Fortress Europe kills to protect imperialism

Europe has the deadliest borders in the world, claiming more than 4,000 lives in 2015. The increased risk of winter crossings has not stopped those desperate to flee war, persecution, or poverty: in December 2015 an estimated 4,000 people per day crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece, and on 2 January 2016 the first death of the year was recorded when a two-year-old fell out of a boat that hit rocks off the Greek island of Agathonisi. Migrants have also renewed attempts to enter the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, with hundreds scaling the fences or swimming round them, but being forced back with violence by Moroccan forces and the Spanish Guardia Civil. During January 162 people were reported dead or missing at Europe’s borders; the actual figure is likely to be higher. Tom Vickers reports.

During 2015 more than 1.2 million people arrived by sea and land at the borders of Europe. Although a significant increase on the previous year, this is equivalent to only 0.24% of Europe’s population. Such numbers could easily be accommodated given Europe’s wealth, much of which has been plundered from other countries. The deaths that result from European states’ refusal to allow refugees and migrants safe passage is therefore a political choice, based on the defence of a barbaric capitalist system that cares nothing for human lives.

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Portugal; Eurozone and NATO confront election victors

The failure of the Portuguese left to combat the opportunism of the Portuguese Socialist Party effectively and force it into an electoral alliance before the 4 October parliamentary elections, gave room for the state president to refuse to invite them to form a government despite electoral gains by both the Socialist and Left Bloc parties. President Anibal Cavaco Silva’s obstruction directly reflects European financial interests and NATO’s political pressures.

In an openly reactionary step, President Silva was able to refuse to invite a coalition of electorally successful but disunited left parties to form a government on the grounds that in any case the left would violate existing commitments to the EU/IMF – the Lisbon Treaty, the Fiscal Compact, the Growth and Stability Pact, the euro itself and NATO. Constitutionally, a presidential election in January prevents another parliamentary election until June, so a government should be formed out of the recent election results. Thus on 22 October, gambling on continued divisions on the left, the president gave the incumbent, yet electorally defeated, Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, a new mandate to form a minority government. Coelho’s right-wing coalition won only 36.8 % of the vote. His ‘Portugal Ahead’ alliance of the conservative Social Democratic Party plus the neoliberal Democratic and Social Centre People’s Party is committed to maintaining the austerity programme agreed in the €78bn European Commission/European Central Bank/IMF bailout of 2011.

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A rising tide of racism against migrants and refugees

Refugees and migrants continue to struggle for entry to Europe, driven by war, repression and poverty created by imperialism. European states are attempting to reassert control, extending the repressive apparatus at Europe’s borders while increasing surveillance and reducing migrants’ rights within Europe. Tom Vickers reports.

Fortress Europe reorganises its defences

At the end of October representatives of 11 EU and Balkan states agreed a 17-point plan including: reception centres to house 100,000 newly-arrived refugees and migrants in Greece and along the western Balkans route; increased deportations and cooperation with governments receiving deportees in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq and Pakistan; additional assistance from the UN refugee agency; increased surveillance and registration of migrants by Frontex, the EU’s border agency; coordinated action between Europol, Interpol and local police against people smugglers; and an agreement that states will no longer facilitate the movement of migrants to the border of another country.

This plan is a reconsolidation of the arrangement by which those who cannot be kept out of Europe altogether will be contained in a peripheral zone, away from the main imperialist states of western Europe. In line with this, on 10 November the German Interior Ministry announced Germany would be renewing its use of the Dublin Regulation to return Syrian refugees to the first EU country where they were registered. The reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November again called these arrangements into question, with officials from Poland, Slovakia and the German state of Bavaria expressing new reservations, and sections of the media claiming spurious links between refugee movements and the Paris attacks.

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Solidarity with Calais migrants

‘In the last weeks many of us had to face a lot of police violence. Some of us got broken hands and broken legs… In the next days the fascists will come to Calais to meet and demonstrate here. There is no shelter for us to hide from them. We cannot trust the police to protect us as we experienced already so much violence from them. Migration is not a crime and each of us has reasons why we had to leave our countries and our families and why we are here now. Europe is always talking about human rights and freedom but we can not find this here.’ (Statement from migrants’ demonstration, 5 September 2014)

The plight of the migrants stranded in Calais hit headlines in Britain at the beginning of September when nearly one hundred managed to scale the fence surrounding the French port and storm the ramp of a ferry bound for Dover. The crew drove them back with fire hoses and hurriedly sealed the ship.

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Solidarity with migrants: taking on Fortress Europe

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 240 August/September 2014

There has been a sharp rise in the last year in the number of migrants attempting to reach Europe as they flee imperialist wars, repression and poverty. Following dangerous routes across land and sea, often paying thousands of euros to unscrupulous people-smugglers, men, women and children are risking their lives in ever growing numbers to reach what they see as the relative safety and and economic security of Europe. In response, the imperialist countries have poured millions of euros into securing European borders, while brutally harassing, detaining and attacking those who do succeed in breaching the racist defences of Fortress Europe. But as repression intensifies, so does resistance.

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