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Freedom of movement, immigration, Schengen : what are the Eurolanders expecting?
by Newropeans-Magazine
2011-12-30 10:25:28
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Use of illegal immigration to justify restrictions on Shengen's free movement rights, attempts by the national states to act on their own in these matters, lack of European governance of Shengen, demagogic use of immigration's fear to serve rightist extremists' agenda ... what the Eurolanders and other Europeans are exactly expecting is the last question that politicians are trying to find out. Their only aim seems to be serving their short term electoral interests, even at the expense of the European collective interest, even at the expense of their citizens' interest. On such key political issues, it is urgent to rationally identify the expectations of people in order to stimulate a democratic debate.

These topics are key issues for the development of the European space. Schengen is one of the finest inventions in Europe, it means the liberation of borders, freedom of movement also the freedom of establishment and freedom to work. Unfortunately today we consider Schengen under the aspect of immigration, more under its appearance of "illegal" immigration.

However Schengen was not a gift, one more gift for Europe. This space is simply the result of a growing cross-border movement. And contrary to popular belief it is Schengen establishing the "Fortress Europe": the rights and powers of customs controls have been strengthened within the borders and external borders of EU, states have set up a common computerized file, tools to better control the internal space and its borders.
So it's not Schengen the responsible for massive waves of immigrants arriving at Lampedusa and we do not know how to handle. What is missing to "fight" against illegal immigration is a better collaboration among states, inside Schengen space and of departure. Our economic, agricultural, fiscal and international policies reinforce poor living conditions outside the EU. This is actually antithetical to stem Libyan refugees while we make the war in their country. We must act so that people outside the EU have equal opportunities of life in their country of origin, in that we may be restricting the profits that we could do by exploiting their wealth. We are co-responsibles of the revolutions in North Africa and therefore for the refugees of the region. If we can not overcome the flood of refugees because we can not reduce its importance then it is a sign of weakness of the EU.
Two preliminary questions arise, whether it suits us to live in a fortress Europe and on what scale we want to fix our immigration policy: national or European?

Immigrant populations of issued of immigrant populations, an asset for the future of the euro zone and Europe
For Marie-Hélène Caillol, president of LEAP/E2020, a sociologist and mainly interested in questions of Arab immigration, the populations of immigrant origin are an asset to European integration and the future of Europe , at least in its most integrated part of the Euro zone. These people are multilingual (at least bilingual), multicultural, and highly mobile within the European framework. Young people from immigrant families are more interested in European history and that linked to that of their families. They are a great asset to the development challenge of the EU and the euro zone for the development of which they can contribute their wealth, their ability to manage multicultural relations. Unfortunately their contributions and developments are denied by the rise of right-wing extremists. The development of Europe is not yet complete, it is a continuous process and must also rely on these people, we must do it together.

Populations that have a role to play in the development of international relations
Sonia Mejri, Vice President of UJME. It is actually more interesting to express the positive aspects of immigrant populations. Another aspect to be stressed is their weight in the relations with the countries of origin outside Europe (their parents most often).
The UJME aims to develop these relations and those between the Maghreb countries.
When we speak of immigration, would it not be better to talk about “irregular” immigration rather than "illegal" because no one is itself in "illegal" situation but "irregular".
Immigration has many causes, and it is important to identify these causes are multiple, economic, social but also ecological. Industrialized countries are the most polluting, and this also in areas that are not on their continent, they exploit for their own profit. They are also responsible for this immigration there. Immigration in general is not wanted it is necessary to people who see no alternative but to leave for wanting a "better" life.

After the round of the panel, the participants of the plenum took part in the discussion. Here are some of their contributions:
Feeling European: The populations in Europe with an immigrant background who were born in Europe do not arise the question of whether they are French or German or Italian, or the issue of return, their country is here in Europe, there is no reason that they not stay in France or Europe. You can not blame someone for not wanting to go home until the situation in the country of origin is not "healthy". In addition, the roots must be an enrichment of European culture. Immigrants and populations of immigration have a strong commitment to their country of origin, they send money to help their families, for example. But actually they could have a greater political involvement here in Europe.

