The relevance that migration as an issue area is progressively assuming in the European Union’s agenda has been recently underlined by the events occurred in North Africa and the Middle East. The latest report delivered by the FRONTEX Risk Analysis Network (FRAN) has shown that the focus on irregular immigration at the EU’s external border has been recently shifting from the East to the Central Mediterranean, with a remarkable increase in detection of illegal border crossing in the first quarter of 2011 with respect to previous figures (FRAN Quarterly 2011). The European response to the uprisings in the region has been quite fragmented and uncoordinated.
The tepid resolution and the patchy answer to the crises in the immediate neighborhood invite reflections on two fronts: externally, the EU has shown a general preference for stability in the near abroad; abating previous regimes would put in danger agreements on the control of illegal flows. Internally, Member States have buck-passed responsibilities on flow management and the rise of national barriers has been adopted as first tool to handle the crisis. Both elements testify to a general interpretation of illegal flows towards the EU as a security challenge,
Ultimately, though, this approach has backfired on the EU, the external and internal credibility thereof seems to be questioned. To have an impact on global politics the EU should live up to its aspirations, act coherently and comply with fundamental principles subsumed in its experience. Part to this process would imply to deviate from a prevalently security interpretation and governance of illegal immigration, which looks as short-sided and flawed a strategy to face the phenomenon.