Jonathan Scheele (SEESOX Associate; Senior Member, St Antony's College, Oxford)
SPEAKER: Professor Brad Blitz, Middlesex University
Brad Blitz gave the first SEESOX seminar of the Michaelmas Term on 15 October, on the highly topical issue of migration. How was the “hardening” of the EU’s external borders, in parallel with the “softer” internal regime under Schengen actually affecting migration flows and respect for the rights of migrants?
Blitz pointed out that the current situation was not entirely new, with the first problems occurring before Sangatte, Calais in 2000. Nor had there been any lack of success in integrating previous waves of refugees (Vietnamese Boat People, Former Yugoslavian refugees) – in the latter case many had been returned once the fighting had stopped and their temporary protection ended. But refugee policy had historically always been dictated by foreign and security policy considerations and that trend is still evident today.
Flows across the Mediterranean so far this year had reached nearly 600,000, with over 3,000 deaths. And the crisis in Syria had added a new dimension to previously existing flows from failed states in Africa and central Asia. The flows are mixed, with refugees alongside economic migrants – in one instance labour migrants from Bangladesh crossed to Europe to escape the chaos in Libya, where they had previously been employed. The main routes were from Libya north to Italy and from Turkey to Greece and then through the Balkans to Austria and Germany. A new Arctic route had appeared in the summer, through Northern Russia to Norway.