We are watching the death of open frontiers in Europe

It is so confusing that you have Muslims brothers just miles away, yet they run thousands of miles to non-Muslim countries.

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The extraordinary aerial photo of a column of refugees and migrants tramping through the fields of Slovenia may come to symbolise the moment the EU began to fall apart. The irony can be lost on no one: it was in order to prevent such scenes happening again in continental Europe that the alliance was forged in the first place in the late 1950s. Yet here we are more than half a century later facing the prospect of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – of displaced people freezing and starving in the grasslands of eastern Europe as winter closes in.

It is hard to comprehend the stupefying naivety of those, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who thought it a good idea to send out an utterly self-serving signal a few weeks ago inviting anyone who could make the journey to head for Europe. This was ostensibly aimed at Syrians who had fled the civil war in their homeland; but the exodus has been swelled by migrants from many other countries looking for a better life – and who can blame them?

Only they are not going to get a better life. Arguably a transit centre in Europe might be preferable to a refugee camp in Jordan or Turkey, though the latter at least has the merit of being close to Syria, where there are finally tentative signs ofsome political progress being made. But having encouraged people to move, the Europeans are now pulling up the drawbridge because they have found dealing with the influx overwhelming. Where were the preparations? Why were fleets of buses and trains and boats not laid on at the borders of the EU to bring people safely to Germany, which is, after all, where most people are headed?

 

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