EU raises refugee rescue budget
The EU heads of state and government agreed on Thursday to triple the funds for search and rescue operations to nine million euros per month, and to crack down on human smugglers in the Mediterranean. The traffickers are in for hard times, some commentators note. But if refugees drown it's not the fault of smugglers but of the EU's isolationist policy, others argue.
Smugglers aren't the real enemy
Military operations against smugglers won't stem the flow of people trying to cross the Mediterranean, the left-leaning daily taz writes: "Smugglers obey the law of demand and supply. The demand for crossings to Europe is great - and because the EU is increasingly limiting the possibilities to do this the smugglers' black market is thriving. ... People will keep on fleeing as long as that's their only chance for a future. Humanitarian visas that open up legal channels to the EU would take away the smuggler's business base so that their market shrinks. That would be a more sensible investment than putting the resources into Frontex. The EU is ostensibly interested in stopping the smugglers, but its real enemy remains the refugees. To talk of rescue in this context is cynical: the refugees aren't dying because of the smugglers but because of the EU's increasingly militarised isolationist policy."
Nothing new in refugee policy
Aside from the willingness to support the transit states and the countries of origin almost nothing new came out of the special summit, the left-liberal daily Der Standard complains: "In the context of millions of people who have had to flee their homes, the idea of coordinating the distribution of asylum seekers in the 28 member states in a 'pilot project' sounds almost like a mockery. It's not without reason that the UN yesterday called on Europe to accept more refugees. The only thing the leaders could really agree on was that no further refugees should drown in the Mediterranean. Organised smugglers who demand thousands of euros from would-be migrants before sending them to their deaths are in for hard times. And that's a good thing. Some countries want to provide military help in tracking them down. But aside from that, everything will remain pretty much the same."
EU remains hostage to national interests
As with the euro crisis the EU remains hostage to national interests, the liberal daily La Stampa laments in view of the results of the special summit on refugee policy: "Once again Europe has agreed, under the pressure of a tragedy, on limited measures instead of sweeping reform. But without the horror of the drowned migrants breathing down their backs the governments of the individual EU states wouldn't have agreed on anything. They would have gone on as usual, shirking their responsibility and passing it on to others. The problems of the Union are all down to this vacillation between inaction and belated or inadequate intervention. An intervention that also creates new problems instead of improving the situation. That's how it was with the euro crisis and that's how it is in the Ukraine crisis. And the EU is now reacting in the same way to the overcrowded refugee boats that are sinking in the Mediterranean."
Europe must not make compromises
Europe continues to avoid taking clear decisions on the refugee issue, the conservative daily Večernji List criticises: "We have to decide on a basic, radical solution. Either we follow the advice of Pope Francis and become radical Christians, show solidarity, take in refugees and share what we have with them unconditionally. Or we isolate ourselves and erect walls of barbed wire, as the US has done to Mexico and Israel to Palestine. If we take the latter approach, the European values that have prevailed until now will have to be redefined. But there is no third path. All compromises between these extremes will only wash up thousands of corpses on our shores."