People suffocated in trucks, long columns of refugees on highways, dead children washed ashore – after the horrible images of this summer, nothing is the same in Europe. And things will never be the same again.
In the coming years and decades, Europe will remain a magnet for all the people who seek protection from persecution, war, poverty and hopelessness. Recognizing this fact is a part of the new “honesty” that the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, called for in his speech on the state of the European Union this week.
He emphasized that Europe is a place of exile, a place of hope, and that Europeans can be proud of that – bearing in mind their history of war, flight and expulsion.
He’s right. With its most recent proposals for meeting the challenge of the refugee crisis and the waves of migration, the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, is finally drawing the necessary conclusions. The legal status quo has not been in line with reality for a while now. Mr. Juncker is moving to change this situation.
It remains to be seen whether the E.U.’s member states will follow him. The chances aren’t so bad, because the pressure is greater than ever. And influential Germany is adhering to the Brussels position. There’s even praise to be heard coming from Berlin for the ideas to be heard in Europe’s capital – something that seldom occurs.
On taking office about a year ago, Mr. Juncker made a new policy on migration one of the European Commission’s priorities; for example, he promised more money for the E.U.’s border protection agency Frontex, and called for a more consistent deportation procedure as well as an expanded legal framework on immigration.