The tragedy of the 900 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean at the weekend of April 18-19 as they fled North Africa for a new life in Europe was discussed at the European Economic Congress in Katowice, Poland, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
A panel discussing the future of Europe tackled the issues of how, although Europe needs the immigration of skilled people to offset its demographic losses, it has no answer to the illegal inflow of mostly unskilled people across the Mediterranean.
Criminal and irresponsible gangs making money from packing ignorant refugees on to unseaworthy small boats for the perilous journey have to be caught and punished.
But this does not solve the underlying causes and consequences.
GIS has commented repeatedly that as long as instability, war and famine prevail in Africa and the Middle East this situation will continue. The situation south of the Mediterranean is actually going from bad to worse and this is likely to continue.
The problem should not be left to the southern European countries to tackle on their own. It requires a broader European effort.
The refugees should not be kept in camps, but should be able to work. This will require some changes in labour laws, which could be necessary anyway to solve Europe’s problem of youth unemployment.
European infrastructure programmes could use an increased workforce. Is it possible to switch what is perceived as a real human problem into an opportunity for migrants and for Europe?