The problem of migration poses one of the major challenges to the future of the European Union. Residents in more than half of EU countries call for establishing a strict control of migration, in some cases, even suggesting a complete ban on migrant movements. Meanwhile, any productive solution to this effect will inevitably affect freedom of movement of people within united Europe, which is regulated by the Schengen agreements. What are the prospects for the Schengen zone? And can it be preserved in its current format?
Up to the mid-2010s, EU members pursued their own migration policies, “proceeding from their own national interests.” After a dramatic upsurge in the level of migration by 2015 it became clear that the potential of some EU countries was limited. A wave of migration swept Europe. Given the situation, many EU governments chose to resort to unilateral “time-serving” steps without thinking about the damage these steps inflicted on neighboring countries or on the long-term interests of the European Union as a whole. The Dublin Regulations, which obliges the authorities of the first country a migrant has arrived in to consider their application for refugee status “proved “unviable.” This was also because lack of control of internal borders of the EU enabled migrants to freely enter any of the Union states and to obtain social benefits there. The “influx of migrants”, along with the terrorist threat, quickly turned the issue of the Schengen zone “into one of the hottest issues” on the European Union agenda.
Hungary, Malta and Slovenia were the first to introduce border control at the end of 2015. In 2016-2017 Belgium imposed control on the border with France, particularly in connection with terrorist acts on its territory. At present, border control within the Schengen zone is exercised by six states. Austria – on land borders with Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. Denmark – on the borders with Sweden and Germany. In France border control is “selective” in line with the state of emergency declared following the November 2015 terrorist attacks. Germany, which thought better of its original intention to put an end to border checks in May 2016, continues to exercise “selective” border control. Norway (which is a non-EU country) and Sweden are practicing similar measures.
Legally, the Schengen agreements allow for border inspections within the Schengen zone “on a temporary basis”, “in case of emergency” and “proportionally with the scale of the threat.” What could justify such measures is “serious threats” to public security and “internal stability”. In reality, experts of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) say, it is practically impossible to explain in terms of cause and result the logic of countries that only consider the possibility of restricting the Schengen agreements, and of those states that have already restored border control within the EU space. Politicians’ statements are vague; it seems that there is a lack of strategic vision of the impact of such measures on the EU policy as a whole. What could serve as the most plausible explanation of such measures, which pursue tactical interests and ignore long-term consequences, is the desire to cater to public opinion.
The matter is that traditional European parties very quickly found themselves in a situation in which anti-immigrant rhetoric turned into a major factor strengthening the positions of their opponents, who called for returning the main decision-making centers in the EU to the national capitals. Those were the forces that in the early 2010s did not have, as a rule, any chances of acquiring significant political influence. The issue of migration has played a crucial role in the decision of the British voters to withdraw from the EU. In Italy, it was after it assumed tough positions against the EU immigration policy that the League Party became a leading force of the new government in Rome. Sebastian Kurz, who has just been sent into retirement from the post of Austrian Chancellor, largely owed his coming to power to the migration crisis of 2015. And Angela Merkel, the most harsh critic of the migration policy, has the third largest faction in Bundestag.
By summer last year, the debates on the migration issue de facto drove the EU into a political deadlock. The problem of preserving or canceling the internal border control was in the focus of attention. The fragile compromise reached in the course of a summit by the heads of state and government in June 2018 “did a lot to ease their differences but little to resolve the migration problem”. In addition to all that, the leading countries of the EU have failed to get the Visegrad Group countries to secure the implementation of the adopted agreements on the distribution of refugees. These compromise like, controversial decisions has triggered a powerful outcry in many EU countries.
Internal security and migration topped the agenda of an “informal” meeting of leaders of all EU member countries and of the European Commission, which took place in Salzburg on September 19-20, 2018. Austria, Hungary and Italy led the proponents of drastic restrictive measures in relation to migrants. They propose to reorient the EU’s joint efforts from redistribution of asylum seekers to the protection of external borders. In turn, French President Macron came up with political threats against countries that support the idea of greater independence of member states in migration-related matters. He made it crystal clear that countries that do not wish to support the strengthening of the EU’s joint border control and that opt for “greater solidarity” should leave the Schengen zone.
