It has been five years since the EU migrant crisis began. Despite the EU declaring the crisis over in 2019, a recent fire at a Greek migrant camp has brought the issue back into focus. While the headlines have been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, people have continued to risk their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean (albeit in greatly reduced numbers compared to 2015). There remains no legal asylum route into Europe, the EU has scaled back its sea rescue operations, and talks on how refugees should be ‘distributed’ by European countries have so far failed to reach agreement.
What do our readers think? To coincide with the launch of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, we spoke to 100 young Germans in a series of focus groups about their hopes and fears for Europe. A majority of the young people we spoke to spontaneously named the EU’s approach to migration, asylum, and refugees as one their most pressing concerns. Many questioned what values the EU stands for, given that migrants continue to die in the Mediterranean. Several of the young people said, during our focus groups, that they view sea rescue operations as a moral obligation and urgently demand solutions from politicians.
To get a response, we spoke to the EU Commissioner responsible, Ylva Johansson, about the extent to which the EU is fulfilling its obligations towards refugees and what policy is planned for the future.
Was the migrant crisis a betrayal of EU values? Five years since the crisis began, how should we judge Europe’s record on migration and asylum? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!