Global Survey on the Migration Crisis – The European Project on the Brink of Collapse?

Photo: Virginia Mayo / AP
Photo: Virginia Mayo / AP

The migration crisis is not ending and is in fact increasing the divide between EU Member States, overstretching the fondations of the EU (Schengen agreement), and underlining the lack of solidarity among European actors. If Germany was the model, or at least the moral authority of Europe, in terms of receiving asylum seekers (expected to be over 800,000 this year), Chancellor Merkel and her Minister of Interior, Thomas de Maizière, have announced over the weekend that Germany will be reinstating border control between Germany and Austria. Such move goes against the principles of the Schengen agreement and illustrates a needed response by Chancellor Merkel to domestic pressures. Interestingly enough, the implementation of border control comes a day prior the EU ministers meeting seeking to find a common solution to the current migration crisis.

After a month of data collection, the survey created and monitored by Politipond on the question of the migration crisis has finally closed (here is the link to the survey). The questionnaire was designed in a way that would permit to identify and analyze several variables: actorness of the EU; role and influence of the Member States; influence of domestic politics; European push towards greater integration; and European identities.

Sample and Questionnaire

The survey was composed of 10 mandatory questions with multiple-choice answers. The questionnaire was designed in order to analyze how global participants feel about the crisis, understand the crisis, and perceive the way EU Member States and institutions try to deal with the issue. The survey counts 38 participants from all around the world. None of the participants were solicited and most of them found out of the survey by either receiving the Politipond‘s newsletter or through social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin).

Source: Politipond. 2015
Source: Politipond. 2015

After a month of data collection, the largest participating countries were Portugal, the United States, France and Germany. These countries are an interesting sample as they incorporate the US, the quiet superpower, the Franco-German engine, and Portugal a member of Southern Europe. The US is an interesting actor as it has been very absent actor on the crisis, even though President Obama has recently announced some participation in welcoming refugees. Nevertheless, American media (The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, NPR, the Miami Herald, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times) have been covering the issue in depth for months and the American public opinion is deeply divided on the question. The issue of migration and immigration have been an important dimension in the current presidential campaign for 2016.

In the case of France and Germany, both countries are important historical partners that usually shape the direction of the Union. If Germany has proven to be the most welcoming EU Member State, with Sweden, France has been a much more cautious and observing actor. In recent days, France has expressed its support to Germany. Last but not least, Portugal is part of the infamous PIGS group (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) or Southern Europe. Portugal has, like his southern partners, faced serious socio-economic degradation since the collapse of the world markets. Portugal at the difference of Greece, Italy and Spain, is not a recipient of migrants due to its geographical position. However, the debate in Portugal has been focusing on the migration crisis.

Variables – Power, Institutions, and Identity

Credit: Politipond. 2015
Credit: Politipond. 2015

Each variables can be measured by countries and see if participants have diverging position based on their country of allegiance (see graph below). These variables sought to identify several aspects: institutional design and power; identity; and actors’ behaviors and actions. Question 1 and 3 received an overwhelming yes vote with 90% in favor of a common European asylum policy (which needs to be reformed as the current Dublin regulations are showing signs of weaknesses) and that solidarity is required in order to address such pressing issue. However on the question of mandatory national quotas promoted by the Commission, one third of the participants are opposed to such policy move by the supranational European body.

Question 5 and 6, looking at nationalist policies, received a high degree of no vote with an average of 85%. Participants seem to find counterproductive for Britain to put the blame on France for his lenient approach to addressing the number of refugees in camps in Northern of France. In addition, participants overwhelmingly expressed their opposition (90%) towards nationalist policies of closing borders and forcing migrants out.

7Countries
Source: Politipond. 2015

This graph above is identical to the previous one, but is looking in the way the four countries, with the highest degree of participants, responded to the same questions. On question 1 and 3, all four countries responded similarly. On question 2, Germany appears to be the least favorable towards national quotas promoted by the Commission. Question 6 on blaming French for not doing enough in Calais, both the US and Germany believe that France has been lenient and has not done enough in addressing the number of migrants in the camps. 12% of Portuguese participants claim that nationalist policies of closing the borders and forcing migrants out is an appropriate solution in addressing the migration crisis. On the last question of cooperation at the European level, French participants (32%) tend to believe that European leaders are working towards a common European solution.

