Military Mission in the Mediterranean

European Perspectives

, by Chris Powers , Hervé Moritz, Marcel Wollscheid

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [français]

Military Mission in the Mediterranean
The European military operation against Mediterranean human trafficking has begun. In its first phase, it will foil the efforts of the traffickers. After that, their boats will be searched, taken over, and destroyed in Libyan ports under the framework of the UN. - © Felicito Rustique

Europe’s foreign ministers decided recently to launch a military operation against trafficking networks in the Mediterranean. Is this an appropriate response to the tragedy of Mediterranean migration? The Editors of TNF in English, French, and German have given their views below.

Military mission in the Mediterranean Sea - necessary and right

Marcel Wollscheid - Editor in Chief of

"The European Union has the responsibility to shut down the deadly path through the Mediterranean Sea.

The fight against people-smugglers requires resolute measures and let us be frank - hard power. Heavily armed smugglers will not turn over their boats to defenseless sea rescuers.

This military mission would put a stop to the smuggler’s game and save lives right now. Just recently, ships of the German, Italian and Irish marine rescued 3500 people at sea.

However, a military mission will not solve the political questions facing the member states. Questions about legal ways to apply for EU-asylum on foreign ground and a fair distribution of asylum seekers within the EU.

On the other hand, long-term foreign policy is needed to adress the roots of the problem: the regions around Europe need to be stabilized politically and economically. "

The European Union is guilty

Hervé Moritz - Editor in Chief of Le Taurillon

"European inaction about Mediterranean mass immigration is guilty of causing shipwrecks and migrants’ insecurity. European immigration policy, or we have to say “immigration policy of Member States”, is bankrupt. Each State takes few, uncoordinated measures and points out the inaction of other Member States. Italy, Greece or Bulgaria can’t protect European borders alone, save shipwrecked sailors and manage thousands of migrants and refugees.

To get round networks of smugglers, we should stop forbidden emigration particularly in North African countries and create a legal way to Europe for migrants. Forbidding emigration is a crime, because migrants leave their territories for the simple and good reason that war, persecutions, poverty and hunger strike their country. To limit immigration and welcome refugees, who need it, we should open some reception centres in countries of transit and remove camps, which don’t respect Human Rights. We should mobilise employees of embassies and consulates of Member States in Eastern and African countries to administer asylum applications with European criteria, and define a balanced distribution of migrants between Member States according to the capacity of each country. Finding an acceptable solution is a duty towards humanity."

Sceptical and expecting something more:

Christopher Powers - Managing Editor of The New Federalist

"While any action that may help the victims of trafficking is welcome, it’s hard to determine whether or not this will be of much help. When innocent people are in such close proximity to the smugglers, there’s a real risk of collateral damage when a military option is mentioned. Far more preferable would be to monitor their arrival on European shores and liberate the trafficked at that point, while arresting the smugglers.

None of this however will solve the bigger problems that prompt such migration patterns in the first place. Europe needs to revive its commitment to the development of its neighbours in North Africa to create a prosperous buffer between Europe and the rest of the continent. Further still, it should have an engaged foreign policy designed to promote development in the world’s poorest countries, championing the causes of human rights and democracy.

In the meantime, the EU should remember that it is the world’s largest economic unit and it is more than capable of taking on and sharing the load of refugees."

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