In the Press

A WAR ON IMMIGRATION IN EUROPE?

To paraphrase a famous text, a spectre haunts Europe: that of phobia to immigration, encouraged from multiple centres of persuasion and power. The far right in Europe has not achieved major electoral victories, at least as a first party, in virtually any member state, but it has managed to establish a negative narrative against immigration in public opinion, which has permeated the views of many governments.

However, the widespread anti-immigration discourse, and the policies that implement it, reveal a schizophrenic Europe. This rejection of those fleeing war, misery and the systematic violations of their human rights, as well as being unfaithful to its values of equality, freedom and fraternity, and violating the Geneva Convention, which in 2021 will be seventy years old, is inconsistent with the reality of a continent in serious demographic decline, and whose rural areas, especially valued by EU policies since the origin of integration, is rapidly depopulating. Let no one be under any illusions: the salvation of an empty Europe does not lie in installing all kinds of infrastructures in the countryside, however necessary this may be, but in an active repopulation policy that must take immigration as its central vector.

But Europe is also weakened politically because its adversaries know that nothing makes the European Council more nervous than a few thousand immigrants trying to cross an external EU border. And they act accordingly, as Lukashenko has done at the border with Poland, shamelessly instrumentalising human beings, some of whom have met their deaths from hunger or cold, including a one-year-old child, also because of the cruel, inhumane, and illegal policy undertaken by the Warsaw authorities, "shielding" the border, denying asylum requests, carrying illegal refoulements, and denying access to humanitarian aid organisations and journalists.

In the face of this situation, the European Council President Charles Michel was quick to travel to the Polish capital on 10 November 2021, not to call the government to account and demand that it comply with its European and international legal obligations, but to offer his unconditional "solidarity" with the scorched earth policy of Morawiecki's ultra-right-wing government. Michel took up the alarmist and militaristic rhetoric, calling the actions of the Belarusian authorities a "brutal, hybrid, violent and undignified attack" and undermining in the process European legislation that prohibits expulsions and establishes clear and guaranteed border procedures for foreigners seeking to enter European territory. We have thus moved from a situation where Poland, a state subject to Article 7, was under intense scrutiny and pressure for the constant and intentional erosion of the rule of law and fundamental values, to a climate of political support where issues fundamental to the Union are relegated to the background, such as the supremacy of EU law, which the Polish government rejects.

To this must be added the use and abuse of terms such as 'hybrid threat', 'hybrid war', 'hybrid attack' and other warmongering language, which contrasts with a vision of the European Union as an instrument of peace and founded on human rights and which does not correspond to reality, because although migrants have been instrumentalised for destabilising purposes, their irregular entry into Poland does not in itself pose a threat to territorial integrity, political independence or security.

According to specialised literature, hybrid warfare, as the adjective itself indicates, refers to situations in which one country resorts to the open use of (armed) force against another country or against a non-state actor, in addition to using other means, so it is clear that the use of this term is misplaced. Hybrid attacks, on the other hand, are defined as "a phenomenon resulting from the convergence and interconnection of different elements that together constitute a more complex and multidimensional threat". Examples of such threats are, for example, terrorist acts (Boko Haram, al-Qaeda or Daesh), attacks on the cybersecurity of states, actions of armed criminal groups (drug cartels in Mexico), maritime disputes (as in the case of the South China Sea), and covert military operations (e.g. Russia's use of special forces in Ukraine). Given these examples, it is obvious that a few thousand migrants and asylum seekers subjected to abuse and violence, many of them families and children, cannot really be considered a threat to the EU's security, especially when it is estimated that around 7,000 people are trapped at the border, compared to the 15,000 soldiers and border police that Poland has mobilised.

