The Problem With European Immigration Policy…

Is that there is no European immigration policy.


There is a mish-mash of national policies, a patchwork of systems and criteria which are contradictory, incoherent, fragmented. Italy is very far way from Finland, not only geographically, but when it comes to immigration and asylum. France and Germany have quite different historical approaches to integrating newcomers. Sweden and Denmark are neighbours with a close shared history, but their immigration policies are chalk and cheese.

The seven countries of central Europe and the Baltic are being asked to take fewer than 30,000. It should not be a problem for big international cities such as Warsaw, Prague and Budapest. But the east Europeans are retreating into parochialism, digging into their national bunkers while nursing resentment at what they perceive to be German bullying.

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is the cheerleader of the “Europe is useless” chorus, but Robert Fico, the Slovakian premier, and President Milos Zeman in Prague are not far behind. Ewa Kopacz, the prime minister of Poland, sounds more moderate, but she looks likely to lose an election next month to the nationalist right. Her hands are tied.

I wouldn’t worry about any of this, however. Think Greece: Europe always manages to get together in the end, when stalling for time is no longer possible, to not solve a problem by doing almost just enough to put it off until it does not go away by itself.

“If this is Europe, you can keep it.”

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