Jorrit Rijpma on Europe's approach to immigration following EU summit
EU Member States are struggling with rising numbers of migrants and asylum seekers. At the recent EU summit, agreements were reached on better controls at the external borders of the European Union and more consultation with countries where migrants come from.
EU border control
According to Jorrit Rijpma, Professor of European Law in Leiden, better control of the external borders means more money for the EU organisation Frontex, which coordinates border control of the European Union, and more money for countries such as Greece, Bulgaria and Croatia.
The Dutch Prime Minister Rutte wants to restrict migration with better border controls and faster return procedures. ‘That sounds logical’ says Rijpma. ‘But it’s been tried before. And each time it becomes clear how difficult it is to achieve in practice. Europe can make threats about all sorts of consequences, but in the end trade interests and diplomatic relations are more important.’
About the proposals for border fences which are being discussed, Rijpma says: ‘You can erect a fence along your border, but you can’t just send people back. Pushbacks are prohibited. A fence will only make access to Europe more difficult and more dangerous. You’re also creating a market for human traffickers. The EU itself has always said that it would not pay for fences. Yet government leaders are now asking for money to strengthen the “border infrastructure” of countries on the edges of Europe.’
Rijpma also wants to do away with the Dublin Regulation. ‘I don’t think there is anyone who believes that the Dublin rules work well. At the European level, look at what is happening in the Netherlands in local municipalities with legislation on dispersal of migrants. No-one wants to take care of reception of migrants. A sense of mutual solidarity is lacking. The Dublin rules are actually very unfair. They place the responsibility for reception on the countries at the external borders. As a result, the weakest shoulders bear the heaviest burden. Dublin is the proverbial elephant in the room. Ultimately, the solution lies in closer European cooperation and sharing responsibility for refugees.’