Migrants: Victims of divisions within the EU?

Migrants: Victims of divisions within the EU?
By Sophie Claudet
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The European Union has been unable to implement a coherent migration policy. 'Insiders' takes you to the Alpine border between Italy and France where volunteers help migrants who are shunned and unwanted by both countries

In this edition of 'Insiders' we take you to a tiny border area in the Alps where dozens of migrants cross every month from Italy into France, sometimes risking their lives on narrow mountain paths. 

Unwanted and shunned by both countries, they have to rely on volunteers who step in for the authorities and, by doing so, risk fines and even prison for helping out. 

Their story epitomises what is clearly not working when it comes to Europe’s immigration policy.

Marred by political divisions and bureaucratic hurdles, Europe hasn't managed to enforce a coherent immigration policy to say the least. Rather it relies on the goodwill (or lack of) its member states. 

While Germany has taken in the lion’s share of asylum seekers since their number peaked in 2015, Poland or Hungary, for example, have refused to even respect migrant quotas set by the European Union. 

Italy and Greece complain, quite rightfully so, that their geographic location makes them a landing pad for most, if not all, migrants seeking a better future in Europe. 

Other countries like France have fared below expectations, especially when it comes to relocating migrants transiting through Italy and Greece.

Then there’s the whole debate over political versus economic migrants, with the latter mostly hailing from poverty-ravaged sub-Saharan Africa and largely unwanted in Europe.

Mountain path of danger and solidarity

At the Alpine border between Italy and France, our reporter Valérie Gauriat witnessed for herself the atmosphere of tension. Migrants risk their lives to try to cross the mountains undetected while volunteers from the local population go to extraordinary lengths to help them. A number of migrants have died recently in their attempted crossing into France.

Mountain-dwellers come to the aid of migrants in the absence of official reception facilities while far-right activists make it their business to try to stop the newcomers from getting through.

Yves Pascouau on EU migration policy: "There is no long-term vision"

At the end of the programme, we questioned immigration specialist Yves Pascouau, associate senior research fellow at the Jacques Delors Institute and researcher at the University of Nantes, where he holds the Schengen Chair, created as part of the Alliance Europa programme. He also edits EuropeanMigrationLaw.eu.

He regrets that EU member states don't have a united approach to migration, arguing that they remain divided on reforms to the Dublin Regulation and don't have an appropriate response to climate refugees.

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