Since the 13th October until the 26th the EU Council, under the Italian presidency, has launched a Joint Police Operation aimed at
“weakening the capacity of organized crime groups to facilitate illegal immigration to the EU and will be focusing on illegal border crossing. Another goal of this operation is to collect information, for intelligence and investigation purposes, regarding the main routes followed by migrants to enter in the common area and the modus operandi used by crime networks to smuggle people towards the EU territory, focusing also on the secondary movements.”
This quotation is extracted from an official document delivered by the Council of the EU available in this link: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2014/sep/eu-council-2014-07-10-11671-mos-maioum-jpo.pdf
The whole operation is called “Mos Maiorum” (literally ‘according to the customs of the ancients’) and 25 of the EU Member States have adhered to it. They were invited to mobilise national funds to cover the costs of the operation at national level. Interestingly, education, health and other basic areas of human life are continuously under attack and do not receive the same amount of ‘financial’ attention in Europe today.
But apart that, I wonder what European citizens think about this joint operation… I am personally very concerned. Does this mean that the EU is trying to create a common European identity around issues of racial segregation and discrimination? Because obviously it seems that there is a common agreement around this issue, whilst other issues of real concern gather much less consensus among the Member States.
I also wonder if civil society believes that the goals of this operation are to fight against organised crime, as it is stated in the document cited above. Personally what I read in between lines is that the real purpose of it is to find and deport illegal human beings (categorised as ‘immigrants’) that live within the Fortress Europe boarders.
The manipulation of human needs such as security, access to job and minimum life standards is common practice in many European countries today. Right wing and populist parties successfully manage to gather folk’s support around issues where people feel threatened about. For instance immigration is often associated with lack of job opportunities and other. But apparently this trend to discriminate and violate basic human rights of immigrant people permeates the entire European community at all institutional levels, as this joint operation lets us understand.
Another aspect to consider is the target of the operation in relation to its objectives. I mean, it is quite unbelievable that the EU Council aims to fight organised crime groups who facilitate illegal immigration by capturing its victims in first place. With the tools and channels available nowadays I am quite sure that the EU would be much more successful to fight against these groups otherwise. Indeed the illegal human beings that are being persecuted right now in Europe are victims of a system that is based on the exploitation and demeaning of the weakest groups in society, and the system itself works to create these groups that are then used as scapegoats of all sorts of problems.
On the other hand there is the question on how will the police identify these illegal human beings. The obvious answer is: based on common stereotypes and prejudices associated with the category ‘immigrant’. Try to come up with a list yourself… I prefer not to reinforce the category, yet I am sure that physical appearance, location (are we still living in an era of housing and geographical segregation?!), age and other random characteristics will be used.
Finally I want to address the issues of normalisation of discrimination and segregation. I was simply astonished while reading the document issued by the EU Council. Why? Because it was so normal! Due to its characteristics I thought that it could have been a type of document I would have written myself in the framework of my work as a project manager. It has clear goals and objectives, precise dates, defines participants, how to subscribe the joint operation (there is even the e-mail), how and when to report. It is dangerously normal. Is this the way illegal human beings and the issues around their permanence in Europe are being dealt with? With such simplicity and pragmatism?!
We need to be honest and assume that this situation is a huge human rights problem, it is not a simple matter to be addressed with such a banal document that treats the subject and people as if they were a project to be implemented. The illegal human beings that live in Europe today are not here because they want and like, they are forced by circumstances and historical reasons to leave their countries. Many of them are asylum seekers who have flee their countries escaping from oppression and persecution. All of them are just like me and you, people searching for a better life.
It is time that Europe, who considers itself to be so advanced in what concerns human rights, to start to address the real problems behind illegal immigration. These are much wider and complex. It is time to address the real dudes at the top of the chain, not civil society members who are just victims of a system hard to change, since we all are so comfortably assisting to what is going on (but are we aware about the real dynamics, about the power that counts?). It is just too comfortable to be here and just say that all our problems come from other human beings that we define as illegal. But what does it mean to be an illegal human being? Is this even possible? Why then are we at this point at this historical moment? And most importantly:
“What can we do to end racism, segregation, discrimination and ultimately the idea of ‘illegal human beings’?”
 While the EU Commission and FRONTEX deny their involvement in this joint operation I wonder if the different organs and bodies of the EU can claim to be so independent. I believe that there should be a certain degree of mutual responsibility and co-dependency and therefore verification if certain actions (as this joint operation) are valid or are indeed violating the founding values of the EU.
Guide for Joint Police Operations: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=ST%2016825%202010%20INIT
Opinions and reactions:
More news on immigration in the EU: http://www.theguardian.com/world/series/fortress-europe