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SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Moral dilemma of the European migration security: case study of migration flows for the period of 2015-2019 / Моральная дилемма европейской миграционной безопасности: исследование с 2015 года по 2019 год

Amuhaya Claire Ayuma

аспирант, кафедра Theory and History of International Relations, People's Friendship University of Russia

117198, Россия, г. Moscow, ул. Miklukho- maklaya, 6

Amuhaya Claire Ayuma

Post-Graduate Student of the Department of the Theory and History of International Relations at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia

117198, Russia, g. Moscow, ul. Miklukho- maklaya, 6

ayuma2002@yahoo.com
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Moraru Nicoleta-Florina

кафедра History and Theory of International Relations, Peoples

117198, Россия, Moscow область, г. Moscow, ул. Miklukho- maklaya, 7

Moraru Nicoleta-Florina

The department of History and Theory of International Relations

117198, Russia, Moscow oblast', g. Moscow, ul. Miklukho- maklaya, 7

morarunicoleta19@yahoo.com
Другие публикации этого автора
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/1339-3057.2020.2.32152

Дата направления статьи в редакцию:

10-02-2020


Дата публикации:

30-06-2020


Аннотация.

Каждый раз, когда суверенитету любого государства угрожает опасность, его первым инстинктом является самозащита. В 2015 году Европейский Союз находился в центре внимания, регистрируя беспрецедентное количество мигрантов, в результате чего лагеря беженцев ухудшились до плачевных условий. Нелегальная миграция воспринималась как угроза безопасности в Европе, государства были вынуждены принимать меры, подрывающие саму основу Европейского Союза. Внезапно их политика подпитывалась антииммиграционными настроениями, были проведены антиммиграционные операции, были подписаны соглашения между ЕС и странами происхождения мигрантов, и проводилась более жесткая политика пограничной безопасности, например, строительство заборов. Все это привело к тому, что в 2019 году число нелегальных мигрантов упало до самого низкого уровня. В данной статье анализируется внешняя политика Европейского Союза в отношении нелегальной миграции в период с 2015 по 2019 год, а также рассматриваются крайние меры, принятыми некоторыми государствами-членами ЕС для уменьшения миграции. При этом подчеркивается моральная дилемма, поставленную многими правозащитными организациями, ставящими под сомнение моральные принципы Европы, которые она отстаивает. В статье делается вывод о том, что в вопросах безопасности государства готовы взять на себя моральную основу для того, чтобы обеспечить свою безопасность и положение в глобальной системе.

Ключевые слова: нелегальная миграция, моральная дилемма, внутреняя внешняя безопасность, меры, пограничный конторль, стены и заборы, морской патруль, беженцы, Европа, Европейский Союз

Abstract.

Whenever any state’s sovereignty is threatened, its first instinct is to protect itself. In 2015, the European Union was in the limelight, recording unprecedented numbers of migrants and as a result, refugee camps deteriorated to deplorable conditions. Illegal migration is perceived as a security threat in Europe; states were forced to take measures that compromise the very foundation of the European Union. Their politics suddenly became fuelled with anti-immigration sentiments, anti-immigration operations and agreements between the EU and migrants’ countries of origin were drafted and signed, tougher border security policies were put in place, such as erection of fences. All these measures resulted in the number of illegal migrations to fall to their lowest levels in 2019. This article will analyze Europe Union’s foreign policy on illegal migration between 2015 and 2019 while highlighting the extreme measures that some states within the EU took to mitigate migration. In doing so, it will highlight the moral dilemma posed by many Human Rights Organizations, putting into question Europe’s moral compass that it is known for. A conclusion is made that in matters of security, states are willing to take a moral background in order to safeguard its security and position in the global system.

Keywords:

walls and fences, border control, policies, internal and external security, moral dilemma, illegal migration, sea patrol, refugees, Europe, European Union

Introduction

Even though it has been argued that great waves of migration will continue into the twenty first century and enhanced efforts of states to control their borders are unlikely to succeed [27], states nevertheless still come up with policies to protect their borders especially from illegal migration (also known and referred to as irregular migration in this article). Even though most scholars argue illegal migration controls as a current phenomenon, border controls have always existed, for example, from the 1662 Act of Elizabeth 1 which restricted movement within the country or the USA Act of Congress of 1918 that restricted both immigration and emigration [8] to more recent policies like the 1994 California Proposition 187 whose aim was specific to illegal migrant’s access to basic needs like health and education.

