BBC Watchdog: Brits are a nation of counterfeiters, after a study by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport found 30% of items tested for fakes came back to auction houses as genuine. The fake replicas all tested were “on sale” at UK auction houses – so not only do they pose a risk to unsuspecting shoppers but also put individual sellers’ livelihoods at risk. Any legal action taken against the sellers would have to be passed on to those online auction houses. [Eds: please see correction below]
Counterfeit migrants are making the perilous journey up through the Alps, and many are migrating into the EU through Italy. There has been a 63% rise in arrivals in just the first quarter of this year. More of these migrants, who came in to Germany in 2015 as a result of the violence and oppression in Syria, have recently travelled down through the Balkans, crossing the Adriatic and lying low for many months in these Italian islands. And due to an effective legal scheme in which Italy requires all EU member states to send back any asylum-seeker from another member country it seems many migrants are choosing to settle in Italy instead.
Italy has a robust immigration policy and its migrant reception facilities are comfortable and fairly decent. It also, to its credit, is turning back migrants who it claims are economic migrants and then deporting them to their home countries. Its efforts to turn away refugees fleeing war and persecution are admirable and correct. But more is also needed.
EU and national immigration and asylum policies have failed to properly control migrant movements across Europe. When countries reach the limit of how many asylum seekers they can accept without exposing them to dangerous boat crossings and falling migrant numbers, they will use boat crossings as a default solution. The sea route from Turkey to Greece and from Libya to Italy is too short, too risky and too slow for any meaningful effective control. And the methods used to return asylum seekers into the hands of their home countries are largely illegal. As a result, more migrants are coming to the EU via Italy, taking their chances with smugglers in the hopes of a better outcome.
To stop this trend, EU countries must renegotiate their asylum and legal migration policies and find a better balance. Integration for young migrants is also a necessary part of this process, since many of the youngsters make the choice to risk their lives on the perilous journey. In countries like Germany, Austria and Denmark integration opportunities exist, but in countries like Italy these opportunities are often not available. Migration and resettlement is a positive measure. But while policymakers are keen to convince the public about the benefits of this form of migration, they should first accept the proven fact that unless we do something soon we will never meet this challenge. And the problem will grow worse if the number of migrants continues to rise.
The government has promised to give a “greener Brexit” but there is no clarity on what this should entail. There has been some progress, but it is not as expansive as that promised. On Saturday Prime Minister Theresa May vowed to increase the number of renewable energy generators to help with the shortfall. Is there some sensible middle ground between threatening to punish the very companies that will pay a high price for supplying the power we need to remain in the EU – and cutting them off? The only alternative is to rely on coal or nuclear power plants, which would pose a huge environmental cost and create serious supply and environmental problems in the UK.
We have made some inroads in limiting the scope for immigration and more can be done. We must also continue to urge EU countries to do more in helping migrants from the south. The European asylum system can work but needs a badly needed overhaul. [Eds: please see correction above]