In October same year, rapporteur of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Internal Affairs, Tanja Fajon, said that internal border control within the Schengen zone runs counter to the EU legislation. There were proposed 42 amendments to the rules regulating the procedure of the resumption of border control at the internal borders of the Schengen zone. The ardent opponents to further centralization of the migration policy led by Italy, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia seem unperturbed by threats from Brussels and the richest EU states. In late May, the Hungarian Minister for EU Affairs said that migration control powers should be transferred from the “politically biased” European Commission back to national governments. In Budapest’s opinion, migration policy issues should be tackled by a specially formed council of interior ministers of the Schengen countries.
Meanwhile, according to critics, the opponents of Schengen must have miscalculated the economic dimension of freedom of movement within the EU, which is fairly large. After the exit of the UK, the annual budget of the European Union risks decreasing by at least 10 billion euros. The European Commission has already proposed redistributing part of the total EU budget from Central and Eastern Europe and Baltic countries in favor of Greece, Italy and Spain, which are experiencing, among other things, an influx of migrants. The resulting dissatisfaction of Eastern Europeans provokes new battles which threaten to “slow down, or even nullify 15 years of integration processes”. Meanwhile, as global competition is getting worse, the EU could become a success only if it introduces restrictions on or even cuts down the “major gain of the European “welfare society”” – its social welfare programs. Back in 2016, the German Bertelsmann Foundation estimated losses from reintroduction of permanent border control within Europe for the period from 2016 to 2025 at 77 billion euros for Germany and up to 470 billion for the EU as a whole.
After the start of a campaign to elect deputies to the new European Parliament, a threat to the Schengen agreements came “out of the blue.” The issue acquired such an urgency that Emmanuel Macron, the de facto leader of supporters of further EU integration and federalization, who had strongly advocated the abolition of internal borders, chose to change his point of view. The French President suggested that the Schengen Agreement “could be revised.” Macron supported demands that border of the Schengen zone should be shut for migrants and that the rules of granting asylum in the EU states should be reconsidered to become tougher. He thereby responded to fears and a striving for greater security which are sweeping ever more European voters. Also, Macron proposed creating a common asylum policy that would be in effect in all EU countries. This proposal has caused severe opposition from Hungary and Italy.
Now, according to the results of the elections to the European Parliament (EP), Macron’s supporters in France have lost to the National Association of Marine Le Pen, which calls for decisive steps to restrict immigration. And an equally fierce opponent of the current migration policy, the head of the Italian League, Matteo Salvini, has doubled the number of mandates for the coalition of supporters of the revival of national sovereignty of European countries. However, The Financial Times writes, there is no unity of opinion on the EU’s future migration policy among the “nationalist forces” either, which is not surprising, since it directly reflects the moods of the public. In April this year, commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations, there was a large-scale survey conducted among citizens of 14 EU countries. For the respondents, the most painful loss would be the loss of “the ability to live, work and travel in other EU member states.’ Thus, while searching for a solution to one of the most pressing issues of the day, the EU is confronted with a paradoxical clash of public opinion – ordinary people, while backing freedom of movement (obviously, for themselves) are also in favor of restricting it (apparently, for some “unwelcome” individuals).
Politicians, however, are too pressed for time to reflect on all this, particularly with the next general elections just round the corner. At the start of the third decade of May, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen called for a permanent border control so that Denmark could combat illegal immigration and terrorism. Critics were quick to recall that elections in Denmark are scheduled for next month. In addition, it is not at all clear how it could be possible to infinitely “prolong” internal border controls and at the same time maintain formal membership in the Schengen zone. Given the situation, optimists see their chance in that politicians, like Macron, have finally initiated an open discussion on such a burning issue as migration. Pessimists believe that, by reversing their position on the future of Schengen, representatives of traditional parties play into the hands of ultra-right “populists” and “nationalists”, de facto confirming the veracity of their anti-immigrant slogans. If such a tendency prevails, the EU will face a double-edged dilemma: to reduce the Schengen zone “to a limited number of countries”, or abolish it altogether.
First published in our partner International Affairs
The Name of the Rose: De-evolution of Europe
“He who does not wish to speak of capitalism should remain forever silent about Nazism” – Max Horkheimer famously said. It was a clear and often repeated line of this chief architect from the Frankfurt school of Philosophy – one of the most influential centres of thought in the XX century. This school of thought was tolerant and rather forgiving towards Western societies. Most importantly, the Frankfurters were for sure physically closest one to the post-WWII ideological and geopolitical default lines.
