The EU lacks a credible migration policy. Mrs Merkel hijacked the EU/Turkey summit in a desperate attempt to find an answer to her immediate political problem, the arrival of too many migrants in the EU wishing to move to Germany. She is under pressure to show progress in reducing numbers, with three state elections coming up where this is now a big issue. Her idea that the EU should return all migrants to Turkey who come from there without proper papers, is to be balanced by the EU agreeing to take an equal number of Syrians from within Turkey itself to balance the Syrians it has returned to Turkey.
It would be difficult to come up with a more difficult or undesirable policy than this one. How are the authorities going to get the Syrian arrivals in Greece to comply with the wish to send them back to Turkey? Are they going to use force if the migrants refuse to comply? Is it legal to refuse to consider their asylum applications, if they do decide to claim asylum on arrival? What can be done if migrants from other places arrive in Greece from Turkey, only to claim they are Syrian and to say they have lost their papers? Could it be a perverse incentive to some in Turkey to increases the numbers of Syrians who do turn up in Greece, as that will increase the number of Syrians the EU has to take from Turkey through the approved means?
Ironically at a time when most European politicians are united in condemning Mr Trump for his wish to build a wall across the south of the USA to keep Mexican migrants out, some EU countries are busy building their own walls or barbed wire fences to close their frontiers. They clearly have flexible morals when it comes to the morality of border controls. It is also an irony that those same fences and barriers which polite opinion rejects are serving to reduce some of the immediate pressures on Germany herself, as borders to the south on routes to Germany are progressively closed by smaller states fed up with the migrant routes through their territories.
Meanwhile we are debating can the UK have her own borders policy, freed from EU membership. The UK government wishes to argue in two contradictory ways. It claims we are out of Schengen so we are not troubled in the way full EU members are. It also wishes to argue that out of the EU we would still need to take large numbers of EU migrants.So in the EU they say we are fine, but out of it we would still have to accept large numbers of migrants which suddenly in their view become more of a problem.
The truth is very simple. Out of the EU the UK can decide what controls to place on inward migration. It can police its own borders, thanks to the island location. The government has sought to argue that out of the EU the French will renounce their agreement with us over the Calais border. This is most unlikely. This is a bilateral treaty, not an EU matter. France wanted it for good reasons, which will still be true if we leave. France does not want an open border in the north with a green light to all migrants, as that would make France a big migration corridor with all the policing and social issues that raises. Were France to do the unlikely thing of rejecting a treaty that is in their interests, the UK could place restrictions on ferry and cross Channel train companies, as we do with airlines, so they do not to accept any passanger without the appropriate papers.