Can we stop pretending that this ‘New Migration and Asylum Policy’ actually exists?

I mean, come on. We’re not THAT backwards in this country, you know...

The year is 1969. The place? Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. There on the launch-pad, NASA’s Apollo 11 rocket towers 363 feet above the surrounding landscape... its three passengers (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins) awaiting nothing but a final order from Houston, to ‘lift off’ for their historical journey to the Moon.

All around the world, an unprecedented half-a-billion people huddle around their TV sets, to witness this milestone human achievement in person. And at long last, the excited hubbub gives way to awed silence... as a crackly voice commences the count-down, through television speakers across the globe:

‘10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... and...’

Nothing. There is no ‘lift-off’; no sudden roar of ignition, as the rocket burns 8,248 kg of fuel (a combination of Aerozine-50, and nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer), to break through the Earth’s atmosphere at escape velocity...

... and above all, no subsequent announcement that: ‘The Eagle has landed!’ (accompanied by those immortal images of Neil Armstrong, planting humanity’s first-ever footprint in the soft Lunar dust...)

Instead, all those half-a-billion viewers can see is that the Apollo 11 rocket is still standing in exactly the same spot, as it had been just a few moments before (with the difference that the astronauts are no longer on board; and NASA operatives have already started to dismantle all the scaffolding.)

But even as they turn to each other, in bewilderment – asking: ‘What happened? Did something go wrong?’ – the same crackly voice blares out from the speakers again:

“SUCCESS! We did it, folks! The United States of America has won the Space Race, by becoming the first nation in history to officially land a ‘man on the Moon’! (Suck on THAT, Leonid!) Yeehah! Hallelujah! God Bless America! And remember, folks! You all saw it happen, WITH YOUR OWN EYES!!”

And then, of course, the inevitable interview with the ‘man who made history’ himself: Neil Armstrong, who – very far from being ‘on the Moon’ – is actually just lounging about in his Miami hotel room (having changed his space-suit for a dressing gown, and a comfortable pair of slippers.)

“Well, what can I say?”, he begins, as he takes a sip of coffee. “This was one small step for me... and ONE GIANT LEAP, FOR ALL MANKIND!!”

Ok, by this time you will surely have realised that this is NOT what really happened, on 20 July 1969.

In fact: it’s not even what conspiracy theorists think really happened on that day, either. For while they may genuinely believe that the entire Moon landing was a ‘hoax’... they still argue that NASA ‘faked the footage’ (with a little help from Stanley Kubrick); and NOT that ‘there wasn’t even any footage, to fake’!

But back to our own, purely hypothetical conspiracy theory. What do you reckon would have happened in 1969, under the circumstances I just described? Do you think that messages of congratulations would have poured into NASA’s headquarters, from all over the world? Or that the names of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins would go on to be etched into history books, as ‘the first men on the Moon’?

In a nutshell: would the entire planet have been so easily taken in, by a hoax of such massively self-evident proportions?

Somehow, I suspect not. Somehow, I suspect that – under those circumstances – the Apollo 11 rocket scaffolding would not have been the only thing ‘dismantled’, that day. NASA itself (along with the credibility of the entire nation it represents) would also have instantaneously crumbled away to nothing, before our very eyes.

But... that was 1969. This is 2023. And, oh look: the exact same scenario seems to be unfolding, all around us – only a REAL scenario this time; not a hypothetical one – and, well, we seem to be reacting to it, in exactly the same way that the rest of the world did NOT react, to our ‘fake Moon landing’, above.

If you haven’t guessed already: I’m referring to the European Commission’s New Migration and Asylum Pact. Remember? The one that was ‘launched’ (the EC’s word, not mine) with so much fanfare, way back in September 2020 – that’s more than three years ago, folks – but which we are somehow still ‘discussing’, to this very day (with, as always, no final no agreement in sight).

But in case you’ve forgotten, by now – and who can blame you? Nothing ever came of it, in the end – this is how it was reported in the local press, at the time:

“The old system to deal with [immigration] in Europe no longer works,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Brussels.

