POINT OF VIEW. Unequal fraternity in the European family

Fraternity is the third term of our republican motto. It is also, in principle, one of the cardinal values ​​of the European Union, built to put an end to the fratricidal wars which have bloodied our Old Continent. Yet, both in France and in Europe, fraternity is often more wishful thinking than reality. The fate of the 12,000 refugees from the Greek island of Lesbos after the Moria camp fire shows this sadly. After the emotion and the signs of solidarity, the European nations did not rush to welcome the victims on their soil, if not in small quantities. If Angela Merkel announced that Germany would receive 1,500 refugees on its soil, France would be satisfied with 100 to 150 children. The Netherlands will also open its door to 100 refugees, including fifty children, but this number will fall within the quota of 500 refugees hosted by the country per year. Only ten countries will share the reception of 400 children. Austria, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Sweden have indicated that they will not host anyone…

Fraternity is therefore not equal in Europe. We have known this since the Dublin agreements, which turned to the disadvantage of the countries of “entry” of migrants. Greece, Italy and Malta have found that their European partners prefer newcomers to stay where they have arrived. Attempts to establish a distribution system have failed. The result was, in Italy, the political rise of a Matteo Salvini, carried by the fed up of the inhabitants confronted with migrants in excess of the capacities of integration.

The Pope’s call

This question of brotherhood put to the test of the refugee question preoccupies the Pope. François intervened on several occasions to tell Europeans that they had to become more involved in this area, without being heard. The Pope, however, persists. He will initial, on October 3, the eve of Saint Francis, in Assisi, his third encyclical, which should have the title Fratelli tutti – “All brothers”. This pontifical support will be very useful to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who has announced that she wants to put an end to the injustice of the Dublin agreements, in order to organize real European solidarity. Time is running out, because fraternity, as we have known since the dawn of time, can turn sour, and even fratricide. The brothers, we do not choose them. We can love them, support them, but also forget them and even hate them …

Europe is like those families where we look at each other like a faience: everyone counts their money and we ruminate on old grudges. These families are not the best equipped to face adversity. However, the future that the prolongation of the pandemic for at least eighteen months and the economic crisis into which we have plunged with the health measures taken to stop the first wave let us foresee is very worrying. If Europe has been able to unite to revive its economy, under the Franco-German impetus, it remains to do the same to repair, as quickly as possible, the fraternity which is falling apart (this does not only concern refugees, but the various forms of poverty which are worsening). Ms. Merkel is showing the way, we would like Emmanuel Macron – and others – not to just look at her with a smile … Otherwise, the supporters of the status quo will prevail, and it will be disastrous for the future.

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