Reasons for such policies is that “illegal migration challenges a state’s command over the space encompassed by its territorial boundaries and thereby also presents a challenge to its sovereignty” [13]. Roxanne Lynn Doty argues that illegal migration occurs against the backdrop of global demographic imbalances between the rich and poor countries [13]. For example, IOM confirmed that over a million irregular migrants and refugees arrived in 2015 in the European Union mostly from Syria, Africa and South Asia [26] either by land or sea. Therefore, migration but more importantly illegal migration is an issue of Global North vs Global South as their different needs inadvertently pose a security threat not only to the European Union’s basic needs, but also a threat to their norms and culture.

However, Europe’s case of illegal migration is not clear cut as such, this is because common forms of illegal migration according to Demetrious Papademetriou are “undocumented/unauthorized entrants, Individuals who are inspected upon entry into another state, but gain admission by using fraudulent documents, Violators of the duration of a visa and Violators of the terms and conditions of a visa” [34]. But Europe’s case is further complicated because these are not the only forms of illegal migration, Germany has increasingly faced illegal migrants from the category of rejected asylum seekers who instead of leaving disappear or Southern Europe who continually face a challenge from former legal residents who are unable to renew their permits [8] which increased the number of illegal migrants in the region. Therefore, it was necessary for Europe to take measures to mitigate migration because it is “concerned with its own set of problems that stem from illegal migration like threats to security, perceived lack of control, effects on labour markets [34]. Suddenly their politics were fuelled with anti-immigration sentiments, the conditions in their refugee camps deteriorated, EU decided to stop rescuing drowning refugees [32], started counting on fences built by some European states to keep migrants away [6], European Parliament adopted regulations on its border and coast guard patrol [36] among many other myriad policies.

But as a result as the article will explore some of these measures threaten the very founding principles of formation of European Union because the immigrants who were mainly from Global South were concerned with “gross disregard for the human rights, labour rights, and other basic rights of their nationals who enter the illegal immigration stream, and the trafficking industry that has grown around such movements.” [34]. Therefore, this article questions the European Union’s measures to grapple with illegal migration, has it in the end violated human rights and in doing so is it going against what the European Union stands for?

Research Methodology and Literature review

By adopting empirical research methodology this article will use data from International organization for migration IOM between the period from 2015 which recorded unprecedented number of migrants and 2019 which witnessed one of the sharpest drop of migrant arrivals on the border as the main source of data. By using this data, the article will analyse Europe’s illegal migration policies and operations that led to the decline. Such policies and operations include, the EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling (2015 - 2020) [14] , Council conclusions on migrant smuggling [11] A European Agenda on Migration (13/05/2015) [2], Action Plan on the Central Mediterranean Route [4] , European border and coast guard reports [36],[37],[38],[41],[20] , Action plan on measures to support Italy, reduce pressure along the Central Mediterranean route and increase solidarity [3] and Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council - Progress report on the Implementation of the European Agenda on Migration [10].

As a result of these legislations, several institutions were established like the European Migrant Smuggling Centre [19], EU internet referral unit – EU IRU [15], EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA [17], FRONTEX [22], Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration [35], European Border Surveillance System – EUROSUR.

The literature used are mainly the ones on migration such as. Baldwin M. Edwards [8] P. Kennedy [27], R. L. Doty [13], D. G. Papademetriou [34] , B. T. Koca [28] and newspaper articles like Guardian [16],[9], Independent [32], CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) [6], Reuters [7], Euronews [23], Politico [29], The Brussels Times [5], European Council on Foreign Relations [21].Non- governmental organisations like Amnesty International [12],[25],[30],[31], Human Rights Action Centre and Human Rights Watch are the main source of literature as well.

European Union’s illegal migration patterns and border control measures from 2015 to 2019

Irregular migrants

Year

Sea

Land

Total

2015

971,289

34,215

1,005,504

2016

390,456

2017

188,372

2018

147,683

2019

128,536

[26]

According to United Nations international migration report in 2015 “Nearly two thirds of all international migrants live in Europe (76 million)” [42] and out of all these migrants in the same year according to International Organisation for migration the number of illegal migrants also referred to as irregular migrants in Europe were over 1 million (see table above). The illegal migrants were mainly from Syria and Africa because of the civil war that broke in Syria in 2015 and following the 2011 Arab Spring in North Africa.

