A man holding a baby next to the sea.
  Two million migrants are estimated to be in Turkey, many trying to reach the European Union from its shores. Photo: AFP

Europe’s externalisation of migration controls

A harmful deal could be reached between the EU and Turkey
14 October, 2015

It is quite extraordinary to see that European authorities are still doggedly pursuing an agenda of externalisation of migration controls, that is, trying to push neighbouring countries to do the “dirty job” of detecting, detaining and deporting irregular migrants before they reach European external borders and thus become a “European problem”.

This objective has, with a few exceptions (such as Morocco), repeatedly failed to materialise in the past 20 years, in good part for lack of incentives in favour of such transit countries, but also because it has been proven that irregular migration is not deterred by harsh treatment in transit or destination countries. At most, it is sometimes slowed or rerouted.

As long as Europe doesn’t do its part in terms of resettling numerous refugees who are presently stuck in transit countries, there’s very little reason why such transit countries should bear the brunt of migration containment for the sole benefit of Europe, considering the human rights violations and consequent bad press that it entails.

Yes, a deal with Turkey, the latter agreeing to stop irregular migration in exchange of her citizens being offered visa-free travel to Europe (certainly a good deal for Turkish citizens, although done on the back of irregular migrants), is possible. But again, at what cost? Turkey would have to create a migration control problem for itself, detaining migrants massively, spending billions in forcible returns, spending quite uselessly billions of Euros it needs to spend on education, healthcare and infrastructure, incurring the wrath of human rights institutions and civil society.

Trying to develop mobility solutions for everyone would be a much more productive use of taxpayers’ money.

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