Two years have passed already since the European Union signed the infamous “deal” with Turkey that was supposed to stop the influx of refugees coming from the Middle East towards Europe. Since then, not only the EU has bankrolled an ever more authoritarian Erdogan, but also it has not achieved to stop the influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in search of refuge in the European continent. And now, in the summer of 2018, in the eve of what seems another summer with huge numbers of migrants crossing into Europe, state and EU leaders appear to be worried once again and desperately try to find a solution to “put an end” to the migration crisis. Furthermore, and perhaps, even more worrying than in 2016, this year not only we are witnessing rumours of “admission camps outside of the EU”, but also the EU establishment seems to do nothing in front of European leaders carrying out openly xenophobic and inhumane policies. At EFAy we think that the time has come for the EU to adopt a common policy on migration and refugees, with human rights at its core, and which treats these migrants not as “illegal aliens”, but rather as fellow human beings, fleeing from poverty, oppression or war.

Europe desperately needs more empathy towards these people, and certainly we must assume our partial blame on the causes that make refugees flee their countries of origin. Be it the war in Syria, poverty in sub-Saharan Africa or dictatorship in Eritrea, we must understand that the hardships that refugees endured not only on their home countries, but also on their dangerous trek, are partially caused by decades of direct and indirect interference of European states over developing countries. Refugees must be given a safe passage to Europe, and a chance to re-start their lives on European soil, and not treated as criminals. We cannot stand still while the Mediterranean Sea becomes an immense graveyard, while people who simply wanted to get a better future for their children die in the middle of the sea.

Another issue that worries us profoundly is the previously unseen levels of xenophobia by EU member states governments, most notably by Italy and Hungary. These governments are now proposing policies targeting ethnic groups, be it Arabs, Muslims, or Roma people, while Brussels pretends that such barbaric acts are not happening on EU territory. As the organization that represents the youth of European stateless nations, we are very worried; not only by such acts, but also by the appeasement approach that Brussels seems to have taken towards these recent moves. We are the younger generations of various peoples who suffered the European dictatorships, who pursued policies of ethnic homogenisation on the same countries that currently are seeing a rise on xenophobia.

A common migration policy is needed urgently, a policy that approaches the issue as a humanitarian crisis, not as a “trade of goods” between member states. We need an empathic approach that understands the motivations of those fleeing, and tries not only to provide help on their countries of origin, but also embracing those already here. Finally, we hope that the EU takes a stand over the rise of xenophobia and racist policies carried out by several EU member states. Europe must remember that its values are universal, and that every human being, no matter his/her race, religion or citizenship, has the right to be treated with dignity.

Adrian Fuentes Arévalo / EFAy Vice-president for External Relations