Friday, June 19, 2015

The Leak Metaphor

Nicolas Sarkozy has drawn heavy flak for comparing the influx of refugees to Europe to the flow from a burst pipe:
« Dans une maison (…), il y a une canalisation qui explose, elle se déverse dans la cuisine, a poursuivi M. Sarkozy. Le réparateur arrive et dit j’ai une solution : on va garder la moitié pour la cuisine, mettre un quart dans le salon, un quart dans la chambre des parents et si ça ne suffit pas il reste la chambre des enfants. »
With his characteristic grace and elegance, evidently much appreciated by the UMP--er, Republican--militants who laughed and applauded his remarks, Sarkozy is here denouncing the EU's quota plan, under which each member state would be required to receive a certain number of refugees, based on its capacities.

With his analogy, Sarkozy mocks this solution. The appropriate thing to do, he says, is to cut off the flow. Of course, that would leave the residents of the metaphorical house dying of thirst, deprived of water. The proper response is to repair the pipe.

Branko Milanovic, eschewing such homely analogies, offers a series of thoughtful reflections on the refugee crisis and, more generally, the issue of economic migration from south to north:
It is I think obvious that EU has absolutely no solution to this latest migration crisis. It is simply lost: with no strategy, no policy and no ideas. Not that the problem is easy. But the only approach that might begin to produce something that resembles a solution would be multilateral, not solely amongst EU members (as in the current, strongly contested, idea of allocating migrants among EU member-countries), but in including also the emitting countries from Africa. A general system of both emitting and receiving country quotas seems the only way to impose some order and stability. The quota system may not be able to deal with random events like the Syrian civil war, but it should be able to deal with economic migration.


Anonymous said...

the solution is fairly simple...the first world has to stop stealing from the countries it's stealing from and allow the native population to develop their resources at fair market prices and then they would be able to live at a decent level..maybe the west would be paying more, and corporations would make less, but that is the solution

Anonymous said...

I agree that "anonymous" has stated part of the solution. Another part is that countries like France need to stop worrying about "depopulation" (out of date for almost 100 years now, since Poincare) and stop subsidizing "familles nombreuses" (3 or more children per household). That France is so proud of having the highest birthrate in the European Union is a disgrace in 2015 with the refugee crisis in full "flood" and the looming Paris global warming summit on the horizon. I hear zero, zero!, discussion of ending these subsidies and I've lived in France since 1992. Totally politically taboo it seems to discuss the correlation between overpopulation and global warming.

C. Jon Delogu
PR, Department of English
Universite Jean Moulin, Lyon 3

James Conran said...

I'm quite puzzled by the hostility of north-western European states to the Commission proposals regarding "burden sharing" via quotas. Given that the migrants clearly prefer to go to France, the UK, Sweden, Germany etc. and not to eastern European countries, they would seem to have the most to gain from any such scheme. Of course there are practical difficulties in restricting the movement of immigrants within the EU (and especially the Schengen zone), but that's also true under the Dublin Treaty status quo (i.e. where asylum seekers have to be processed in the countr they first arrive in).