Angela Merkel opened Germany’s doors to refugees in 2015, declaring “Wir schaffen das” (“We can do this”). The Europe of 2021 looks very different, says Aris Roussinos in UnHerd. The “hard line on migration” pioneered by Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, once “lambasted” by liberals, has entered the political mainstream. Austria has sent troops to meet migrants on its eastern border, and centre-left Denmark is returning refugees to Syria. The EU’s Frontex corps of border guards uses drones to monitor the “impassable border wall” between Greece and Turkey. When Estonia donated 100km of barbed wire to Lithuania to help repel the migrants Belarus is trying to push into the bloc, it was “presented as a heartening symbol of EU solidarity”.
Beyond the barbed wire are “border guard states” such as Turkey, where leaders will be “lavishly bribed” to stop migrants from landing on European shores. Europe’s only interest in the turmoil in Libya and Tunisia will be making sure this arrangement continues. And Britain will benefit in the short term: “Fortress Europe” pulling up the drawbridge will stem the flow of migrants landing on Kent’s shingle beaches. But this is all just a “dry run” for the coming decades, when climate change will spark “vast population movements” from Africa and southern Asia. “The walls are going up across Europe: we will not see them coming down again in our lifetimes.”
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