Debate Magazine

Something Worth Haggling Over.

Posted on the 16 October 2015 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

From the BBC:
EU states have approved an action plan for Turkey, which it is hoped will ease the flow of migrants to Europe.
Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far this year, many of them traveling from Turkey to Greece before seeking to head north. Turkey made a number of demands in exchange for helping to stem the flow…
Turkey had also asked for €3bn (£2.2bn, $3.4bn) in aid, something German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU states were considering.

1. From Turkey's point of view, they have to hold out for at least as much as it costs to put up tents and camps for all these people, something the Turks are apparently very good at. The short term cost is knowable, the long term cost could be much lower or zero, depending on how well the people integrate.
2. From European countries' point of view (unless you are insane like Angela Merkel), each 'asylum seeker' has a known short term cost for food and accommodation, but the long term cost is unknowable. Some of them will integrate, work hard and contribute to society (thus being a benefit rather than a cost) but an unknown number will be terrorists, criminals or slackers. It is very difficult to estimate the overall cost of the last three categories, and you can't put a price on 'social cohesion'.
3. Suffice to say, the price Turkey needs to be paid to keep one person is much lower than the (potential) cost to European countries of one such person. As long as the price paid is somewhere between those two, then both parties to the deal have made a profit.
4. So we do the two calculations and I don't think that Turkey is being overly greedy:
a) There are about two million people in their camps. £2.2 billion divided by 2 million is only £1,100 per person, which doesn't seem like much to me, even if it's payable yearly not just a one-off.
b) From the UK's point of view, let's assume one-quarter of the 600,000 trying to get to Europe end up here = 150,000 and we have to pay a quarter of the £2.2 billion cost, that's £3.700 each. That's a lot, lot cheaper than processing an asylum claim. That's a tiny fraction of what it costs us if somebody turns out to be a terrorist, criminal or slacker.
It cost £2 million to get rid of Abu Qatada and pay his family welfare. There only need to be a few dozen bad apples among our 150,000 and that's burned straight through our one-quarter of £2.2 billion.
Yes, we will lose a few genuine hard workers who have no interest in stirring up tensions, but so what?
Looking at it this way, if I were Turkey, I'd hold out for a bit more, a bit like Colonel Gaddafi tried (and failed).

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