Europe Dithers in Face of Unprecedented Wave of Migrants


An unprecedented wave of migrants has headed for the European Union’s promised shores over the past week, with 10,000 people making the trip. Hundreds — nobody knows how many — have disappeared into the warming waters of the Mediterranean, including 41 migrants reported dead Thursday after a shipwreck.

Amid these scenes of desperation, none of the 28 nations from the world’s wealthiest trade bloc has pledged a single ship, a single plane or a single cent to add to the rescue efforts. With the spring crossing season kicking off, the EU has no relevant legislation in the works, and no emergency meeting on the agenda.

Instead, the EU says it will unveil a migration agenda for discussions by the end of May and draw up a report by next winter.

The 28 EU nations have long argued about how to share the burden that migration places on the continent. Italy, Greece and tiny Malta are bearing the brunt of the influx. Other countries are doing less. Many EU nations are mired in economic crisis, facing a growing anti-foreigner electorate.

According to the U.N.’s refugee agency, 219,000 refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean last year, and at least 3,500 died trying. The numbers crossing in the first two months of 2015 were already up by a third over the previous year.