Jean-Claude Juncker

“We have drastically reduced the loss of life in the Mediterranean.” said Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. It seems a glamourus sentence asserting that the European institutions held its end up to reduce enormous migrant flows. This was the most remarkable one that Juncker underlined in his speech at the State of the Union.  After completing to read his whole speech, I looked up the dictionary. The word drastic means “severe and sudden or having very noticeable effects“. Let’s make it easier: Less number of migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean. So we should be glad, right? Just check it out, we don’t need labyrintichal graphs:

2015: 3,771

2016: 5,143

2017 (till now): 2,550


A Humanitarian Crisis Beyond Numbers: What Juncker Misses Out?

Firstly, we don’t know exactly how many people drown in the Sea. We just mention “numbers” given by officials.  What’s more, when I see those staffs, compiled of lots of numbers and graphs, I think we overlook the fact that every individiual has equal importance. Even the number is 1, authorities should deal with the roots of the problem.

Another problem of being obsessed to numbers is failing to notice daunting amount of human rights abuses across the European borders. Dire refugee conditions on Greek islands do not take place in the boastful speechs of political leaders. People who fled from ongoing conflicts face with worse conditions in the refugee camps. Still, the numbers are enough to lose one’s sleep in Brussels. The real problem is many leaders did not understand that migration is not a problem. That’s why Juncker can show the “drastic” reduction of numbers as a success.

However, the President Juncker is talking about praising a situation where thousands of people have died and will continue die. It give a sense that how political leaders embrace a problem. If you how  one deal with a problem , it is not easy to predict so-called “solutions”.

He, then remembered people drown while trying to cross the Mediterranean.  “Tragically, nearly 2,500 died this year. I will never accept that people are left to die at sea.” What the real tragedy is 50 more people died in the Mediterranean after Mr. Juncker mentioned that, that is, in 2 days.


Inefficient Relocation Mechanism

Relocation is still the most challenging problem of the EU, current data shows. The lack of an effective relocation scheme continues to threaten the fair way of cooperation.

As of September 13, although the Member States pledged for 70,081 relocation, they only accepted 28,191 refugees. On the other hand, there is a legal battle over relocation scheme. The Visegrad Group (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Czechia) rejected the plan. They voted against the quota law in 2005. Moreover, Czechia and Poland halted accepting refugees. These moves raised the debates of the lack of burden sharing among the EU.


Getting Further Away From Solution in Libya

A recent Oxfam report reveals terrific conditions of the country: 

  • 74% of the refugees and other migrants said they had witnessed the murder and /or torture of a travelling companion
  • 84% said they had suffered inhuman or degrading treatment, extreme violence or torture in Libya
  • 80% said they had been regularly denied food and water during their stay in Libya
  • 70% said they had been tied up

The current picture of Libya shows how the ineffective measures have made the problem more complicated. In the last years the EU suggested lots of “roadmaps” including partnership with the UN-backed Tripoli government.

On February 3rd, The  Council held an informal summit to focus on further measures on curbing the flow of migrants across the Central Mediterranean route. Just before the summit, Italy and Libya signed a bilateral agreement in Rome (The Memorandum of Understanding) that aims to buttress the efforts of the Libya coast guard to put a strain on the rise of irregular migration.

There was overwhelming evidence for proving that previous attempts may fizzle out when they exclude local communities. The EU is planning to grant maritime operations for local authorities which seemingly involves the forcing of boats to return. All these attempts cast doubts on the EU’s way of managing the migration crisis.

“We must also urgently improve migrants’ living conditions in Libya. I am appalled by the inhumane conditions in detention or reception centres. Europe has a collective responsibility, and the Commission will work in concert with the United Nations to put an end to this scandalous situation that cannot be made to last.” said Mr. Juncker. He said something, whereas everything goes on the same way in Libya.


If EU Members maintain such reluctant attitudes upon the refugee crisis needed to be combatted altogether, the danger will turn to a threat for EU’s future. The President Juncker would be unaware of that the crisis could not be solved without eliminating the causes.

Now we mention a drastic decline in the number, but don’t forget that “European values” are drowning in the water of Mediterranean.

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