From the information obtained from the people trapped at the border, it is clear that since last summer the Lukashenko regime has launched a programme of human trafficking, mostly people and families from Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi origin, many of them Kurds, to whom Belarusian tour operators facilitated their travel on tourist visas. Once in Minsk, these people were taken by taxi to the border area, where Belarusian border guards lead the migrants to the Polish border. Once there, every person is systematically expelled by Polish border guards, without the possibility to apply for asylum, which is illegal under European law. After this first illegal expulsion, the migrants were seized by Belarusian border guards and taken to open-air concentration points, where they remained without shelter, food or water for days or weeks. These groups of migrants have been forced to make repeated, mostly unsuccessful attempts to reach Poland. Testimonies are consistent in pointing to abuses by Belarusian and Polish border guards, who have used stun guns, tear gas, and water cannons. There have also been reports of separation of families, where in cases of serious illness, adults and (accompanied) children are admitted to Polish hospitals, while the rest of the family members are expelled, with no possibility of communicating with their sick relatives. These migrants crossing the borders are not terrorists or paedophiles, as the Polish government falsely claimed in the past, but people with different motivations for fleeing their country, whose applications for entry must be examined under existing legal procedures and in compliance with European law.

In the end, the Belarusian regime eventually moved about a thousand migrants, including children, to an indoor centre and provided blankets and food, while Iraq announced a voluntary repatriation flight, while buses picked up an unspecified number of people and moved them away from the border.

In this regard, the Polish authorities have also rejected repeated offers of European assistance, through the intervention of the EU's border guard, Frontex, which makes it difficult to manage the situation and exacerbates the opacity of Polish practices at the border. Poland is, however, willing to accept help from the agency to facilitate repatriations, which in this case would be carried out without any guarantee that asylum applications have been properly examined, and is calling for European funding to build a border wall, an idea supported by other member states. Both demands must be rejected outright.


Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Thijs Reuten, Pietro Bartolo, Cyrus Engerer

My EP Work

Dashing from one meeting to another, to debating groundbreaking legislation with colleagues, stopping to give interviews to the media, or drafting resolutions - there are truly no two days which are identical at the European Parliament. However, our goal remains constant: to work for a stronger Europe which is just and equal, a Europe which we all are proud to call our home.

In the Press

To paraphrase a famous text, a spectre haunts Europe: that of phobia to immigration, encouraged from multiple centres of persuasion and power. The far right in Europe has not achieved major electoral victories, at least as a first party, in virtually any member state, but it has managed to establish a negative narrative against immigration in public opinion, which has permeated the views of many governments.

However, the widespread anti-immigration discourse, and the policies that implement it, reveal a schizophrenic Europe. This rejection of those fleeing war, misery and the systematic violations of their human rights, as well as being unfaithful to its values of equality, freedom and fraternity, and violating the Geneva Convention, which in 2021 will be seventy years old, is inconsistent with the reality of a continent in serious demographic decline, and whose rural areas, especially valued by EU policies since the origin of integration, is rapidly depopulating. Let no one be under any illusions: the salvation of an empty Europe does not lie in installing all kinds of infrastructures in the countryside, however necessary this may be, but in an active repopulation policy that must take immigration as its central vector.

But Europe is also weakened politically because its adversaries know that nothing makes the European Council more nervous than a few thousand immigrants trying to cross an external EU border. And they act accordingly, as Lukashenko has done at the border with Poland, shamelessly instrumentalising human beings, some of whom have met their deaths from hunger or cold, including a one-year-old child, also because of the cruel, inhumane, and illegal policy undertaken by the Warsaw authorities, "shielding" the border, denying asylum requests, carrying illegal refoulements, and denying access to humanitarian aid organisations and journalists.

In the face of this situation, the European Council President Charles Michel was quick to travel to the Polish capital on 10 November 2021, not to call the government to account and demand that it comply with its European and international legal obligations, but to offer his unconditional "solidarity" with the scorched earth policy of Morawiecki's ultra-right-wing government. Michel took up the alarmist and militaristic rhetoric, calling the actions of the Belarusian authorities a "brutal, hybrid, violent and undignified attack" and undermining in the process European legislation that prohibits expulsions and establishes clear and guaranteed border procedures for foreigners seeking to enter European territory. We have thus moved from a situation where Poland, a state subject to Article 7, was under intense scrutiny and pressure for the constant and intentional erosion of the rule of law and fundamental values, to a climate of political support where issues fundamental to the Union are relegated to the background, such as the supremacy of EU law, which the Polish government rejects.