Who is Responsible for the Crisis?

Source: Politipond. 2015
Source: Politipond. 2015

Not surprisingly, most participants blamed the Member States (29%), minus Italy and Greece (a total of 0%), for failing to address the crisis. The most interesting dimension is that failed countries, like Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, are seen as a large part of the blame with 26%. The EU is regarded to have failed in dealing with the crisis (with 13%). However, it is unclear what exactly the EU means as the Commission and the Parliament are not considered as responsible, which leaves the Council of Ministers and the European Council. Ultimately, the EU is usually considered as a black box without clear materialization of who does what. The traditional blame of the EU for failing to address a crisis is reflected in this study. But the graph demonstrates that participants tend to mis-understand the EU and what it is.

Call for Foreign Military Interventions?

4.Intervention
Source: Politipond. 2015

A missing aspect of the talk on solving the migration crisis has been foreign interventions. Most of debate consists in addressing the flows of migrants inside the European territory and the failed European asylum policies. However, one core dimension in solving, at least in the long term, the migration crisis will be to address the root causes in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Eritrea, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and so forth by stabilizing these territories, rebuilding the states and their authorities, lowering corruption and cronyism, and dealing with neighboring countries (read here an analysis on failed states published by EU Center at the University of Miami).

These conditions are central in order to permit future migrants to live productive lives in their home countries. The big question is how much the Euro-Atlantic community can be efficient in such missions in so many countries and are their public opinion in favor of such ‘sacrifice’? According to the results of the survey, 62% of participants consider that either military (27%) or civilian (35%) CSDP missions would permit to address some of the root causes. And with 14% of the votes, participants feel that national missions, like the ones deployed by the French army in Mali and Sahel regions, could be effective operations of stabilization and peace-building.

Interestingly, 76% of the participants are in favor of foreign interventions, either military or civilian, as opposed to 24% against any type of foreign interventions. Regardless of the small sample of the participants, 3/4 of them favor foreign interventions. The French government has expressed its position in favor of the use of force in Syria through air bombing. It seems that the French public opinion is in favor of such military road.

From a Fortress to a Borderless Union

5.Image
Source: Politipond. 2015

Images have been an important variables in shaping public opinion and creating an emotional reactions to the migration crisis (read a previous analysis on the topic here). Based on the results, the leading image in identifying the EU in dealing with the crisis is

Cartoon: Plantu
Cartoon: Plantu

‘Fortress Europe’ (with 43%) followed by ‘borderless Europe’ (34%). The identification of the EU as either a soft power or civilian power falls well behind and demonstrates the irrelevance of such terms. If Fortress Europe implies huge wall protecting the European territory, borderless Europe is its absolute antonym. The words borderless and fortress are fascinating as, despite their fundamental opposition, European citizens are using both concept interchangeably.

Normative Europe appears to be a construction by the EU to justify its moral behavior implying a certain degree of inaction and risk-averse foreign policies. If the concepts of ‘soft power’ and ‘civilian power’ are heavily used by European diplomats and experts, they are only part of the European dialect. In a recent work, that I participated on, on perceptions of the EU in the US (expected to be published in the Fall or early spring), it was demonstrated than ‘normative Europe’ barely exist outside Europe.

Leaders and Policy-Makers – Who Matters?

Source: Politipond. 2015
Source: Politipond. 2015

With an overwhelming majority (61%), participants argue that no European leader is in measure of making a difference in dealing with the current crisis.  Chancellor Merkel of Germany (11%) and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the Commission (8%), are the leading candidates in being the ones with the greater influence in the shaping of policy-making. Both players share a common vision of quotas and redistribution across the Union as well as opening the countries to the refugees. The interesting aspect is British Prime Minister Cameron (5%) coming into fourth position, with the Italian Prime Minister (5%). If the Italian PM is facing a serious crisis with the large influx of migrants crossing the country (it is estimated that 1/4 of them will eventually stay in Italy), British PM is trying to keep them outside of the island.

François Hollande of France and his European counterpart, HR Mogherini, are not perceived as being influential players. In the case of the French President, the number could be different a month later, however, the situation in Calais with the refugee camps is not playing in favor of the French President. HR Mogherini has not been as visible to the general public, but has been playing an important role in the deployment of the CSDP mission of EUNAVFOR Med off the coasts of Italy and Greece. She has been active on dealing with the foreign dimensions of the crisis. This aspect of the crisis has not been properly covered by the media, and most citizens are not concerned about such dimension.