Even the Heideggerian run-away, Herbert Marcuse agreed. His “repressive tolerance” was probably the best indication of the possible self-entrapment of the western society, if someone in future ever attempts a dangerous and a historical equitation between Nazism and anything else, least with Communism. Regrettably enough, that future of de-evolution started pouring in by 1990s:It was this very same notion which Umberto Eco will name ur-fascism in 1995, sensing cold winds from the eastern flank of the EU and highly cynical silence of tacit approval from the central Europe.
Silence of the La(m)bs
“No one governs innocently” is a legendary diagnosis of Simone de Beauvoir about a true (Machiavellian) nature of political conduct. However, Nazi culprit; the calmly programmed concentrations camps, ruthless invasions and unprecedented scale of all-Europe suffering does not fall under this category. And will never be. This colossal evil needs its own name, its own category and our clear immortal reference to it.
Hence, the one who is not ready to talk about the imperialism of (primarily) Atlantic-Central Europe, colonialism, as well as about racism which usually justified the first two, should not talk about the ‘true’ European values. Or, for that matter, teach any lesson Europe’s East and Southeast.
Bottom line, before any contemplation for equitation, we should openly speak up about France in Algeria and Indochina, Italy in Libya and Eritrea, Dutch in Indonesia, Spain in Latin America (and home with Franco), Germany in Namibia and repeatedly all over Europe, Britain at so many places and at so many times, etc.
More than that, the only (i) organised and (ii) permanent resistance in Europe, occupied by Nazis,before and during the WWII was made by the communists. This irrefutable fact many to the EU’s East today perceive as inconvenient truth, which – by anti/intellectual acrobatics and central EU complicit silence– should be hidden under the carpet.
That antifascist struggle does not include Soviet Union and Yugoslavia only – two countries taking up by far the heaviest burden of pan-European resistance and liberation – but other patriotic movements as well; French, Greek, Italian and Spanish communists, too. Of course, the only two counties that solely freed themselves from Nazism without any external help were the two Eastern European, and at the same time two predominantly Slavic countries, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
So, the equitation of Communism with Nazism deeply insults all victims, but more over it negates very antifascist fundaments of modern Europe, while being at the same time deeply anti-Slavic. Clearly, negations of Nazi horrors – and any equitation is a beginning of such a historical and racist negation – committed in camps and elsewhere in occupied Europe, is not only anti-Semitic. It is first and most of all anti-Slavic!!
It isn’t freedom From. It’s freedom To
Sadly enough, most of the popular Atlantist literature and movies elaborating on topics of the WWII are biased and misleading on the role of the Red Army, and are generally disrespectful towards the enormous suffering of the Soviet and Yugoslav peoples at that time.
Some of the constantly implied fallacies is that the US and UK equally shared the burden of WWII with the Soviets. Even the British WWII ambassador in Moscow, Sir Stafford Cripps accused – in many cables he sent – his government of fatalistic defeatism, lack of bravery and of shirking any fight. As it happens, Stalin himself shouted at Churchill when the British PM went to Moscow to meet him in August 1942: “We’re losing 10,000 soldiers a day (1 per 8 seconds!!, rem.aut.)… Are you going to let us do all the fighting?”
Relative to the 1939 size of state territory and incumbent population within, the top WWII fatalities were suffered by Poland– 18%, the Soviet Union– 15%, Yugoslavia 12%, III Reich/Germany+Austria– 10%. For a sake of comparison, the Atlantic rim suffered as follows: France– 1,3%, UK–0,9%, the US– 0,3%. In casulties, it is: 36 millions to the East(mostly civilian), versus only 1,2 of the Atlantic Europe including the US soldiers.
Indeed, Russian and Yugoslav front – as only two fronts of permanently organized military resistance on the Continent – faced nearly 90% of the total German forces deployed in Europe. Promising to open the second, western front ever since 1941, the Anglo-American army eventually managed its landing on Sicily (oddly helped – out of his prison cell – by an Italian village Don turned the US mafia boss, Lucky Luciano) but only as late as September 1943.
By that time, Tito’s Partisans already managed most of their critical offensives, while Russians won over in the biggest and bloodiest battles of the WWII. All of them were fought on the very Soviet soil; that of Moscow, of Stalingrad, of Leningrad, and of Kursk – with the last one representing the biggest battle ever recorded in history of mankind.
