, eventually producing millions of refugees moving outward.

    So the solution: going to Syria and Iraq and rebuilding local stability. In Syria, no matter if one likes the existing regime or not, they shouldn’t dream of regime change. Rather, they should learn to live with a regime that could be flawed, as its alternative could be even worse. Help reconcile the government and the opposition, rather than keeping support to the opposition, sustaining a hopeless conflict that results in more refugees. Similarly, the international community should help build national reconciliation in Iraq, allowing all sorts of political forces to share the domestic political pie.

    The US has done all the damage and cannot go and leave freely in MENA, leaving the burden of refugees to Europe. There should be an international effort to seek American accountability for such an unprecedented refugee problem since the end of WWII. Those US leaders and ex-leaders should be brought to international justice for generating such a massive humanitarian disaster. America shall also be financially liable to defray the cost of present Europe’s hosting of refugees, and to pay for its part in restoring order to the MENA region.

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  4. Julian Junk 3 years ago

    The fact that Europe is an attractive place for refugees from all over the world is surely not a fatal attraction but rather a welcome opportunity to reflect on the historical success story of European integration, which has brought European citizens an unprecedented period of social stability, economic prosperity, and political freedom. This enables us to be a safe haven for those in desperate need, to provide possibilities for those who are willing to thrive by integrating into our societies and economies, and to profit immensely as an aging continent from new and global ideas, new energy, and new ambition. It will, at the same time, open a window of opportunity for policy change both internally with regard to disastrously failing European asylum and immigration policies (failing for years and not only at the moment) and externally with a rethinking of the fairytales of border security and of a wealthy island that is not affected by conflicts and economic, social and political hardship all over the world.

    To open such a window of opportunity will be hard fought and result, as always in Europe, in a very incremental process of reform, with ups and downs. It puts an immense strain on European societies and on the European integration project. A viable solution can, by definition, only be based on long-term strategies, but there is a need for immediate decisions now. While this is certainly a far too complex topic to discuss within such a short response, here are a few important measures that can be taken in this regard:

    - enable European diplomatic missions all over the world to accept and to review applications for asylum and adjust the staffing levels and qualifications accordingly.

    - discuss criteria for accepting economic migrants and do so not by narrow caps but by realistic assessments of the labor markets in Europe for the next decades to come.

    - assess the numbers of both asylum seekers and migrants realistically and adapt staffing levels in national, regional and local administrations accordingly. Start today to allocate sufficiently high funds to the local and civil society levels - and do so with not too much red tape or bureaucratic procedures.

    - formulate comprehensive and global prevention strategies that allocate funds and shares intelligence across political levels, departments and ministries to monitor all regions of the world, in order to provide early warning of political, economic, and social crises, and to target those with comprehensive sets of diplomatic pressure, developmental aid and security policies.

    - most of these issues related to asylum, migration and border security can be decided upon by qualified majorities in the European Council. Do not always insist on consensus, where the treaties allow differently - there is hardly a chance to convince Orban or the likes on policies like that. The commission should not shy away from being a true guardian of the treaties in this regard and sue states for non-compliance.

    - the difficulties involved in reaching European compromises should not be a smoke screen for not developing national solutions and proceeding on that policy level. Rhetorically, states should not fall into the trap of technocracy or worse, of isolationism or xenophobia, but speak the language of empathy, opportunity, and pragmatism. After all, history provides us with many lessons regarding the long-term positive effects of migration and of integration. But it also holds many warning signs of the vicious circles of escalating rhetoric.

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  1. AW 3 years ago

    First of all I would like to say, that the Xinhua comment is hypocrisy par excellence. Chinese obviously do not care about the refugees and just use the crisis in order to promote their mantra about sovereignty and the necessity to negotiate. Thank you very much, it helps a lot in the current situation. Especially concerning the fact, that Germany, which is taking the majority of the refugees now, has not participated in ANY the conflicts listed.
    I also find it an interesting point, that Europeans supposedly do not want "Unite States of Europe", but they, especially the Eastern Europeans, do want the money, with which Brussels provides them. And they urge other Europeans to provide their security in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Sorry, Mr. Paleckis, but if you want to built a fence around your country, you have to built it in every direction, including that of your European neighbours.

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  2. Dimitrios Triantaphyllou 3 years ago

    The Catch-22s
    Why isn’t Europe doing more to cope with the refugee crisis?
    Maybe because it cannot…
    Why can’t Europe do more to cope with the refugee crisis?
    Because it fears the further rise of xenophobic, racist, and populist parties of the right across the continent…
    Why isn’t Europe doing more to limit the appeal of the xenophobic, racist, and populist parties of the right across the continent?
    Maybe because it cannot…
    Why can’t Europe do more to limit the appeal of the xenophobic, racist, and populist parties of the right across the continent?
    Because it is suffering from a crisis of leadership ever since the economic crisis made its appearance in 2008 and the model of governance – elitist - that has been the glue holding the process of European Integration together cannot seem to connect with the citizens anymore…
    What does Europe need to do to address the crisis of governance?
    Deal with it…
    Will it? Can it?
    I hope so…otherwise the whole process of integration as well as the various variants of the liberal democracy model that make up its member states will be vulnerable to serious setbacks…and populism will become the dominant feature of the public sphere and the polity…and the refugee crisis and the inability to integrate the refugees in our countries would have contributed to the inexorable demise of our way of life…

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  3. Sandy 2 years ago

    What liatnbeirg knowledge. Give me liberty or give me death.

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  4. Amir Salimi 1 year ago

    It has been two years since this question was asked here. I cannot believe my eyes when I see scholars and well educated people leave such comments. Once, a man was telling the story of how he wanted to legally enter so called "Great Britain" and the officer was asking him why do you want to enter UK? He said I have a business. Officer asks and how long are you going to stay? He replies: 2 weeks sir. The officer asks: How can you assure me that you are telling the truth? He says: that is a good point sir. maybe we should have asked the same question when you were intending to enter our country. Moreover, we did not know anything about "Great" Britain. You started exploring the world and establishing colonies telling everyone how great Britain was. That is why I am here now.
    It might seem funny but it has a bitter truth. Europeans call it "Refugee Crisis" today, but did they call it colony crisis when they were looking for living space? Who started sucking the resources in MENA? Who started committing coups in the region? Who started toppling governments in the region so that they could have more "reliable" partners to make sure they get a "fair share" of resources? Who started to protect dictators and preventing the people in the region to have democracies? Gaddafi, Bin Ali, Saudis, Saddam Hussain would not stay in power if there was not protection from European countries and USA. Who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and boosted the chaos in the region? How Al-Qaede and Taliban came to existence? Who supported the chaos in Syria to topple Assad in the beginning? Who were opposing the idea of nationalization of the resources in MENA to get benefits more easily?
    I believe if you answer all these questions you would realize Europe is not a paradise. MENA is a chaos because of western colonial and living space policies made it this way. Now the Europe has the responsibility. If you think it is not Europe or USA problem, then I am sorry to let you know that you are a Fascist. If you think you should consider your benefits and interests first rather than peoples` lives, then you are a Fascist. If you think refugees are bad for your economy or bad for your interests, I would remind you to kindly look back to the history and think about the reasons and causes that lead to HOLOCAUST, what made a certain party become dominant and ruin the whole world, who would also make the same argument to say some certain groups are useless and harmful to the society. One might easily find the same patterns in European countries recent perspective towards refugees. As a conclusion, I would say it is really simple. You made MENA this, you are responsible. Is it a crisis? Call it whatever you want. You made it, you deal with it.

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