“She said the ‘New Pact for Migration and Asylum’ offers Europe ‘a fresh start.’

“’We want to live up to our values and at the same time face the challenges of a globalized world,’ she said. ‘Europe has to move away from ad-hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system.’

“The proposals hinge on a simple idea. Members of the EU could help ease the load on those countries that have seen the most migrant arrivals by sea, like Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain, by taking in some of the refugees or providing other material and logistical support.” (The Malta Independent, 23 September, 2020)

Got that, folks? Three years ago, the European Commission somehow managed to launch a whole new migration... ‘PACT’, no less – a word which implies ‘agreement’ – even though no actual discussion, or negotiations, had even begun at that stage (still less, reached a successful conclusion.)

But no matter: Ursula von der Leyen was so utterly confident that her ‘simple’ [!] idea would work (because, of course, we all know how very ‘simple’ it is, to get 27 different countries to agree on a ‘voluntary responsibility-sharing mechanism’), that she even set a deadline for the project’s completion.

Back then, she assured us that this ‘pact’ – or ‘agreement’ – would be in place, ‘by February 2024’ (i.e., in just four months’ time).

And for a while, things even seemed to be going according to plan. The first real cry of ‘SUCCESS!’ came in April 2023: when the European Parliament approved the Migration Pact’s key regulations... including “improved criteria to determine the responsibility of member states in processing an asylum application, and FAIR SHARING OF RESPONSIBILITY.” [my emphasis].

Once again, this development was heralded as a major triumph, for the Commission’s ‘New Migration and Asylum Pact’: with the European Parliament's rapporteur for Asylum Procedures even describing the vote as “a breakthrough moment to get the asylum and migration reform in place, bringing long-term sustainable solutions that can stand the test of time."

Nor did this aura of ‘self-congratulation’ even stop there. As recently as June 8 this year, the European Council proudly announced it had taken “a decisive step towards a modernisation of the EU’s rulebook for asylum and migration. It agreed on a negotiating position on the asylum procedure regulation and on the asylum and migration management regulation. This position will form the basis of negotiations by the Council presidency with the European Parliament...”

And the European press – especially, here in Malta – were only too happy to go along for the ride. Our own headline, on 9 June, was: “EU countries claim brealthrough in migration talks” (which, to be fair, was accurate enough: they did ‘claim’ success... even if they never actually achieved any); and we were told that the most innovative element of this ‘PACT’ [that word, again] was “a system of ‘mandatory solidarity’ that will give member states three options in times of migratory pressure: 1) accept a number of relocated asylum-seekers; 2) pay for the return of rejected applicants to their country of original; 3) finance operational support, such as infrastructure and personnel.”

But, oh well. Less than three months later, a total of 11,000 migrants landed on Lampedusa, in the space of a few days – that’s more than the island’s entire population, by the way (in other words: the equivalent of 600,000, all landing in Malta at once)... and, well, what do you know?

Suddenly, the European Commission’s brave new ‘Migration and Asylum Pact’ is nowhere to be seen! All those ‘breakthroughs’ we mentioned earlier? Not one of them actually came into play, as Europe scrambled to cope with the aftermath of this latest catastrophe.

And not only that: but just two days ago, Germany became the first member state to officially opt out of this co-called ‘pact’, altogether. As the FT reported it yesterday: “The German government has suspended a voluntary agreement with Italy to take in migrants, accusing Rome of failing to live up to its obligations under the EU’s Dublin rules on asylum...” (That’s right, folks! the same ‘Dublin II’ regulations that this imaginary ‘pact’ was also supposed to reform... but clearly, never did.)

At which point, the question has to be asked. How gullible does the European Commission even think we are, anyway... if it seriously expects us to believe in the existence of any such thing as a ‘New Migration and Asylum Pact’; or – even less – that it is capable of achieving this ‘voluntary responsibility-sharing mechanism’, within just four months... when the same target has eluded the European Union for the last three years, now (and arguably, for the last two decades, at least)?

I mean, come on. We’re not THAT backwards in this country, you know...