The photo looming large in most newspapers this morning of the boat capsizing into the Mediterranean and dunking 500 migrants is as much the EU’s fault as the traffickers’. It’s only because the expressed aim of the EU patrol vessels is the arrest of the traffickers as well as saving lives. In announcing the policy in this way EU politicians needed to save their face by giving the appearance of wanting to stop the migration.
What happened? The traffickers in north Africa promptly stopped piloting the boats — as they were doing previously in order to be able to take the boats back to Libya once they’d delivered the migrants. Some traffickers — we don’t know what proportion of them — are actually telephoning the authorities in Italy to let them know when a boat load of migrants set out.
The fact of the matter is that migration into the EU is a new business opportunity and, so far, no laws need to be broken in the migrants’ countries of origin. Human traffickers are only special cases of tourists’ agents, but the Brussels bureaucrats and the EU politicians affect not to know this and thus can’t begin to come up with pragmatic policies.