Also indigenously, Italian anti-fascists – organized by progressive patriots and gathered in Garibaldi brigades – significantly knocked down the Duce’s rule in Italy.
Conversely, the Anglo-American blitzkrieg up the Italian ‘boot’ turned into a blamage. German forces quickly replaced capitulating Italy’s Fascists phalanges, and easily repelled the Allies. The Western combined army will reach Rome only in June 1944. Eventually, by the time of the Normandy invasion in summer 1944, the fate of Nazism in Europe was already decided by Eastern and Russophone Europe.
Trying to answer why the so-called Anglo-American antifascist intervention in Greece and Italy was so slow, anemic and late, many scholars argue that it was never meant to fight Nazis, but to disturb the strong indigenous leftist antifascist forces and to divert them to the desired ideological orientation and Atlantist geopolitical course.
The name of the Rose? Well, it is Red.
Sorry, but this is how it is. Eco just recorded echo.
Republika Srpska preparing Brexit
The precedence of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union naturally allows other European organizations and individual countries to contemplate the previously inconceivable exit option. While at the EU level there are no indications of any other member states planning to follow in London’s footsteps any time soon, in the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which since the 1990s has been touted as a “window of international peacekeeping,” might by weighing a similar option. In an appeal to members of the republican parliament, Milorad Dodik, who sits on the collective Presidium of this former Yugoslav republic as a representative of the Serb-led entity in Bosnia, Republika Srpska (RS), called on his fellow citizens to prepare for secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He argued that the terms of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which cemented the country’s current state system, had stopped being implemented.
Deliberately speaking in English, Milorad Dodik said: “Farewell to
Bosnia and Herzegovina. Welcome exit!” He added that his call had been prompted
by a a recent ruling by the Bosnian Constitutional Court, which rejected a
regulation passed in Republika Srpska on farmland that used to belong to the
Yugoslav state as unconstitutional.
The law, adopted late last year, declared such land as property of Republika Srpska, but the court ruled that the state of Bosnia was the owner.
“With its decision on farmland, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina went too far,” Dodik said. Emphasizing that the Dayton peace accord “has ceased to be respected,” he accused the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina of trying to “destroy the Serbian identity of Republika Srpska.”
Earlier, Milorad Dodik said that Republika Srpska “has embarked on the course of leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina and this course is irreversible.” The first step in this direction was the Bosnian Serb representatives’ refusal to work in government at the republican level.
All this being said, there is still no reason to talk about any final decision having been made in Banja Luka to withdraw from Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Bosnian Serb leaders try to leave the doors open for a possible compromise. For example, the RS lawmakers decided to ask the central government in Sarajevo to reconsider the Constitutional Court’s decision and reshuffle its lineup (three out of nine of which happen to be foreigners).
Still, the eventual breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina looks like a pretty real scenario, primarily due to the West’s stubborn wish to draw this former Yugoslav republic into the orbit of the Euro-Atlantic partnership, against the will and interests of many of its citizens, above all the Bosnian Serbs. As frankly admitted by Avangarda, a leading Sarajevo-based publication, “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s movement into NATO is not exclusively its internal affair. This is one of the priorities of US-British policy and most of the countries of the European Union, led by Germany. Therefore, the most powerful countries of our time, primarily the United States of America, are interested in bringing Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to NATO.”
“The political structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina who oppose this process will face [these powerful countries’] uncompromising pushback, and any attempt to prevent the country from joining NATO will be suppressed and punished,” the authors warn.
All this means that the Sarajevo authorities are capable of deliberately destabilizing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to provoke an internal conflict and urge the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance to intervene. This also means that the Bosnian Serbs may really have no other choice but to declare their self-determination and turn to other states for support – first of all, to Serbia.
From our partner International Affairs
‘Westlessness’: Shaping Anew the EU’s Power
The endurance of a political order cannot be permanently measured in the absence of any instrument, neither can it be substantially responded to at any given point and time. Similarly, the collapse of a system does not require any clear or prolonged warning. The world has experienced a relatively stable bi-polar system for several decades in the post-Cold War era, gradually replaced by the US dominated neoliberal post-Cold War era which is now being succeeded by a multi-polar world. This is accompanied with shifting alignments.