The End of the European Dream?

The reinstatement of border control by Germany on the segment shared with Austria has led to a snowball effect with now Slovakia, the Netherlands and Austria announcing similar measures. Such political decision made by Berlin and now other EU Member States is a direct attack on a core principle of the EU, the Schengen agreement, which guarantees the free movement of people across the Union. Even though the Treaties offer the possibility for EU Member States to lift the open borders in case of emergency or national security, it is always a controversial move. In the case of the migration crisis, a lifting a the Schengen agreement, demonstrates the obvious:

  • inability to protect European borders and the neighborhoods,
  • inability to enforce the Dublin Regulations, which demonstrates the weakness of the integration process;
  • lack of solidarity among the 28 EU Member States,

The migration crisis underlined all the weaknesses, which have been denounced by experts for decades, of the EU all at once. It shows that the EU and its Member States have lived in this perpetual belief of post-sovereignty world and denial of the world shaped by hard power. In some ways, it seems that EU Member States and the EU have incorporated all the components described and advanced by Francis Fukuyama in his 1998 book of The End of History. Today, the refugees, seeking for a better world and a chance to raise their kids in a stable and secure environment, have brought the EU to the brink of failure, tear down the concept of European solidarity (if it ever existed), and brought the worst of European societies with the continuous rise of nationalism and xenophobia.

To the defense of the EU, it has one element in its favor, ability to adjust and reform in the worst of the storm. After over 60 years of existence, the EU has gone through several deep divides, like the period of the empty chair, the end of the Cold War, the divide over the Iraq crisis, the rejection of the Constitutional Treaty, the Euro crisis, and now the migration crisis. In each crisis, the Member States have been able to adjust and advance. But will this time be an other example of Europe’s ability to adapt? or, will it break? The results of the survey conducted over the month of August validate these comments and show that European citizens are highly dubious about the future direction of the Union and ability of their leaders to address the root causes of the crisis, while maintaining European cohesion. The migration crisis is overwhelming and stretching the European unity and structures to a level never experienced before.

(Copyright 2015 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission).
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European Initiatives against Drug Trafficking

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/
http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/

In March 2014, the European Union (EU) announced at the fourth Caribbean Basin Coastal Surveillance and Maritime Security Summit that the Union will boost up its contributions to the fight against drug trafficking and international criminal networks in the Caribbean region. The European financial contribution is estimated at Euro 2.5 million.

As announced by the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean:

The funding, which is being provided through the EU Seaport Co-operation Project (SEACOP) will assist with the establishment of joint national maritime intelligence units, a regional maritime information system, as well as regional and trans-regional networking and technical assistance.
The development of such infrastructure should lead to increased targeting of suspected vessels, a unified maritime intelligence system, increased drug seizures and enhanced multi-agency co-operation.
 

The question of drug trafficking is vital to European security as Europeans consume a quarter of total world production of cocaine behind the US. Additionally, cocaine is the second most popular illicit drug after marijuana in Europe. Aside from the use of cocaine, drug trafficking is a serious cause of instabilities in many countries affecting their economic growth, societal stability and peace, and weakening of state institutions. In transit countries, like the ones located in Africa, it has been fueling civil wars, financing local militias and terrorists networks and affecting state-building initiatives.

Cocaine Route Programme

In 2004, the European Council approved the EU drugs strategy 2005-2012. It was then in 2009 that the EU launched an initiative, the Cocaine Route Programme (CRP), managed by the European Commission and DG Development Cooperation in order to combat organized crime and drug trafficking from Latin America through the Caribbean and Central America and West Africa to the European market. The Programme includes countries from Europe, Latin America, Caribbean and West Africa. The EU has committed over 35 million Euros since 2009. “Cocaine Route Programme was the first of its kind” wrote the Jamaica Observer, “to think strategically about the flow of drug trafficking and to provide support, technical advice, capacity building and encourage coordination between states situated along the entire route.” The Europeans estimate that over 140 tonnes of cocaine is trafficked on yearly basis into Europe at an estimated benefit of $1 billion. The European initiative launched in 2004 seeks in deepening cooperation with countries in the Caribbean and West Africa.

