EU reacts to refugee deaths
After the death of hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean, the EU Commission presented a ten-point action plan on migration on Monday. Among other things sea rescue services are to be improved. Commentators find the plan inadequate and call for a carefully planned development and trade policy, increased measures to inform potential refugees about the risks of migration and the processing of asylum requests in the countries of origin.
Improve development and trade relations
The EU Commission's urgent measures must be complemented by long-term strategies, the liberal daily La Libre Belgique points out: "That is where the coherence and consistency of the European response will be judged. Pacifying and rebuilding war-ravaged states calls for the appropriate diplomatic efforts. To improve the economic conditions in the worst-hit countries, commitments for development aid must be fulfilled - a far cry from today's reality. In addition we need a trade policy that doesn't weaken the countries we're supposedly trying to help. The EU presents itself to the world as a model in terms of the protection and respect for rights like human dignity, democracy and solidarity. It's time for it to put its money where its mouth is, now and also long-term. Words alone are not enough."
Recruit skilled workers from Africa
Until Europe starts tackling the problem directly in the countries of origin and transit states there can be no solution to the refugee problem, the liberal-conservative daily Tagesspiegel believes: "The best rescue mission is the one that prevents refugees from putting their lives in danger in the first place. For example through information campaigns warning potential migrants about the fatal risks involved. And by setting up legal migration paths to Europe. In that way asylum applications, requests for families to be reunited or other reasons could already be submitted on the other side of the Mediterranean. In addition, why not follow the example of Portugal, Spain and Greece, and recruit some of the skilled workers Europe requires in Africa? That might at least reduce the flow of illegal immigrants and avoid some fatal journeys."
Europe's shameful double standard
Pope Francis said last year that the EU's refugee policy makes him worry about Europe's 'soul'. He has recognised the truth of the state Europe is in, the Wiener Zeitung writes: "Europe has become an authority on double standards, and as a result the pope is forced into the degradation of forgiving the sins this entails. Many citizens are appalled when they read about the deaths in the Mediterranean in the media - yet at the same time they sign petitions against local refugee centres. These refugees come from African countries whose structures - like in Libya - have been destroyed by Europe. It's always about the mineral resources, never about the people. We allow oil from Libya into our countries, but we let the people drown. No one wants to deal with their plight. It's no easy job being pope in such a world. Christian charity? Forget it. This pope will be followed by another, and he too will speak rousing words. If Europe doesn't rediscover its soul, those words, too, will be wasted."
A disgrace for the elites of the Arab world
It's too easy to just lay all the blame for the growing number of refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean on Europe, the conservative daily Lidové noviny remarks: "Those who speak of Europe's disgrace should look up the places where the tragedies occur on the map. They don't take place in European waters but in Libyan waters. Is it to Europe's disgrace that thousands of people are dying in Libyan waters? Isn't it rather a disgrace for the elites of the Muslim world, who are incapable of creating conditions to keep people from fleeing elsewhere? It's true that Turkey and Lebanon have taken in a large number of refugees from Syria and Iraq, and for this they deserve respect. But the big bankers of this world are sitting in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the Emirates. Have they done at least as much for the refugees as they have for the jihadists? ... Europe's disgrace is of a different nature: the inadequate solidarity among its states and the lacking willingness to protect the southern border as one."
Stop refugee boats with naval blockade
The refugee tragedies in the Mediterranean can only be prevented by making it impossible for migrants to attempt the journey across the Mediterranean in the first place, the conservative paper The Daily Telegraph believes: "Clamping down on the traffickers who are effectively guilty of murder for cramming so many people into leaking hulks is another approach; but they are based in countries where law and order has collapsed, like Libya. A more hard-headed approach would be to operate a naval blockade of the ports from which most of these precarious craft embark. Surely, as Matteo Renzi, Italy's prime minister, has proposed, the most compassionate response to this calamity would be to stop the ships before they make it to the open sea."