Eighteen years ago, I wrote an editorial saying that there was a need for a coherent agreed European Union policy on migration.
That policy, I argued, should be based on a strategic vision of the kind of immigrants that Europe needs, but also – in line with international law and treaties on refugees – set out a policy on a pan-EU response to a wave of irregular migration.
In the years that followed (as had happened in the years before) there were desultory talks on migration policy and on problems in coping with arrivals of refugees, the latter a pressing issue for Malta, Greece and Italy, who sought to drive the talks forward with scant success.
Fast forward to 2013/14 and the Syria crisis that propelled huge numbers of refugees towards western Europe, and the absence of a uniform policy was, to put it gently, keenly felt. Unfortunately, to date no coherent policy exists, and worse, the discrepancies in approaches among EU countries have become starker.
I write this not to say that looking back at that editorial of 2002 “I told you so” but I have been reminded of it by the situation in the EU in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.
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