This Week in the News (October 28, 2016)

In Europe, this week was especially challenging for the recent Mediterranean migrant and refugee crisis (because, let’s face it, we can’t exactly call it a ‘European’ refugee crisis when this isn’t an exclusive European problem).

Fewer migrants, more deaths

People in need keep struggling to find their way out of conflict and crisis situations and heading towards Europe through the Mediterranean. According to The New York Times, even though the number of migrants seems to have decreased, the number of deaths hasn’t. El País points out that 2016 has even been the deadliest year of this crisis so far.

Regardless of the European Union’s increasing efforts to police the Mediterranean with the practical application of its new comprehensive approach to security – by means of the launch of a military operation not unlike the one deployed off the coast of Somalia to fight piracy, that is even to receive NATO support, according to El País – smugglers keep on smuggling while “straining the capacity of rescue services to cope,” according to the same The New York Times article.

Calais

Another widely covered and debated topic in the media this week relates also to this crisis: the dismantlement of one of Europe’s biggest refugee camps in Calais, France. Both the The Guardian and The New York Times dedicated editorial pieces to this issue. The Guardian starts the article by stating that “at last, child refugees are being rescued from the squalor and danger of the Calais camp and brought to Britain.” The piece blames both the French and British governments for the mess, arguing that the British insistence in the Dublin argument that that “asylum seekers must apply in the first safe country they reach” greatly contributed to the problem. A similar position is shown in an article by Le Figaro.

On the other hand, The New York Times blames the whole EU, stating that the Calais camp “symbolize[s] Europe’s dismal failure to cope with the waves of desperate people fleeing violence and hunger in the Middle East and Africa.” The piece not only brings attention, but also produces harsh critics to Europe’s failure in finding solutions for the mass exodus. Like The Guardian article, this editorial ends up praising the UK’s (albeit late) recent openness to receive (especially) young people. The Times did publish several articles about this topic throughout the week. As did The Guardian.

Brexit

The Brexit has also been a hot topic in the media this week, not least because of Theresa May’s leaked audio where she seemingly defends a ‘Bremain’. The newspaper Independent goes as far as calling the current British PM ‘pro-EU’. The EU Summit that took place last week, on 20 and 21 October, was the first since the Brexit referendum, which sparked intensive media coverage on May’s presence therein.

There were newspapers with positive notes on May’s performance, such as The Telegraph, with others calling it ‘awkward’, like The Guardian, and others calling the summit downright ‘hostile’, like the Evening Standard. On a similar note, according to the newspaper La Repubblica, 25% of Europeans are in favour of the UK leaving the EU once and for all.

EU-Canada trade deal

The recent hurdles that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada has gone through appear to be over, according to multiple news sources. Earlier this week, the Belgian region of Wallonia blocked the trade deal, bringing it – as The New York Times called it – ‘near collapse’.

According to Reuters, the Wallonia parliament finally voted in favour of the agreement, making it viable, as now all 28 Member States have approved it. The Wall Street Journal called into question the EU’s ability to negotiate future agreements of this type, as the TTIP has also proven to be a problematic deal. This wasn’t the only case: The Irish Times also called this delay embarrassing for the EU.

According to the Guardian, British Secretary of State Fox stated that “the difficulties over Ceta underscored the importance of the UK signing a trade deal before it leaves the EU”. An article published by the Independent indicated that the UK’s deal with Canada after the Brexit would likely be quite similar to the one just approved by the EU.

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Inês Marques Ribeiro

Research Assistant at CEI-IUL. Editorial Assistant at PJSS. Guest lecturer at ISCTE-IUL. PhD Candidate in History, Defence and IR (ISCTE-IUL); M.A. in European Political and Administrative Studies (College of Europe).

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