Migrant crisis will return to Europe with a vengeance, by Roger Boyes.
The problem with this Brussels blend of catastrophism and complacency is that lurking around the corner there are real threats, not imaginary hobgoblins. Mass immigration dropped in 2016 but is likely to soar again next year as the cracks widen in refugee management worldwide.
A grizzled refugee professional set out his fears the other day. “We don’t really know who many of them are,” he said, talking of migrants arriving in Greece and Italy over the past few months. “We often don’t know their true nationality or names, their network of friends in Europe, who helped them to come over. They’re not saying, and we’re not asking.”
Erdogan meanwhile is pressing the EU, and Germany in particular, to honour a promise of visa-free travel to Europe for Turks; European parliamentarians say the post-coup crackdown has made this all but impossible. As Erdogan deepens his autocratic hold, so he is ready to take a calculated risk. If he doesn’t get more positive signals from Chancellor Merkel by the spring of 2017, he will let the swollen legions of refugees in his country make their way towards EU shores.
The timing is significant. Dutch elections are in March, with the ultranationalist Geert Wilders already making hay; by then Marine Le Pen’s presidential bid will be well under way. Both the Dutch and the French establishments will try unsuccessfully to keep Turkish visa liberalisation off the menu. If a migrant exodus is then unleashed, it will gnaw away at Angela Merkel’s support, endangering her own re-election in the autumn.
hat-tip Stephen Neil