To Remain In Europe Is To Work Towards More Integration

Brexit is echoing much louder than a warning bell. It seems like a death knell, sounding for a Europe that no longer looks to the future, that no longer knows enthusiasm. Today, Europe is surrounded, under siege. It exists in an ongoing state of emergency, amid walls, border patrols, and now a disunited British Kingdom. Europe is bereft of a future because it has renounced its founding principles, rendering them null and void in a sea of separatism. It’s the Europe of exclusion.

For this reason, we believe that the choice to remain in Europe is tied to a crucial issue: How to govern immigrant flows. To “Remain” means to include; to create opportunities for integration and seek out what “we have in common,” to use Jo Cox’s words.

To “Remain” means offering legal assistance and humanitarian corridors, and putting an end to the anachronistic separation of immigrants and refugees. “Remain” means battling the causes that drive millions of human beings to escape the hell of wars, rape, ethnic cleansing, environmental disasters, and absolute poverty.

Today, to remain in the EU means to change course, immediately.There’s no time for compromise. And, unfortunately, it must be said that the immigration proposal from the European Commission, which will be debated by heads of state and governments at this week’s EU summit, is not living up to the expectations of the historically important moment we’re all experiencing.

We are asking European leaders to act courageously in a moment that’s very delicate for the destiny of Europe as a whole.

For this reason, Oxfam, along with over 100 other non-governmental organizations, is asking European leaders to say “no” to the Commission’s proposal to adopt a foreign policy approach based on deterrence and repatriation to countries of origin. This proposal seems to be pushing the European Union’s foreign policy toward a single goal: To stop immigration, renouncing in the process the defense of human rights.

Suffice it to say that, as the documents prove, the proposal is modeled after the EU-Turkey Agreement. That’s the same agreement that has left hundreds of people, especially unaccompanied minors, abandoned in Greece under inhumane and degrading conditions, held in detention and obliged to live and sleep in prison-like structures.

Based on the proposal currently on the table, if the EU establishes an agreement that it considers effective in putting a stop to immigration, regulatory standards and protection mechanisms would be compromised. This risks violating international laws that prohibit pushing people away toward countries where basic human rights are not respected.

For these reasons, we are asking European leaders to act courageously in a moment that’s very delicate for the destiny of Europe as a whole. We ask that they recover their self-awareness and vision, and delineate a model of help and assistance that pushes for the eradication of the causes of poverty, and does not finance detention centers and repressive regimes.

This is what we are demanding of European leaders and of our Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, through our Stand As One campaign. We are calling on them to put in place a long-term strategy in order to avoid betraying a project — the European Union — that was built on the rubble of a devastating war, and to avoid opening a dark chapter in our own shared history. In the face of fear and exclusion, Brexit should be much more than a stimulus for “remaining” in the EU: We must have the courage to change.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Italy. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.

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