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Symposium 2015

Virtual Library File - When the Best Option is a Leaky Boat: Why Migrants Risk Their Lives Crossing the Mediterranean and What Europe is Doing About It

The Challenge

Tens of thousands of irregular migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, set out for Europe each year. If they reach Europe alive, most ultimately manage to stay here - irrespective of whether ...

Tens of thousands of irregular migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, set out for Europe each year. If they reach Europe alive, most ultimately manage to stay here - irrespective of whether they are granted political asylum or refugee status. However, many irregular immigrants first have to criss-cross Europe in search of somewhere safe to live. Later, many live off welfare for several years because they are not allowed to work. Furthermore, EU member states have been slow to support those afflicted by humanitarian crises in their neighborhood, such as the war in Syria. In addition, there are almost no legal employment opportunities for low or medium-skilled immigrants from outside the EU. This situation calls for a comprehensive policy response by the EU and its member states to address humanitarian crises, apply uniform standards for protecting refugees and for deciding on political asylum and refugee status, and provide more legal employment opportunities for non-EU immigrants.

In this policy brief, Philippe Fargues and Sara Bonfanti take a close look at the the risks incurred by migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea, their motives in terms of labor migration vs. seeking protection, the pull effects of the "mare nostrum"  Italian navy operation, and alternative responses by the EU such as pre-voyage intervention.