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Why the European tension (again) rises above migrants

Migrants arriving on Europe's shores are fueling political tension three years after a flood of refugees threatened to flood the European Union. Although the number of arrivals across the Mediterranean is only a fraction of what it was in 2015, EU leaders are urgently reforming the Union's asylum system. A challenge that German Chancellor Angela Merkel calls a litmus test for the future of European unity.

. 1 What triggered the current crisis?

Political parties against immigration across the Union have gained popularity and encourage change. The new populist Italian government came to power, arguing that Italians were unfairly burdened with the brunt of the influx ̵

1; and their EU neighbors should bear a greater share of the burden. The Italian immigrant enemy Matteo Salvini refused to allow two lifeboats to bring migrants and refugees to Sicily. Spain and Malta came in for protection. Most migrants from Africa land in Italy and arrive via trafficking networks in crowded ships from a lawless Libya. Italy estimates that it spent 4.3 billion euros (5 billion US dollars) on migrants in 2017, while receiving only 77 million euros for EU assistance.

. 2 How are migrants treated now?

The EU asylum rules enshrined in the so-called Dublin Regulation assign responsibility for processing asylum applications – a lengthy and costly process – to the first nation into which a migrant enters. This burdened Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain. The rule is widely disregarded, and once they enter the EU, many migrants are forced through Europe's Passportless Travel Zone to richer countries, especially Germany and Sweden. Not all migrants are considered refugees: those fleeing war or persecution are protected under the UN Refugee Convention of 1951 and can not be turned away. So-called economic migrants move because of poverty or the search for better opportunities and can be sent home. Almost all arrivals in Europe claim refugee status and apply for asylum. In 2017, 54 percent of asylum applications were rejected

3. What do the EU leaders think?

You have been arrested for two years for a plan to revise the asylum legislation. Countries such as Hungary have refused to accept their share, while southern countries have spoken out against separate provisions aimed at tightening up the obligations for handling first authorizations. At a European Council summit of 28-29. In June, Brussels, Italy pushed the issue to the fore by vetoing any resolution that did not address specific solutions to the migration crisis and possibly blocked decisions in other areas such as trade and defense. 19659008] 4. Did the trick work?

The EU leaders have bowed to Italy's demands to strengthen the block's position. The draft contains plans for "regional disembarkation platforms" in North Africa to exclude those who are not eligible for asylum before arriving on European coasts. In order to treat legitimate asylum seekers, the agreement aims to balance the burden between EU countries, a proposal that would revise the Dublin system. However, much remains unclear about the business, not least of whether it has a greater chance of being implemented than previous attempts at burden sharing. The promise of new EU money to fight illegal migration could help lubricate the wheels.

. 5 Why is this a topic in Germany?

Merkel is in her governing coalition against a rebellion by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who leads the Bavarian sister party of their Christian Democratic Union. He gave the Chancellor an ultimatum to reach an EU agreement at the summit that would bring migrants back to the countries where they first registered. If she does not deliver, Seehofer threatened to dismiss migrants on the German border. While it is unclear whether he would use his ministerial power to risk dismissal and trigger German instability, Merkel agreed to a pan-European agreement on migration. It is too early to say whether the agreement in Brussels will be sufficient to repel Merkel.

. 6 Is there a refugee wave in Europe?

No. But on the contrary. In 2015, there was an increase when more than 1 million migrants arrived in Europe after Russian bombs escalated the Syrian civil war. Most landed on beaches in Greece and moved north through the Balkans to get to Germany. Following an agreement reached in March 2016 with Turkey, which had agreed to accept the return of people who had entered Greece illegally in exchange for 6 billion euros in aid, most of the electricity was stopped. The number of arrivals in 2016 dropped to about one-third of 2015 levels and to about 172,000 last year. Nevertheless, the majority of migrants landings have been in Italy for the past three years.

. 7 So why the worry?

The columns of migrants in 2015-2016 have aroused the fears of the locals, opened the division between the EU states and triggered a populist backlash against the established parties. Germany, Sweden and other countries temporarily introduced border controls, while Hungary, Slovenia and Macedonia built fences along parts of their borders. Nationalist politicians have been worried that the refugees, many of whom are Muslim, may bring with them crimes and terror. On June 18, President Donald Trump falsely claimed via Twitter that the crime in Germany had increased as a result of migration; Statistics show that violent crimes in Germany fell by 2.4 percent last year. An unresolved concern is how to deal with the over 300,000 people who have arrived in Italy since the beginning of 2016. While they are mainly economic migrants with few asylum options, the rest of Europe has no interest in helping them. Italy can not identify them partly because the countries of origin do not want to take them back.

• The UNHCR website on migrants in the Mediterranean

• Eurostat data on asylum seekers

• QuickTake discussions on asylum and the history of the refugee crisis in Europe.

• A QuickTake on the East-West Rift in Europe.

• A Bloomberg editorial on how Europe should share the burden of the refugee crisis, and articles by Leonid Bershidsky on Italy and Germany.

• New York Times Explains the difference between migrants and refugees

– With support from Jonathan Stearns, Nikos Chrysoloras, Victoria Dendrinou, Gregory Viscusi and Grant Clark.

Contact the reporter about this story: Alessandro Giovanni Borghese in New York at [email protected]

Contact the responsible editors for this story: Leah Harrison Singer at [email protected], John O & # 39; Neil, Alan Crawford

© 2018 Bloomberg LP

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