Taking the easy way out of the migration crisis by shutting borders raises the shameful spectre of the Second World War — and will cost citizens and businesses up to €18bn a year, the European Commission has warned.
So far, member states have just taken 208 of 66,400 from Greece and just 279 from Italy of the 39,600 total which member states last year pledged to take.
“Everybody is judged by history just now, whether they really want to take part in this very responsible, comprehensive and in a holistic way face this issue, or we go back to the dark side and dark memories of our recent history,” warned migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
He was presenting a series of reports on all the actions being taken to deal with the largest movement of people since the Second World War which will be presented to EU leaders in Brussels next week.
The commissioner rejected the idea that radical solutions, such as permanently shutting borders or calling in Nato, are needed.
“We are not threatened by enemies, the European territory is not being invaded by an enemy. We have to cope with desperate people that are seeking refuge in Europe. We all, the commission and member states, are committed to the Geneva Conventions so we have to do our moral and human duty, and that is what we do,” he said.
Border controls would interrupt the single market, causing delays for transport of goods, workers and visitors, increasing the price of goods. Direct costs are estimated at €5bn to €18bn, up to €20bn for tourism, and more in indirect costs, the commission report says. The solution lies in regaining control of external borders where all migrants are fingerprinted and registered, those who qualify for asylum are sent to a country willing to take them, and those who do not are sent home.
The EU, meanwhile, has made €10bn available to help countries cope, especially in Italy and Greece where most of the 1.5m migrants landed last year. There is also an urgency to identify the traffickers preying on women and children. In some cases up to 60% of unaccompanied children have gone missing from reception centres, the report warned.
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