Over 96% of the illegal migration to Europe in 2015 was by sea. This is despite Italy which is the main country entry point having had previous operations to help curb illegal migration. Such policies included operation “Mare Nostrum” of 2013 which was replaced by European Union border protection operation Triton in 2014. In spite of all these operations, 2015 saw a rise of illegal migrants by sea leading to the conclusion that the operations did not deter illegal migration. In fact, critics say that “the cancellation of the Italian-run sea rescue mission, Mare Nostrum, and the launch in November of Triton, a much smaller border surveillance operation by the EU, created the conditions for the higher death toll.” [16]

Nevertheless, after the unprecedented number of illegal migrants in Europe in 2015, Europe embarked on measures to reduce illegal migration such as ‘tougher border controls, ever greater labour market regulation, higher energy interior policing, and more persistent efforts to reduce the demand for asylum (by making it more difficult both to launch applications and succeed in the adjudication process)” [34]. Because of “limited availability of legal migration routes, people are pushed towards criminal networks to facilitate their unauthorised entry into, transit through or stay in the EU” [39] and since in 2015 most of the immigrants were illegal they were prone to migrant smuggling criminal activities. Thus, In May 2015, the European Union “Commission adopted an Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling designed to transform smuggling from a 'high profit, low risk' activity into a ‘high risk, low profit’ business, while ensuring the full respect and protection of migrants' human rights” [2]. Following up on the agenda on Migration for 2015 which identifies the fight against migrant smuggling as a key priority in 2016 European Migrant Smuggling Centre was founded “following a period of highly dynamic irregular migration, with vulnerable migrants travelling largely unrestricted in sizeable groups across the Mediterranean Sea, external land borders and further on, into Europe towards their desired destination countries” [19]. The operation achieved some major success because in 2016, it received almost 12 000 messages via Europol’s SIENA secure communication network – a 34 % increase when compared to 2015 which could be a direct contribution to the reduction of illegal migrants from over 1 million in 2015 to only about 390,000 in 2016.

In the same breadth in February of 2017 a “Memorandum of Understanding on development cooperation, illegal immigration, human trafficking, fuel smuggling and reinforcement of border security” [33] was signed between the Italian Prime Minister Head of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord. As stated above in 2015 over 96% of all migrants used the sea route and the “increasing crossings through the Central Mediterranean, which represent the final step for Sub-Saharan migratory flows transiting primarily through Niger and Libya, have led to the emergence of a policy approach aimed at reducing crossings from Libya to Italy at any cost” [33]. As a result of the aforementioned MoU, a year later in March 2018 Italian Ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Peroni praised the joint efforts in dealing with illegal immigration and stated that “there was a remarkable cooperation between Rome and Tripoli in reduction of illegal migration flows and the humanitarian management of the phenomenon, resulting in a decline of the number of migrants crossing towards Europe" [44].

Since the start of Europe's migrant crisis in 2015 up to 2018 several European countries have erected seven migration fences which is estimated to be about 1000 miles. “Macedonia built a fence with Greece. Greece and Bulgaria have erected barbed wire fences on the border with Turkey. Hungary built a 175 km fence on the border with Serbia and a 350 km fence on the border with Croatia. Slovakia put a fence with Croatia, Austria with Slovenia. The UK financed a 13-foot-high barrier in the French port city of Calais, aimed at preventing refugees and migrants from entering Britain” [43].

According to Hungary the walls have had an impact because “the fences helped cut migrants on its borders by nearly 100% since 2015, along with a deal made by Turkey and the European Union to stem the flow of migrants reaching the continent” [24]. Similar sentiments were echoed by Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe of the firm that operates a tunnel between France and Britain who were responsible for a major security upgrade. He said “there have been no disruptions to services since mid-October 2015, so we can say that the combination of the fence and the additional police presence has been highly effective,” to ease the flow of illegal migrants.

Tougher border controls did not only affect external Europe borders but also internal border due to illegal migration from the case of rejected asylum seekers who are required to leave but instead disappear especially within the Schengen countries [8]. As reported by ministry of interior of Germany between January 2015 and June 2016 more than 600 deportations from Germany by plane were abandoned. As such since September 2015, internal border controls within Schengen countries have been reintroduced and prolonged almost 50 times [40]. This was because “Secondary movements of irregular migrants and the increase of cross-border terrorist threats posing a serious threat to the internal security or public policy have led a number of Schengen States over the last two years to temporarily introduce border control at internal borders” [40]. especially more so for countries like Germany. But that was not all, previously the time limit for temporary reintroduction of border controls at internal borders used to be six months but in 2017 the commission for Schengen borders put a proposal so “that the time limit for temporary reintroduction of border controls at internal borders for the foreseeable duration of the serious threat is increased up to one year (instead of six months) and the limit for the length of prolongation periods is increased from up to 30 days to up to 6 months” [40].