To this must be added the use and abuse of terms such as 'hybrid threat', 'hybrid war', 'hybrid attack' and other warmongering language, which contrasts with a vision of the European Union as an instrument of peace and founded on human rights and which does not correspond to reality, because although migrants have been instrumentalised for destabilising purposes, their irregular entry into Poland does not in itself pose a threat to territorial integrity, political independence or security.

According to specialised literature, hybrid warfare, as the adjective itself indicates, refers to situations in which one country resorts to the open use of (armed) force against another country or against a non-state actor, in addition to using other means, so it is clear that the use of this term is misplaced. Hybrid attacks, on the other hand, are defined as "a phenomenon resulting from the convergence and interconnection of different elements that together constitute a more complex and multidimensional threat". Examples of such threats are, for example, terrorist acts (Boko Haram, al-Qaeda or Daesh), attacks on the cybersecurity of states, actions of armed criminal groups (drug cartels in Mexico), maritime disputes (as in the case of the South China Sea), and covert military operations (e.g. Russia's use of special forces in Ukraine). Given these examples, it is obvious that a few thousand migrants and asylum seekers subjected to abuse and violence, many of them families and children, cannot really be considered a threat to the EU's security, especially when it is estimated that around 7,000 people are trapped at the border, compared to the 15,000 soldiers and border police that Poland has mobilised.

From the information obtained from the people trapped at the border, it is clear that since last summer the Lukashenko regime has launched a programme of human trafficking, mostly people and families from Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi origin, many of them Kurds, to whom Belarusian tour operators facilitated their travel on tourist visas. Once in Minsk, these people were taken by taxi to the border area, where Belarusian border guards lead the migrants to the Polish border. Once there, every person is systematically expelled by Polish border guards, without the possibility to apply for asylum, which is illegal under European law. After this first illegal expulsion, the migrants were seized by Belarusian border guards and taken to open-air concentration points, where they remained without shelter, food or water for days or weeks. These groups of migrants have been forced to make repeated, mostly unsuccessful attempts to reach Poland. Testimonies are consistent in pointing to abuses by Belarusian and Polish border guards, who have used stun guns, tear gas, and water cannons. There have also been reports of separation of families, where in cases of serious illness, adults and (accompanied) children are admitted to Polish hospitals, while the rest of the family members are expelled, with no possibility of communicating with their sick relatives. These migrants crossing the borders are not terrorists or paedophiles, as the Polish government falsely claimed in the past, but people with different motivations for fleeing their country, whose applications for entry must be examined under existing legal procedures and in compliance with European law.

In the end, the Belarusian regime eventually moved about a thousand migrants, including children, to an indoor centre and provided blankets and food, while Iraq announced a voluntary repatriation flight, while buses picked up an unspecified number of people and moved them away from the border.

In this regard, the Polish authorities have also rejected repeated offers of European assistance, through the intervention of the EU's border guard, Frontex, which makes it difficult to manage the situation and exacerbates the opacity of Polish practices at the border. Poland is, however, willing to accept help from the agency to facilitate repatriations, which in this case would be carried out without any guarantee that asylum applications have been properly examined, and is calling for European funding to build a border wall, an idea supported by other member states. Both demands must be rejected outright.


Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Thijs Reuten, Pietro Bartolo, Cyrus Engerer

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My EP Work

Dashing from one meeting to another, to debating groundbreaking legislation with colleagues, stopping to give interviews to the media, or drafting resolutions - there are truly no two days which are identical at the European Parliament. However, our goal remains constant: to work for a stronger Europe which is just and equal, a Europe which we all are proud to call our home.