europe_hopes
20/11/2015, 10:00



Europe:-last-chance?-The-European-response-to-migration-and-terrorism-


 Europe: last chance?



 
author Tommaso  Leso

Brussels, 20.11.2015 - After the terrorist attacks of November 13 in Paris, and even more so after the discovery of the ties between some of the terrorist and the capital of Belgium, the political agenda and the media events in Brussels has undergone major changes.
Les Journées de Bruxelles, the yearly event organised at the Palais des Beaux Arts by the Belgian newspaper OBS, with the collaboration of other major Belgian newspapers (Le Soir, De Standaard) and the patronage of the European Commission and the city of Brussels, went nonetheless on as planned on Wednesday 18 and Tuesday 19 November: the attacks in Paris, however, had a powerful effect on the discussions taking place during the panel devoted to the "migratory challenges" that Europe is facing right now.
The fervent address by Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, reminded the audience that these terrorist attacks were carried out by European citizens, born and bred in Europe - they are the product of the forty-year long lack of effective policies of inclusion. As he pointed out, "they are our citizens, and our responsibility". He also explained that it is precisely in dire times that we must preserve our values of humanity and solidarity, not falling to populism, to fear and prejudice, to divisions within our society: the European leadership must therefore grow stronger.
All the analysts in the panel brought insightful views to the intertwined themes of migration and terrorism. Philippe Douste-Blazy, a French politician and, among other things, former minister of Defence (2005-2007), identified right away the three major challenges that the current terrorist threat presents to Europe and the EU: first and foremost, the preservation of the European values of democracy and civil liberty - attacking refugees in the wake of terrorist attacks, when they are the first victim of those same terrorists and are fleeing to Europe to find shelter, is simply disgusting (bear in mind that this was a conservative politician speaking). Secondly, security:  Europe needs an integrated police system, able to tackle challenges on a European level. Last but not least, defence and foreign policy: the main problem of waging war to ISIS, as French president François Holland and many other world leader have pledged to do during these last weeks, is that it is a non-state, at the same time nowhere and everywhere.
General
Jean-Paul Perruche, President  of EuroDéfense-France, picked up on the theme of additional integration as a tool to tackle the crisis, and made the case for a common European defence. Convincingly, he argued that the distinction between security (actions carried out by the police, within the boundaries of a state) and defence (actions carried out by the military outside the national territory) is increasingly blurred, as the quasi-military police actions in Saint-Denis (Paris) and Brussels show. He also objected to the total subordination of the foreign policy of European countries to that of the United States: and a common, strong defence program is the only means able to give Europe more independence in this field.
The speech of Edouard Tetrau, journalist and essayist, brought to light some of the problems and contradictions of Europe’s approach to the migrant crisis and to terrorism. First of all, he deplored the use of the word "migrant", because of the unwelcoming connotation it bears, with its implied assumption of the provisional nature of any settlement  the people coming to Europe could find, of any life they could build; moreover, he accused the citizens of Europe of suffering from a form of de-mission in their relations to defence and foreign policy, and he was right. How many of us think to defence spending as something more than a waste of money? How many of us even think in any active manner about the military? If we are to carry Europe forward, he pointed out, we should become a bit more like the American people: more optimist, and readier to use "actions, and not words".
The debate was closed by a showing of comic strips on both migration and terrorism by Plantu, a French cartoonist whose work focuses on foreign policy and its effect on war, peace, and poverty. In a collection of impressing and powerful comic strips, one in particularly hit me: a boat packed full of people is sinking, but a golden Superman, the letters EU on his chest, keeps it afloat. That, for me, is the symbol of the EU as it should be, the EU we should work to build. The embodiment of the values it represents and the role that it should play in the world.


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