The conclusion to the measures is that the official European response to Europe’s migrant crisis was for member states to pull together and provide shelter for people, but the reality was most members failed to take their quotas of refugees and nearly a dozen built barricades to try to keep both migrants and refugees out [7] and from the decline of illegal migrants, the measures worked but has it been without criticism?

The question of moral dilemma

Some Europeans argue that “as Europeans – inside or outside the EU – we need to keep hold of our own moral compass. Let us be clear: every nation has a moral and legal obligation to rescue those at peril on the high seas.” [32] It is Such blanket statements lead to the sentiments that “perfection cannot become the policy goal when dealing with illegal immigration. The standards it demands are too high, and any policy designed to meet them will ultimately be judged a failure [34] as was the case of Europe’s measures to mitigate illegal migration. According to Amnesty international Europe’s strategy to minimise illegal migration “not only exacerbates the disparity between developed and developing countries in the number of refugees they are taking in, it also undermines any claim by the EU to be a standard bearer for human rights.” [12] They further argue that rather than “improving conditions in refugee camps and establishing viable asylum-systems, the focus has been on increasing border controls and stepping up returns.”[12] Such sentiments are based on a research done by Doctors of world group, the study of one of the refugee camps in France “of conditions in the migrant and refugee camp reveals the shocking reality inside one of Europe’s largest shanty towns, where about 3,000 residents, including an increasing number of women and children, are living in conditions far below any minimum standards for refugee camps” [9]. It is based on search reports that human rights groups started calling out Europe on the measures they took.

The Mediterranean boat crisis also that had a death toll of four hundred people sparked anger from human right activists like Susan Monroe of freedom from torture who said “Many of the dead were fleeing persecution, violence, torture or the threat of torture and would have had a legitimate claim to seek asylum within Europe” [18] because of the stringent border rules then most people end up at the hands of traffickers in an attempt to flee to Europe. The same applies on the fences that were erected, “they have not stopped people trying to come. Instead, they have diverted them, often to longer, more dangerous routes. And rights groups say some fences deny asylum-seekers the chance to seek shelter, even though European law states that everyone has the right to a fair and efficient asylum procedure” [7]. So despite having the anti-smugglers operation, because of the stringent measures from Europe the result has been migrants and refugees often turn to people-smugglers thereby increasing the number of illegal migrants who otherwise would have been legal.

Amnesty international further argue that the policy that Europe is externalisation and such “policies increase the likelihood of human rights violations. This is particularly the case if measures to tighten border control are encouraged politically (including by leveraging aid) and facilitated technically (through training and equipment) in countries with problematic human rights records” [12]. This was further reiterated recently, on the 3rd of February 2020, when Italy renewed the Memorandum of Understanding with Libya to stop migrants into Europe. Amnesty International said “the decision by the Italian government to ignore the horrific abuses being inflicted on tens of thousands of people in Libya, and renew the Italy-Libya deal that traps them in the war-ravaged country, is a shameful display of how far EU governments are prepared to go to keep refugees and migrants from Europe’s shores” [31].

There was a challenge to even within the European countries with the calls to answer on the humanitarian crisis from the vast numbers of refugees. The countries were to share out the refuges within the European member states into quotas but “only Germany and Sweden were prepared to answer the humanitarian call, whilst Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic simply refused to accept their relatively small quotas. The French, too, seemed to find it difficult to cooperate with their Italian neighbours” [32]. This proved a challenge which led to country like Italy which was the entry point country into Europe by most illegal migrants by sea to call of operations such as SOPHIA which were designed to rescue refugees in the sea.

Conclusion

As history bares us witness the issue of migration but more specifically the management or control of illegal migration is a never ending issue especially when states security and sovereignty is threatened. That indeed some measures states put in place as exemplified by European Union indeed mitigate illegal migration. Nevertheless, human rights activists will always insist on the moral highroad therefore whatever states do they will in one way or another receive a backlash on some of their measures.

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