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The Ongoing Migration Crisis in Europe

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Authorities in Spain claim that more than 32,000 irregular migrants have reached the Canary Islands this year so far, exceeding the number of arrivals during the 2006 migration crisis. Most migrants depart from Senegal, while others come from Gambia, Mauritania, Morocco and the Western Sahara. It is a perilous week-long journey, covering almost 1,600 km across the Atlantic Ocean, with boats occasionally either shipwrecking or disappearing, as more than 500 people “have died on that route so far this year according to the International Organization for Migration, though the figure is believed to be a vast undercount.” Obviously not the safest route available, “To avoid border controls along the coast, smugglers take longer journeys, navigating first west into the open Atlantic before continuing north to the Canaries – a detour that brought many to the tiny westernmost El Hierro island.” [1] To resolve the situation, the Interior Minister of Spain, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, visited Dakar last week to “press the government to do more to stop boats from leaving.” [2]


Italy has also received thousands of irregular migrants, yet the Italian government has proved more inventive. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni recently announced that Italy will build two migrant centres in Albania by the spring of 2024 that “will be able to process up to 36,000 people a year. The plan will apply to migrants rescued at sea by Italian boats, and not to those who arrive on Italian shores. The migrants will stay in the centres while Italy examines their asylum requests, Ms Meloni said, adding that the plan would not apply to pregnant women, children and vulnerable people.” [3]


At the same time, the French senate is debating a bill “intended to toughen the country’s immigration law,” since “the measure would strengthen and accelerate the process for deporting foreigners who are regarded as ‘a serious threat to public order’.” The new bill, however, will also include “a provision that would give legal status under certain conditions to undocumented individuals working in specific sectors with labor shortages.” [4]

Evidently, the European Union has no common policy, a strategy for that matter, to either halt irregular migration or deal effectively (and legally) with those irregular migrants that have already landed on European soil. Meanwhile, the migrant death toll continues to rise.

Christos Kassimeris, PhD

Christos Kassimeris, PhD

Professor Christos Kassimeris heads the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at European University Cyprus and is coordinator of the BA in European Politics and Communication. Before joining European University Cyprus, he was teaching European Integration Politics and International Relations of the Mediterranean for three years at the University of Reading. He is the author of European Football in Black and White: Tackling Racism in Football (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007), Greece and the American Embrace: Greek Foreign Policy Towards Turkey, the US and the Western Alliance (I.B. Tauris Academic Studies, 2009) and Football Comes Home: Symbolic Identities in European Football (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers 2010), editor of Anti-racism in European Football: Fair Play for All (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009), The Marketing of War in the Age of Neo-Militarism (Routledge, 2011) and The Politics of Education: Challenging Multiculturalism (Routledge, 2011), and has several publications in political science journals. He is also Visiting Research Fellow at the University of De Montfort.