Could migration destroy the 'European project'?

Migrant quotas run the risk of turning lots of Europeans against the EU, writes Christopher Goff.

Migration has already damaged what EU leaders like to call their 'European project'. And I am not referring to the migration of non-Europeans into the EU, but instead the legal movement of people between EU member states. Britain's decision to leave the European Union is thought by many to have been largely inspired by the discontent felt amongst lots of people at the arrival in the UK of hundreds of thousands of migrants, mostly from those newly acceded Central and Eastern European countries, and where living standards are much lower than in Western Europe. In Britain, migrants have driven down wages and plunged public services, in particular housing and healthcare, into crisis.

There were people who warned of the potential pitfalls of EU enlargement. Some countries introduced temporary restrictions on the movement of people from those newly acceded Central and Eastern Europe counties, but Britain, under a Labour-controlled Government at the time, decided against this option. The following eight countries joined the European Union in 2004: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, along with Malta and Cyprus. And in January 2007, Romania and Bulgaria also acceded.

It goes without saying that the question of why Tony Blair's Labour Government decided not to introduce temporary restrictions on the movement of people from the newly acceded states is a really good one, and the best answer that people seem to have come up with on this matter so far is the one that goes like: 'But we didn't expect quite so many people to come'. However, if Britain had opted to introduce temporary restrictions I think these same people would still have come to the UK, and in more or less the same number, only perhaps later than has been the case – other EU member states typically put in place movement restrictions lasting just two years, while the French chose to limit access for five years. Of this, some might claim that Britain's decision not to adopt temporary restrictions was actually a blessing in disguise, in so far as it was better for the British people to arrive at their decision to leave the EU sooner than they might otherwise have done.

Britain leaving the EU will not be a fatal blow for the organization. Already there is the resolve amongst EU leaders to construct a stronger European Union without Britain, and this resolve is further strengthened by what is a seemingly better relationship between France and Germany which has formed in the aftermath of Emmanuel Macron's election victory, Macron being an avowed supporter of the 'European project'. But make no mistake, there is trouble ahead for the EU. And it is the same kind of trouble which precipitated Britain's departure from the supra-national organization … migration.

But this time around the problem isn't the migration of EU citizens between EU member states. Instead, it is the movement to Europe of vast numbers of non-Europeans from the Middle East and, in particular, from Africa. Europe's liberal-elite have denied the existence of a migration problem for a long time now, but this strategy is wearing thin against a background of huge numbers of Africans arriving in Europe, not only each week, but each day. The migration problem has now reached the point where it can no longer be hidden or ignored.

The Africanization of Europe has truly begun. Africans are currently arriving in Italy at the rate of about 12,000 to 15,000 each week, and everyone is expecting the number of migrants reaching Italy this year to break all previous records. Latest figures show that 85,183 migrants arrived in Italy by sea in the first six months of 2017 – up 19% on last year's figures – while other locations around the Mediterranean have reported similar increases in the numbers of people arriving.

It seems the Italians might have reached the end of their tether in respect of the migration problem, and the Italian government is now agitating for the introduction of a number of measures to both help stem the flow of migrants and to assist in their re-location to other parts of Europe. As a not infrequent visitor to Italy myself, I can understand the deep frustration that many Italians must be feeling. In the space of just three or four years, groups of young Africans have become a common sight hanging around in Italy's public spaces, each one it seems visibly pleased with their achievement of making it to 'a land of plenty' and where even if they were never to work they will still enjoy a far better life than the ones they left behind in the slums of Kinshasa, Brazzaville, or wherever they have come from. If this were not the case, well then these people would never have risked being drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in order to get to Europe.

The situation has become so dire that the Italian government has given Maurizio Massari, its ambassador to the EU, a mandate to seek what has been called a "drastic revision of EU asylum procedures", and Interior Minister Marco Minniti has even spoken of the possibility of the Italian government refusing boats not carrying the Italian flag permission to dock at its ports, saying "If the only ports refugees are taken to are Italian, something is not working. We are under enormous pressure". The humanitarian operation to rescue migrants, and then process and distribute them throughout Italy, is unsurprisingly proving to be a huge drain on resources. After the initial processing of migrants, even more resources are then having to be spent on housing and providing them with access to services like education and healthcare. Lots of migrants are found to be carriers of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV.

Do not be fooled into thinking that Europe's elite care much for the welfare of those ordinary Europeans whose lives have been negatively impacted upon by migration, or for that matter the thousands of Africans who have been drowned attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, what the liberal-elite care about most is their 'European project', and if there now exists the desire to tackle the problem of vast numbers of non-Europeans entering Europe illegally it is only because of the dawning realization of the threat that migration poses to this project.

The role of the European Union's border force, called Frontex, has also come into question. Critics say it merely acts as a 'ferry service' for tens of thousands of migrants on their way to Europe, and that it only encourages more and more people to embark on the perilous journey in the first place. The 'migration genie' is well and truly out of the bottle, and the feeling amongst people like me for a long time now is that a 'tsunami of migration' is forming that no amount of border security will be able to stop, and what we are now witnessing is only the start of the start. While at the moment Africans travel northwards to seaports on the south coast of Mediterranean Sea, like those in lawless Libya, before climbing aboard rickety boats and rubber dinghies, I think in the future we might witness vast, unstoppable swarms of migrants marching northwards and across land borders in the Middle East in their quest to get to Europe.

There were people who predicted what Europe is now experiencing. In his best-selling novel The Camp of the Saints, first published in French in 1973 and then later in English, Jean Raspail depicted a future where mass migration to Western Europe, including Raspail's home country of France, leads to a destruction of Western civilization. Raspail's inspiration for his book came while visiting the French Riviera in 1971, writing:-

"What if they were to come? I did not know who 'they' were, but it seemed inevitable to me that the numberless disinherited people of the South would, like a tidal wave, set sail one day for this opulent shore, our fortunate country’s wide-gaping frontier".

The Italians are leading calls for the introduction of quotas so that migrants can be distributed more fairly across the 28 member states of the EU, however these calls have been met with stiff opposition, and particularly so from those Central and Eastern European countries who claim they lack the resources to accommodate large numbers of migrants. Most vociferous in their opposition to quotas have been the Hungarians and who say that migrant quotas will only repeat Western Europe's failed attempts at multiculturalism. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been at the forefront of his country's rejection of quotas, while the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have also shown strong opposition to EU plans to distribute migrants.

The distribution of migrants across the European Union under a system of quotas could be the thing that forces more countries to follow Britain's example and leave the organization, especially as the numbers of migrants arriving in Europe continues to rise. A future where the whole of Europe will be 'multiculturalized' is certainly not a fait accompli, and some countries might choose to follow Britain's example and leave the EU if staying a member means having to embrace multiculturalism.

Copyright © Christopher Goff
Tag: Migration
Uploaded: 12 July, 2017.