In the same vein, the debates at the 2020 Munich Security Conference (MSC) provided new insights into the shifts currently underway within the EU.In the most expansive sense of that term: ‘Westlessness’ reigned throughout the MSC despite the fact that it had played a vital role in world affairs after World War II. Earlier, marking the seventy fifth anniversary of the end of the World War II, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, warned that the erosion of international cooperation was evident in the US’s growing interest in Asia at the expense of its transatlantic relations. Will Europe come up more integrated in this shifted paradigm? How would a more sovereign Europe become a better partner to a more socially equal United States on global problems? The technological giants have also disrupted major economies, societies, and political systems.
Historically, Germany as a core EU country has been the largest and most successful economy with a gdp of almost $4 trillion under Angela Merkel, since 2005. Germany sends the most members to the European Parliament. It has efficaciously maintained stability during the euro crisis, the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014 and her open-door policy of 2015, in which over 1 million refugees were given shelter in Germany, was built on those premises. Germany provided an example of how to deal with a difficult past. However, using the legacy of the Holocaust, Germany has craftily absolved itself from the responsibility of security, defense, and leadership precisely. Will it continue to be the same in the post-Brexit paradigm? Steinmeier warned that, “if the European project fails, the lessons of German history will be called into question.”
Merkel’s Germany is already being criticized for not being able to provide international leadership. The objective of an integrated economic and political Europe is similarly unclear. Merkel has also not been able to fend off criticism that Germany has failed to meet the NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, although it is already spending about 1.36 per cent of its GDP.
Within Germany, the ever-growing popularity of the far-right, anti-immigration, and anti-Semitic Alternative for Germany (AfD) has remained increasingly cumbersome for Angela Merkel. It is creating a leadership crisis for Germany. On February 10, 2020, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as Merkel’s designated successor has also resigned as a leader of the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. This leadership crisis has emerged at xenophobic times of nationalism and populism espoused with the state of anomie, in Europe. The strains in the transatlantic relations and the rise in China’s global role have afflicted this specter further afield.
Speaking pronouncedly, the French President Emmanuel Macron also talks about the need for a more integrated Europe by exercising responsibility for Europe’s future. “This united Europe will only survive if we regard it as the most concrete repository for German responsibility . . . of all the dangers I sense facing Germany, I see none greater than that our German narrative of the future dispenses with the united Europe, whether as a result of a lack of insight, because of indifference, or in some people’s eyes even through intent.”
The panacea lies in strengthening European security and defense policy as suggested by Steinmeier. He however, distinctively speculated that it would be opposed by the Central and Eastern Europeans. Besides, the fear is that Europe is no longer relevant for the US in great power competition. “Only a Europe that can and wants to protect itself credibly will be able to keep the U.S. in the alliance,” was a major concern of Steinmeier.
The French President Emmanuel Macron was yet another person at the MSC who supported and rejected the idea of subordination to America in its new role. He even suggested a smaller “core” group of EU nations moving towards a military union. Macron even raised the prospect of France helping this military union by sharing its own nuclear weapons. He suggested ending the dependence of several countries on the US nuclear umbrella and recommended to think in a European way as well. Macron even invited Germany for talks on the subject of nuclear weapons with France. The French leader had earlier asked Merkel for a financial and military contribution to a joint anti-‘jihadist regional force’ under the rubric of G5 Sahel made up of forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
Already, the “Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy” presented by HR/VP Mogherini in June 2016, had laid down the foundations for a comprehensive package of measures in the areas of security and defence. It consists of three major pillars:
New political goals and ambitions for Europeans to take more responsibility for their own security and defence.
New financial tools to help Member States and the European defence industry to develop defence capabilities (“European Defence Action Plan”).
Set of concrete actions as a follow up to the EU-NATO Joint Declaration while identifying areas of cooperation.
Though, this siding of Macron with Germany by indicating the emergence of two blocs – the German led block vs the US led Britain, Australia and New Zealand bloc, shows an obvious lineage in global power trends. The objectives of the two are opposing while the NATO from which France benefitted the most, is almost obsolete for France. Similarly, the time of US-Europe cooperation against Russia also appears to be over.
Notwithstanding, apart from Macron’s closer alliance with Germany, he is also encouraging Europe’s oldest institution: the Roman Catholic Church. Would it mean the Resurrection of the Roman Empire and hence, the church states in the backdrop of rising Islamophobia? This certainly leads to several more questions.
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