Kenan Malik in Padaemonium:
How do you solve a crisis? By brushing it far enough away from your gaze so you can pretend that it is no longer there. That, at least, appears to be the European Union’s approach. For more than a year, the migration crisis has torn at the heart of the EU, creating deep tensions between members, and raising questions about the future of freedom of movement within the union, and indeed about the future of the union itself.
Europe’s leaders have been desperately trying to figure out a solution. This week, after months of negotiation, they stitched together a deal with Turkey. Its main aim is to allow the EU to push the problem far enough away to pretend that it is not there.
Under the deal, the details of which are still being hammered out, all irregular migrants crossing from Turkey to Greece will be sent back. A ‘one for one’ agreement will allow one Syrian from a Turkish refugee camp to be resettled in the EU, for every Syrian refugee returned to Turkey from Greece. For non-Syrians, the route to Europe is entirely cut off.
In return, the EU has promised to speed up plans for Turks to travel without visas inside the EU and to actually pay Ankara some of the €3 bn that was promised in October for Turkish help in closing its borders to migrants. Turkey has reportedly asked for an extra €3 bn, which is still being negotiated. Turkey has also demanded that concrete steps be taken to resume its accession negotiations with the EU.
Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council, has described the deal as a ‘breakthrough’ and ‘historic’. It is, in fact, immoral and unworkable.