Updated to take in this year’s catastrophes, Carr’s book provides ammunition against those who would stoke our fears
The UN’s International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, drafted in 1990, says migrant workers should be allowed the same benefits and guarantees (health and safety, overtime rates, holidays etc) as nationals from the state they are working in. It is instructive to look at the list of countries that have signed and ratified it. But, as Matthew Carr points out in this very necessary book, no European country has signed it yet; indeed, you won’t find many developed countries on the list at all. I can spot Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey; that seems to be about it.
The epigraph to Fortress Europe is from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick: “In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without passport, whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.” Which remains the paradigm to this day: if you’re wealthy, in relative terms, and have the right papers, not only can you travel anywhere, but you can settle there, too. If you’re not: forget it. You will be at the mercy of governments’ most atavistic, protectionist and chauvinist attitudes.