The European Commission is proposing that EU member states take a combined total of 20,000 refugees in the next two years. Frans Timmermans (Commission Vice President) announced that the plan is to allocate an extra $56 million to the resettlement programme. The system will aim to distribute the refugees fairly across the Member States, by taking into account population size, strength of the economy, unemployment figures etc. It will be a “mandatory and automatically-triggered relocation system” whenever a particular country is overrun with an influx of migrants. The UK’s prudence in the past means that we have the option to opt out of the initiative. But the question is, should we?
Well, I’d argue that we should opt out, but take the refugees nonetheless. It is, I think, beyond debate that we have a humanitarian obligation to shelter those fleeing persecution and death. To send these people back to their deaths would be nothing short of monstrous moral regress. We should have moved past the time where we see people as a skin colour or a culture. One who judges people on these criteria should be worthy of our contempt. Rhetoric from people like Katie Hopkins, who would dehumanize people and label them as “cockroaches” should be seen as a very dangerous obstacle to progress. We are all human after all, we are all the same. We should help people in their desperation. This is why I disapprove of Theresa May’s assertion that we should send the refugees back. Yet I agree that we should opt out of the EU’s new initiative – and I shall tell you why.
We in the UK, along with Ireland and Denmark are the lucky ones. We have the option to opt out as we didn’t sign the necessary treaties. However, the rest of the 28 Member States do not have this luxury and will be obligated, whether they want to or not, to take in a minimum amount of refugees. This is an absolute disgrace. To impose laws and force a sovereign nation to do something against it’s will is completely unacceptable. Particularly if these demands come from a non-elected, undemocratic organization that merely appoints it’s leaders without a mandate from the people. Yet this is what is happening.
Year on year, the EU seeks to further integrate the Member States, expand it’s monopoly on power and further move towards a federalization of Europe. I’m not saying this is a conscious effort on the part of the Commission, but this is what is happening. The creeping effect over the last 50 years or so has seen the Member States fall ever more to the mercy of Brussels. This is not what the founders of the EU envisioned (at least I hope not). Initially, the EU (or the EEC as it was called back then) was set up in order to create economic interdependence between countries in order to avoid future conflicts. The UK joined in order to have access to this market. It was purely a financial thing. Yet now we see the EU acting as a Government, passing bills and legislation, imposing themselves on a nation’s sovereignty and forcing them to behave in a way that has nothing to do with financial matters. That is not what we signed up for. As such, we should be not be encouraging them by opting into initiatives such a this one. In matters of social justice, we can decide for ourselves thankyou very much. The EU should have no authority in these matters and it worries me that people believe Brussels is justified in this regard.
Furthermore, the fact that people are worried about levels of immigration into the UK is of the EU’s doing. It is not of any closet racism that people are worried about immigration, but rather, they’re worried about numbers. Net migration last year was at an all time high, 300,000. This is an unprecedented amount of people coming into the UK. More than half of these people (162,000) were from the EU as we are obliged to take in all economic migrants from Member States. We have no right to turn any of these people away despite the fact that they are generally economic migrants rather than refugees fleeing for their lives. As a result, this gives us less wiggle room to accommodate the 30,000 or Asylum Seekers. If we weren’t obliged to take in all of these people from the EU then we could take in far more people who genuinely need to be here. So, clearly the EU is actually preventing us from taking in more refugees due their tyrannical, discriminatory rules and regulations forcing us to prioritize European people over everyone else. This, to me, is unfair and morally dubious.
As such, it’s about time a coordinated effort was made by the Member States to stand up to Brussels. We can start by opting out of this refugee initiative. Nevertheless, we have a duty to help those in need and as such, we should take in and protect those who require protection. The EU is not helping in this regard, but is in fact making it more difficult.
By Olly Tozer