Monday, 1 June 2009

Fortress Europe or a Social Europe?

Over the past few months, many EU citizens have been discussing the impact of illegal immigration on various countries. Malta has been mentioned by a number of EU politicians on countless occasions even though not everyone thought that enough was done to address the issue in the best possible way. As shown by the photo posted above, one of the key questions for this year's European Parliament elections is: What kind of borders should we have?

In view of the fact that I consider myself to be a citizen of the world, I strongly believe that human beings should be allowed to move from one corner of the planet to another without having to face a shocking number of hurdles. At the end of the day, no person gets the opportunity to choose the country that they are born in; why should one be constrained to spend all one's life in a specific country without the opportunity to move easily to another place? Why is it that if one is born in an EU country, they are able to move freely to over 25 other countries whereas an individual born in, say, Sudan would probably have to face an incredible amount of bureaucracy to attempt to move to another country?

People decide to move from one place to another for various reasons. One of them is that an individual could nurture certain beliefs that are much more popular in one country than another. One country could offer more job opportunities than another. One country could provide more space, more greenery, more cultural organisations...

If capital can move around the world so swiftly and, in many cases, with hardly any obstacles, why can't human beings also be allowed to move around so easily??? Is money more important than human welfare?

The immigration issue is not a Maltese one. It is affecting several other European countries such as Italy and Spain. In my view, it is extremely important for EU politicians to be able to come together to find solutions that will avoid creating first-class and second-class citizens. Perhaps the time has come to revisit the various laws regarding immigration so that the world could become a fairer place. Is it fair to treat an individual who simply wants to move to another country in order to work and live there like all other law-abiding citizens as a dangerous criminal?

Over the past few weeks, some people have strongly criticised the ways in which a number of supposedly socialist parties have reacted to the illegal immigration phenomenon. Real socialists, it is often said, should try to tear down the artificial barriers that separate human beings from one another. Having said this, it is still comforting to know that even though some socialists could sometimes appear to have been injected by a heavy quantity of nationalism, their parties represent much greater hope than others that are also contesting the European Parliament elections.

The European Union should not become a fortress. It should serve as a model of fraternity to the other regional blocks around the world.

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