The immigration crisis that has engulfed Europe in 2015, has passed its peak point and is on the decline. However, the uncoordinated actions of EU member States to counter the influx of illegal immigrants has put the Schengen zone in an unstable intermediate position between absolute freedom of movement within the Union and the full restoration of the internal borders. The Russian authorities should think about improving the efficiency of its migration policy, including the cancellation of visa-free regimes with a number of countries.
These findings are contained in a report prepared by experts of the Valdai club and presented on Wednesday. A document entitled “the Schengen area is more alive than dead?”, was co-written by an expert on European integration, head of Department, Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences Olga Potemkina and officials of the Federal migration service, Deputy head of the Department of citizenship Julia Paukova.
Serious but stable condition
One of the most striking and important characteristic of the current situation with the influx of illegal migrants is, according to the report, the crisis of solidarity among EU countries. Distrust of the supranational structures and lack of coordination are one of the causes of the situation, and the deepening of this crisis of solidarity — one of the consequences.
Experts say that the EU has formed two main groups with two “poles” in relation to the problem of influx of refugees. “Euro-pessimists” are some former socialist countries and Austria, which are calling for solution of migration issues at the level of national authorities. “Euro-optimists”, calling for the search of the all-Union approach, submitted by Germany and partly France.
By the fall of 2016 masters of the situation feel the conservative governments of Eastern Europe, said at the presentation of the report of the Potemkin of the Russian Academy of Sciences. First and foremost it is the country “Visegrad group” — Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Firstly, this is due to the fact that Slovakia currently holds the EU presidency and has made hosting a key summit of the European Council devoted to problems of migration, of a British exit from the EU and other pressing issues. Second, at this summit many of the leaders of the Union agreed with the proposed “Visegrad group” the principle of “flexible solidarity.”
The idea is to replace the quota system in the distribution of refugees (which, according to experts “Valdai”, is already recognized in the EU failed) mechanism where the decision is taken by the authorities of individual countries, not the European Commission. It is planned that each country will be obliged to perform its experience and the economic and social potential in order to determine the possible contribution it can make to the solution of the European migration problems.
In fact, Potemkin says, it is contrary to the originally laid in the creation of the EU principle of solidarity and openness. The creation on the basis of the migration service of more powerful European Frontex border Agency (EBCG) to break the deadlock won’t help: getting more power, it will not receive its own material base for sufficient independence from national authorities.
The impunity of member countries for failure to execute the decisions of Brussels, half-hearted reform of the border guard and the prospect of the adoption of the principle of “soft solidarity” stabilize the situation, however, in the intermediate state. The alternative would be either the return of freedom of movement within the Schengen zone with a sharp strengthening of external border protection or a full rollback to the pre-Schengen as of 1980-ies, experts say “Valdai”.
The lessons of tolerance
The interests of Russia as a neighbour and partner of the EU in one way or another, addresses a massive migration crisis at its Western borders. Earlier, in may, in the framework of the Valdai club was published a report on EU-Russia relations, where it is explicitly stated that Moscow needs a stable and predictable partner in a United Europe.
Trade with the EU the last three years fall and will not be able to suffer extra in case of recovery within the Schengen border control, not least because the EU economy in these circumstances will be short from €5 billion to €18 billion annually, say experts “Valdai”. In particular, only the cost of transportation in the EU will grow, according to various estimates, in the amount of €1.7 billion to €7.5 billion.
By itself, the current migration crisis in the EU could become for Russia a kind of antiprimerom looking at which will need to be some adjustment of the border and migration policy, urging the authors of the report. First, is the analysis of security of borders and strengthening them in the most vulnerable areas. Then the use of the experience of receiving refugees from the Donbass to create necessary infrastructure if migration flows are directed from Europe to Russia.
Finally, since the monitoring of migration flows easier to make using a visa, “Valdai” offers to consider the abolition of visa-free regimes with certain countries. Specified in the report “analysis of the feasibility of denunciation of the existing agreements on visa-free trips of citizens” applies primarily to Russia’s neighbors from the CIS countries, the Director of the Centre of migration policy, Olga Chudinovskikh. In conversation with Chudinovskikh noted that such measures are not only fraught with social crisis, but also create barriers of the current labour flows. The authors of the report note that within the Schengen zone the restoration of border control will have a negative impact on the lives of 1.7 million Europeans who live in one EU country and working in another.
Experts “Valdai” predict even the influx of immigrants from EU countries to Russia, as the migration crisis leads to worsening social and political situation. It comes as European citizens and former Russian emigrants in the West and refugees from countries in the Middle East. And those and others, emphasizes Paukova of the Federal migration service must be checked for involvement in terrorist activities. In the case of illegal penetration of middle Eastern refugees through Europe to Russia to the Convention relating to the status of refugees is a legal opportunity simply to expel them. Formally, the authorities are obliged to accept illegal immigrants coming from countries where their lives and freedom are threatened, but Europe in this category, obviously not the case.
However, conflicts in the middle East and Ukraine, and unprecedented in several decades, the wave of refugees from war zones should convince Moscow not only to strengthen the borders, but also to reform legislation, experts say “Valdai”. Given the experience of southern Europe, where the influx of illegals paralyzed the work of the migration service, in Russia it is proposed to introduce the concept of “temporary protection”. This type of shelter will be an emergency order be issued to groups of refugees on a small up to six months in order for this period of time to decide the fate of migrants on an individual basis.
The legislative forming of the mechanism of “temporary protection” was launched at the initiative of the Federal migration service in 2014 and was associated with the wave of refugees from the Donbass. According to the Federal portal of projects of normative legal acts on the website of the Ministry of economic development, the FMS proposed a package of bills (including amendments to the Tax code) is in the discussion stage and has not yet been adopted.
“Valdai” was established in 2004 as a discussion platform for Russian and international experts, political analysts and diplomats. The co-founders were two expert organizations (Russian international Affairs Council and the Council on foreign and defense policy) and two institutions (MGIMO, HSE). The club holds annual conference, which attracts former and current heads of state, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin.