The other side of the Crisis

The dominant narrative of the European Union’s crisis emphasizes finance over human security. Greece has been saddled not only with unmanageable debts, austerity budgets, and German condescension but also with the frontline burdens of a broken European Union asylum and migration regime that combines high ideals with deep denial.

The migrant bottleneck is the result of an E.U. design that now looks almost as flawed as the euro. It is called Dublin II, and it was struck amid the fiscal, monetary, and economic optimism of 2003. It holds that asylum seekers to E.U. countries can only be evaluated and adjudicated in the country where they enter first. The geography-driven effect of this rule has been to allow Germany, France, and other countries that are attractive destinations for undocumented economic migrants to push off on Greece administrative, welfare, and policing burdens that its weak government could not handle even when times were good.

The Greek financial crisis reflects complicity between profit-hungry northern-European lenders and reckless southern borrowers. What has Germany offered? It has sent police called “document consultants,” who scan Greek airports and ferry ports “to keep a lookout for suspicious travellers” who might be headed north, as a recent Der Spiegel account described. “The rest of Europe has sealed itself off.”

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