On the question whether we should not move towards a common policy of immigartion has been highlighted the complexity of the situation. Each country has a different (im)migration situation as well as immigrants from different countries are different. But common axes and policies can still be defined.
. Above all, the countries of the euro zone, and beyond, have all made the same observation: the end of “Multikulti” and are searching for a new model of integration. Marie-Hélène Caillol underlines the French model of integration certainly faces difficulties, but we have seen that the American/English multiculturalism is a failure. Merkel, as well Cameron, acknowledged it, and are looking for other models of integration. The problem is that currently the political campaigns take the debate in hostage.
. Furthermore the international environment is  changing. Franck Biancheri points out that one of the objectives of this conference is to lead the discussions critical to accelerate integration. The international social environment has changed, there was the Arab spring, but also the emergence of new blocks as the BRICS. But today all countries are strengthening their immigration policies and border controls. These are populist measures that allow the public to focus on only one aspect of this problem of immigration. If we want to relaunch the European project in 2012/2013 we can not ignore these developments nor the Arab spring. Because immigration is like the weather, it does not stop. We must therefore strengthen our policy with the Arab world, which is one of the key players in regional development. It is too late to deplore an acceleration of Libyan immigration for example. It would have been better to ask the question before: is it a good solution or is there any other diplomatic solution to support democratization in Libya? What we should not ignore is that the populist forces are not anti-European, if they were in power they would be pro-European, because there are no other issues. LEAP fixed a space-time limited to 10 years to prevent such a situation occurs.
. Sonia Mejri proposes to focus also specifically on the Maghreb (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria). The bombing of Libya has compounded the problem across the Maghreb, which must also accommodate immigrants from Libya. So it is a problem in addition, the management of internal migration inside Maghreb.

Are we willing to open our borders or do we only want selective immigration? Much has been invested in North Africa but it remains difficult to explain to local people because of the debt. Europe is responsible in the exploitation and depletion of natural resources that deprive local people of what could ensure their food, economic and environmental survival, ... facing a growing population. There is need to support these populations, to put in place policies of birth control, however this aspect is challenged regarding the Maghreb, where the rate of population growth tends to decline, as in Europe.
There is no difference between north and south of Europe, while we are not dealing with the same populations of immigration, for example in Germany it is mostly Turks or Russians, the issue of integration is the same. The integration of young people is a problem throughout Europe. Religion plays an important role as a factor of identification (at least this is what claim the communities) but very out of step with the secularization taking place in the countries of origine (see the Arab spring). Often the relationship between the immigrant and his country is more difficult than it seems, That's why structures to allow immigrants and population issued from immigration to re-link with the country of origin are important.
We must stop saying "you're not from here," every citizen wherever he may be is entitled to exercise the same rights and responsibilities.
Do we want to replace the “national nationalism” by “European nationalism”? Populists do not deny freedom of movement, only they still define themselves in relation to what is across European borders.
European foreign policy is in complete failure when the waves of immigrants are pushed back at our borders. Immigrants are driven out of public places by police. Freedom of movement and migration should be treated in parallel as they go together. Many French pensioners go to Morocco for their retirement because life is cheaper. A common policy, a European approach is needed.

For Franck Biancheri, the rise of the extrem right parties in Europe is part of the "National-Europeanism" is that what we want? The issue of Russian immigrants and Turkish will be resolved in a decade. Europe has not experienced a crisis of management of immigration until the 2000s. Since the crisis, multiculturalism has shown its weaknesses and European countries are opting for a policy of integration, in this they are putting in place a harmonization of their policies on immigration. It also helps to keep religion out of the political field as outside the political integration process within the framework of secular European society, and force Islam's "Europeanization", to become a European Islam, as Islam expressed in different ways throughout the world. Otherwise Muslims will be a perfect target for all European right-wing nationalist. If the global crisis is not managed by 2017, the EU and North Africa will constitute a single geopolitical unit, as the Arab spring led to new developments.

The younger generations are increasingly involved in immigration issues, their influence and their identification in the European policy in this area will be particularly important.

Conclusions of the debate:
Harald Greib concludes here is a general consensus on the idea and meaning of freedom of movement of persons in Europe and the rejection of attempts to suppress the progress made by the EU. But there are no concrete proposals on the issue of immigration, how we should deal with illegal immigration has not been defined. But we could not expect that we can resolve this question today on which the European Council board stumbles for years without any decisive result. However the success of European integration is acquired. But ultimately, illegal immigration is only part of a larger complaint that one can do in Europe, which must be corrected, that Europe is pursuing a selfish policy that destroys the means of living in the country from which people flee to Europe. It is not to fight against illegal immigration but as much as possible to eliminate the causes of immigration.

After the panel several principles have been clearly identified on which work will be continued:
- Schengen ensures free movement of people and workers who are nationals of member states that are part of the space. But to be effective these states should pursue a policy of immigration on common principles
- the end of Anglo / American multiculturalism concept and looking for an integration policy for immigrants that is common to all states of the Eurozone based on secular European societies
-  a new international environment (Arab spring, migration issues within Maghreb countries) in which the states of Euroland have to define a special relationship with 'global' partners
- the need to define a European approach to tackle in parallel freedom of movement and migration issue.

► Panel chaired by Harald Greib, former German government lawyer, vice-president of LEAP/E2020
- Marie-Hélène Caillol, president LEAP/E2020,
- Sonia Mejri, International Secretary UJEM-France, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Council on Youth - Council of Europe


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