A man was killed yesterday during a mass attack as at least 1500 people attempted to board trucks entering the Eurotunnel in Calais. This brings the death toll in the ongoing crisis, which began in June, to nine.
Eurotunnel, the operator, has invested heavily in security fences and personnel at the French end of the Tunnel but it is clearly not enough and they are swamped, daily, as would-be immigrants try to get into the UK.
The crisis has caused reduction in the frequency of freight trains through the Tunnel. Around Dover, the UK terminal, motorways have been closed for weeks as trucks waiting to depart for Europe are parked on them in what is called ‘Operation Stack’.
With the motorways closed, small towns and villages, whose roads are not designed for this weight of traffic, are jammed with cars seeking a way round the blockage. Businesses are reporting a catastrophic drop in revenue.
On the French side, large numbers of extra police and security have been drafted in to the Pas de Calais area to try to secure it, but they are manifestly failing.
While closure of the Tunnel is a drastic option, it may be the only one left. The situation, already catastrophic, can only get worse.
Placing the burden of cross-channel travel on the ferries would overload them, leading to severe delays and grave economic damage. It would also mean that the ferry terminals, unquestionably, would themselves come under siege. There is no easy answer to this.
The Tunnel is a magnet for illegal immigrants, most of whom do not understand its nature and think they can just walk through. Groups of up to a hundred have already been apprehended, on many occasions, trying to do this.
Most, however, attempt to secrete themselves on freight vehicles. This was the cause of yesterday’s death, as the man, believed to be Sudanese, was crushed under a truck.
Across Europe now, the immigration crisis is in full fury. A significant number of immigrants may be refugees from war, but the vast majority also have economic intentions. It’s not possible to separate these out. If you have been forced off your land by military action and seek to go somewhere you think you can find work, does that make you a refugee or an economic migrant or both?
Added to the refugees from Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East and Asia, there are huge problems in Sudan, Ethiopia and across Africa. As Climate Change devastates this area with drought and famine, further territorial and ethnic warfare must inevitably break out, leading to exponentially-increasing levels of migration.
Europe is the target. Its soft underbelly, the long southern coastline, has already been ripped open, and this will get markedly worse. Italy is already submerging under the pressure, Greece can no longer police its islands and rows are breaking out between the other Balkan states because of the flow of migrants passing through them.
Europe is not a federal state. It is a loose confederation of independent states, bound together by treaty. There is no administration that could raise or divert resources that might deal with this. There is no centralised military command that could plan strategies and execute them. There is no unitary political control.
Yet while Greece is a frontline state in this crisis, Germany has deliberately pauperised it in order to teach a ‘lesson’ to Spain, Italy and France. How is it going to pay for its own defence now? And as for the other states on the front line, Italy is under similar economic pressure to cut spending when in fact, Europe needs it to spend on its defences. The same is true of Spain and even France.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed: Germany is guilty of arranging the Euro to suit its own ends; it can’t be allowed to manipulate this crisis to its advantage as well. It is fundamentally illogical and unfair to suggest that the southern European states, already burdened because of the Euro, should foot the astronomical bill that defending northern states from migration will cost. Make no mistake: the migrants are not coming to enjoy Florentine culture, see the Parthenon or sunbathe on the Costa Brava, but to travel to Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and the UK to get jobs.
The solution is manifold: vastly increased security forces in the frontline states to turn back or arrest illegal immigrants; detention and holding camps located near the point of entry; repatriation programmes and huge aid budgets to help the repatriated to live decent lives in their home territories, which in turn will probably require the deployment of military forces to secure these areas. This engagement would necessarily be open-ended.
The whole of Europe will have to bear the economic burden of this, which will be vast, but the greatest net contributors must be the wealthy northern states. Germany, along with the others, will have to cough up.
The freedom that Europeans enjoy is now under threat from events distant from its shores. Fortress Europe will have to be built, quickly, and it will cost a great deal of money. We are all going to be less free. This is inevitable. The Channel Tunnel crisis is not an isolated shower, it is the presage of a coming storm. The only way we can soften its impact is to take action now.
The UK and Ireland, with their semi-detached status, might have some hope of holding on for longer, but that must mean the closure of the Channel Tunnel as well ass the imposition of severe restrictions and much increased security on other forms of transport. This will impact the south of England heavily.
The people who live in these islands cannot escape the storm that has already begun; the question for them is whether they think that they can weather it better with their European partners or alone. Either way is going to be expensive and painful.
Also published on Medium.