And, in the wave of gushing emotion
being churned out by the British (and other) media, this is the point that is being missed. Given a choice, asylum seekers would be taking the easiest and safest routes into the territory of EU Member States.
The reason they do not is because these routes have been closed down, respectively by the Spanish, Greek and Bulgarian governments, with the acquiescence of the EU and the assistance, in the case of Greece and Bulgaria, of its Frontex border agency.
Driven to seek the sanctuary of Europe
- and taking up the EU's invitation
to seek asylum – desperate would-be migrants have taken to the boats. They do so because, if they want to get into the territory of EU Member States, they have no option.
It is then totally illogical for the EU then to propose
to extend the rescue operations in the Mediterranean, and for others to demand
that the UK joins them, while the prime minister makes pledges
he can't keep. For all that, the solution is simple. If we want to stop the drowning, we have to insist that the fences are taken down. The migrants should then be allowed in on foot, by bus or by train.
But, of course, there is the hypocrisy of it all. We do not want these people in the EU, so we allow the barriers to be erected, and (collectively) we make it more and more difficult and dangerous for the migrants to reach their destinations – all in the hope that they will be dissuaded from coming. And when they keep coming, and numbers drown in the process, the media weeps crocodile tears and demands action.
On the other hand, we get the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, telling us
that the only way to stop the drowning is to stop the boats coming – and to offshore the asylum-seeker processing – as his country has done. However, Tony Abbott, the Australian politician, doesn't understand that EU Member States can't follow suit as long as the Charter of Fundamental Rights
is part of the Lisbon Treaty.
Between the fences and the Lisbon Treaty, EU Member States are as trapped as the migrants who travel the dangerous routes to their territories. And so they have to go through the charade of caring about the people they have put in harm's way, and giving the unwanted survivors a free pass into their territories, expending millions on avoidable rescue operations in the process.
Thus we find ourselves having to do things we don't want to do, for absolutely no good reason, to achieve an unwanted outcome, with no ability to change things. As Booker noted
, this has to be the ultimate failure of policy.