Firstly, we are shocked by the use of language employed by some media and by politician. We support the Refugee Council’s condemnation of the use of the word ‘swarm’ by British Prime Minister David Cameron to describe those migrating from the Mediterranean in this most recent phase of migration. Furthermore, we forcibly condemn any use of dehumanising language by European media outlets on this matter. Our media needs to recognise the power it has over public opinion, and to wield that power responsibly.
Secondly, we are strongly convinced that the national proposals deal with the situation in an absolutely unsatisfying manner. We need to move away from policy proposals of building a wall in Hungary; sinking boats in the Mediterranean, or militarily invading Calais and recognise that these latest inflows of people to the European Union constitute not a military threat but a humanitarian crisis.
We further request all European governments to remember that they have legal duties and moral obligations to help refugees and asylum seekers. When and where people choose to migrate to escape conflict, persecution, or other breaches of their human rights, the member states of the EU should more quickly and more professionally facilitate their entry to ensure that migrants can have more stable living conditions. We therefore strongly support the thinking behind the proposal put forward for burden sharing across the EU so that all Europeans do their part to protect the weakest among us. However we would like this burden sharing to be a truly supranational endeavour, and one that covers all, rather than some, of those affected. Nonetheless, we note with concern the national attitudes member states have shown during the latest European Council meeting. The quota should be implemented with the humanitarian interest first, carried by the European values for which the EU has received its Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.
The southern European states should not have to exclusively pay the price of managing a border to the European Union. Chokepoints such as Calais should not have appeared in the first place. We need to work together to ensure nobody in our Union has to suffer the indignity of living in slum-like conditions and build a real European immigration policy with this purpose.
The Channel tunnel is not only an economically valuable conduit between two of our continent’s largest nation-states, it is an important symbol of unity between former rivals and of the freedom to move. We are bearing witness at the Channel crossing to an aberration of all that the Tunnel represents. This must stop, Europe must and can do better.