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Background

What’s New(s) – Deaths at Europe’s borders

Écrit par sur 1 juillet 2022

What’s New(s) ? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

After a period of relative media quietness, the border passing at Melilla grabbed the European headlines again this week, when over 20 migrants died in what Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called ‘a violent assault on the border fence’.

How did European media react to this tragic event ?

At least 23 migrants died last week in an attempt to reach Melilla enclave. According to Ashifa Kassam, the Guardian, NGOs say the toll could be as high as 37. According to el País almost 2000 migrants tried to break into border control and 113 of them made it to Spain, where they were detained for health reasons. Apparently, the police were ill-equipped for this and only 16 agents were displayed at the border to stop the attempt, writes El Mundo. La Vanguardia published exclusive footage of two days before the incident, where police and migrants had a brutal fight close to the border. The lack of accountability of the Moroccan police is worrying several human right organisations in Spain; Cadena Ser denounced how the Moroccan police wanted to bury the dead corpses without carrying out a formal investigation.

And how did Spanish and European institutions react to such a display of violence in the backyard of an EU country?

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez defended the action by stating that the “security staff was defending national integrity” highlighted by France 24. Camille Gijs, POLITICO, predicts that the words of the Prime Minister will fuel a new Spanish coalition fissure, after hearing the first critical voices within UNIDAS PODEMOS accusing the Prime Minister of not being tough enough on Moroccan police. While the Commission stayed surprisingly silent during the first hours of the tragedy, the President of the EU Council stated that “We totally support Spain and all countries on the frontline protecting the EU’s borders.” According to Deutsche Welle, the German Government asked the European Commission to clarify what happened in Melilla. A few hours after the incident it was leaked, as reported by several Spanish media, that the NATO summit being held this week in Madrid will include the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla under its protection umbrella.

But then moving on to the other side of the ocean, since the US grabbed the attention of all media worldwide this week after the US supreme court ruling. How did European media write about the controversial move?

Mostly, with horror. “A matter of life and death” headlined the Guardian. “Major blow to abortion rights” and a “major victory for anti-abortion advocates who have crusaded against Roe for decades” summarised Financial Times. In its article “Why this day was a landmark in the history of the country?”, the BBC wrote that millions of women will now loose access to abortion, predicted the news outlet, overturning half a century of women’s rights, added Spanish outlet El País. Dutch newspaper NRC mainly points to the disproportionate influence of conservative Catholics as a driver behind the decision. Conservative Catholics played a special role in ending almost fifty years of free choice for women, concluded the newspaper, and they will continue to have a proportionate say with 7 out of 9 judges being catholic, and 5 of them being ultra conservative. “Trump’s judges have triumphed” added Der Spiegel. The Guardian predicted that the conservative post-Roe landscape might also have consequences for the rights of other social groups. “I’m very afraid” is how the newspaper summarised the sentiment among same-sex-couples. “How will this end?” asked Der Spiegel with pessimism.

And does the decision also have consequences in Europe, what do the media predict ?

Well, probably not much for the moment. Most European leaders were voicing dismay and outrage about the U.S. supreme court decision, which is just the latest development that has left Europeans bewildered about the deep political polarization and political climate in the U.S., wrote the newspaper. “Women’s rights are threatened. We must defend them resolutely”, stated German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The European Union is however certainly not universally in favour of abortion rights, underlined POLITICO however. Poland recently adopted a near total ban on abortion, and also Malta, where abortion is completely banned, just recently came under criticism after the US woman was denied abortion while suffering a partial miscarriage, according to the Times of Malta. According to the Washington Post, advocates around the world, including in Europe, expressed concern that the U.S. decision could fuel movements to roll back access elsewhere. A network of ultra-Christian, anti-abortion and far-right organisations is building momentum in its quest to influence abortion policy in Europe, wrote the Guardian recently in light of the US developments. It is referring to the ‘Political Network of Values’ and ‘Agenda Europe network’, seeking to replicate anti-choice policies from the US.

Presentation : Nadine Vermeulen


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