Germany and France are trying to get tougher on migration to the European Union, as thousands of refugees attempt to enter the Schengen zone. This comes after a thwarted attack on a high-speed train, and the two countries are renewing calls for more migration policies at a European Union Level.
French president Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are spearheading several demands of migration reform at an EU-wide level, particularly to harmonise nation laws. Germany in particular is seeking for countries to adopt mandatory quotas for refugees, a mostly unpopular plan that was rejected earlier in the year. Germany in particular is keen to see this plan put into action as it has taken in by far the highest number of immigrants this year, estimated to be upwards of 800,000.
This comes as a number of countries are dealing with high numbers of immigrants. France and Germany have told Italy to speed up processing of migrant arrivals, as it needs to sort out who is truly in need of assistance and who is an “economic migrant” – someone whose life who not be in danger should they be returned to their home country. Hungary has begun to build a border fence with Serbia, and austerity-hit Greece has been seeing huge influxes.
France is also keen to create common security regulations and protocols following an attempted attack on an Amsterdam-Paris high speed train last week. There are fears that more such attacks could be likely without a common security initiative.
Divisions on migration
Meanwhile, Germany has stated that national borders may have to be reinstated if the crisis remains without remedy. Currently, EU member states within the Schengen area have removed border controls – so there aren’t any checks if you’re travelling from France to Germany, for example. But the German government may reintroduce these checks if it feels other countries are not sharing their responsibility for the safety of migrants.
The European commission, responsible for implementing laws and treaties established by the European Union, quickly rebuffed the idea, reinforcing the notion that freedom of movement is a cornerstone of the European Union. However, they added that simple identity checks were allowed in problematic areas.
A growing problem is the divisions between countries that are receiving high levels of immigrants versus those who are seeing very little. The patchwork of laws and regulations, as well as geographic distribution, means that tensions across the European Union are high. Countries on the outer regions of the European Union, like Greece, Italy and Hungary, complain that hundreds of thousands are migrants are attempting to reach their countries – and that they need more support.
On the other hand, Sweden, Germany and other countries seem to be the ultimate destination for many of these immigrants. These countries claim that other members are not doing enough to take their share of the influx.
Clearly, the immigration policies of various countries are ineffective when the Schengen area mandates no border controls, but the freedom of movement of millions of legal citizens has clear social and economic benefits. An EU-wide immigration policy, might seem out of reach given the extreme divide in opinions, but ultimately it might be the only way to help alleviate the current migration crisis.