The migration crisis is an issue that dominated this weeks EU summit. In 2015, the number of arrivals from across the Mediterranean peak at over 1 million in just one year. And although according to the UN, the figures have gone down this year, polls show that migrations in the number one concern of voters. It’s even swayed elections in a number of countries including France, Austria, Italy, Germany and Hungary. But as European leaders discuss how best to handle the irregular immigration seen since 2015, what’s causing the political crisis; and how does the EU plan to handle it?
What are the causes of the migration crisis?
There are two immediate causes to the crisis. The first is the rise of the far right across Europe. These groups have pledged to halt immigration, as we’ve seen in Italy. Italy have taken over 650,000 migrants since 2014 and the country’s leader, who is a member of the far-right League, has argued that other EU members need to come up with a fairer system of taking in migrants. Following this, Italy refused to allow migrant rescue ships to use the countries ports and they were forced to make the journey to Spain, which has fuelled tensions between EU countries.
Other countries, including Germany, which has taken over 1 million migrants since the start of the crisis, are seeking an EU wide solution. However, some member states, for example Ireland, have adopted the principle that asylum seekers should stay in the first state they land in. Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic share this principle and have refused to take more refugees under an EU plan.
What will happen going forward?
How the European Union will handle the issue is still unclear at this stage. But, the majority of member states have agreed to tighten European borders by increasing funding to the EU’s coastguard and frontier. They have also backed giving additional funding to countries in North Africa, which would include setting up the controversial “disembarkation” centres along the African coast. However, this plan has seen a number of legal challenges.
In terms of refugees who are already in Europe, as well as those who arrive in the future, EU leaders are still unclear over how member states will fairly relocate them. A bilateral process could still be made, although the EU hasn’t announced any details of this and it’s bound to cause further disputes.
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