Monitoring and limiting the trafficking of drugs from Latin America is of direct interests for Europeans, as Western and Central Europe are the second largest consumers of cocaine after the Americas. In a matter of 10 years, the market for cocaine in the Northern Hemisphere has considerably changed. In the 1998, the main consumer of cocaine was the US, while in 2008 the consumption of cocaine has become almost even in between Europe and the US (see chart below). The new market – Europe – for cocaine has led to a shift in the routes to access the European market. The routes going through the Caribbean and Africa demonstrate that organized crime networks are following a clear map of failed states in order to transport their product to Europe.

Source: UNODC. World Drug Report 2010 (p. 233)
Source: UNODC. World Drug Report 2010 (p. 233)

The issue of drug trafficking is greater than simple drug production, trafficking and addiction. Research have clearly demonstrated that countries with high level of drug production (Colombia in the case of cocaine, or even Afghanistan with heroin production) are facing serious domestic challenges such as high violence, political instabilities, ramping corruption, organized crime and money laundering permitting the flourishing of criminal organized networks.

Source: BBC News. 2009
Source: BBC News. 2009

European Drug Consumptions

Aside from ethical and normative disagreements, the issue of drug trafficking is a simple question of market relations between producers and consumers. In recent years, drug trafficking, which is a directly related to transnational organized crime, is considered as one of the biggest challenge to the EU.

In the case of cocaine, the base product can be sold under two forms: an expensive version, powder cocaine (mainly consumed in European countries); or a cheaper option, cocaine-based products such as ‘crack’ (mostly consumed in the US and the UK). Cocaine has become a very ‘trendy’ product in Western European countries since the 1980s and especially since the turn of the millennium. The three largest global cocaine producers are Colombia, Peru and Bolivia (see chart below):

Source: UNODC. World Report 2010 (p. 66)
Source: UNODC. World Report 2010 (p. 66)

The routes from the Americas to the European market are either maritime or by air. Most of the seizure of cocaine is taking place in Western and Southern EU Member States such as France, Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. However, routes are now being shifted to Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Baltic countries. As illustrated in the chart

Source: EMCDDA. European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments (p. 23)
Source: EMCDDA. European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments (p. 23)

below, the number of seizure have augmented since 2002. More and more, the cocaine routes to European market go through the Balkans considering their weak governmental structures, high level corruption, weak institutions, and organized crime networks.

According to the yearly report, European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments, produced by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), an estimated 80 million of Europeans (1/4 of total Europeans) have used illicit drugs at some point in their lives. The largest number is cannabis (73 million) followed by cocaine at the second spot with 14 million. Despite a fall in recent years, cocaine remains the principal illicit stimulant drug in Europe. The chart below illustrates the illicit drug use in the EU:

Source: EMCDDA. European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments (p. 13)
Source: EMCDDA. European Drug Report 2014: Trends and developments (p. 13)

The question of drug trafficking is directly intertwined with European security and stability. The reports produced by the UNODC and EMCDDA clearly demonstrates the threats of illicit drugs to public health. For instance, the injection of drugs, which is a little less the case for cocaine, remains the principal cause of transmission of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C. Aside from domestic public health problems, illicit drugs are the cause of flourishing of organized crime networks inside the EU and in neighboring countries.

It is in the interest of the Union to fund and facilitate initiatives fighting drug trafficking and organized crime in the Caribbean region. If a first round of protection and seizure is already taking place in the Caribbean region, it will already facilitate seizure in Europe. At the end of the day, seizure is only one instrument in fighting drug trafficking. European initiatives promoting development, human rights, institutional solidification – judiciary, police and legislative – in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are more of long-term solutions, but with a higher financial cost.

In Europe, the question of illicit drugs is as well facing the complex nature of multi-level governance. At the EU level, initiatives and framework for cooperation are designed, while the main drug legislations remains in the hands of national governments. Nevertheless, European governments tend to have moved away from prison sentences for personal use of illicit drugs (which is not the case in the US), while, drug supply remains a criminal offense. The question of drug trafficking is one part of the broader problem of organized crime networks. Only through regional and global cooperation can EU Member States tackle such threat to European stability.

(Copyright 2014 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission).