Diplomats from Germany, Italy, and France have been making overtures to Turkey in the hope of stemming the flow of migrants travelling to Europe.
The revelation of the potential Turkey plan, which would likely involve the transfer of money from European nations to help pay for improved asylum facilities in the country, comes only days after French President Francois Hollande made comments praising such a scheme.
Speaking after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi last week, Hollande said the European Union (EU) must “work with Turkey” in order to “ensure that those who are in Turkey can stay there, work there and have all the resources they need to wait until the situation in Syria is resolved”.
In addition to funding Turkey, the EU should set up “hot-spots” in Turkey, administrative offices of the European Union where migrants can be registered and assess their eligibility for residency and state benefits before they even start their journeys. He also called for the European Union to give more money to African nations, in the hope that would discourage people from thinking of migrating to Europe.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier flew out to Turkey last week with the intention of negotiating to prevent further migrant “chaos”, reports Politico.eu. While the amount of money involved could be significant, the $1 billion figure discussed for Turkey pales in comparison to the $14 billion already being spent by Germany on its own ‘refugees’ this year, which German states have already told the government is not enough. They want at least an extra $3 billion, reports TheLocal.de.
The over two million Syrian refugees presently living in Turkey has put an unbearable strain on the Turkish government and created a situation where it is far preferable for hundreds of thousands to migrate further north into Europe. Making hazardous boat journeys to Greece, or going by land through the Balkan peninsula, thousands enter the European Union every day. Croatia reports 25,000 had crossed their borders in just the past four days, while Austria reports 20,000 arrived over the weekend.
With the majority of refugees-turned-economic migrants heading to a small number of wealthy, generous countries like Germany and Sweden, the European Union has attempted to force redistribution around the continent, but this has proven extremely unpopular. While Germany expects upwards of one million arrivals this year, other countries have resisted the arbitrary settlement agreement, and plans to hammer out a plan failed last week.
Although Europe leaders will try again to settle the continent wide resettlement programme this week, encouraging would-be migrants to stay at home is likely to be a more permanent, and possibly significantly more cost-effective solution. Yet funnelling yet more taxpayers money into the third world, which already has an abysmal track record of delivering positive outcomes, may in fact compound the problem rather than alleviate it.
Writing in The Spectator earlier this month Fraser Nelson notes that counter-intuitively, raising wealth in poor countries actually increases emigration, as greater disposable wealth gives individuals the ability to travel, an unaffordable luxury to the absolutely destitute. Nelson quotes development economist Michael Clemens, who notes that until a nation hits middle income – around the wealth displayed by nations like Albania, any increase in income per capita will increase population flight.
Yet these are exactly the countries targeted by international aid. And there is no quick fix – the economist explains that even if these poor nations economies are helped to grow by an average-beating two-per-cent a year by foreign aid, it would still take 100 years for them to reach middle income levels. This also presumes economic growth in the rest of the world doesn’t inflate away their own progress and leave them at the bottom of the pile, exporting people they badly need to improve their own economy and stuck in a cycle of aid dependence and mass emigration.
Over two million Syrians are presently living in Turkey, and many of those will be there simply for the reason they can’t afford to move on. The political leaders of Europe might be well advised to read Clemens’ report and wonder whether in trying to curb mass migration to the continent, cutting a cheque is as just good as writing an invitation.