Rainer Münz Tomi Huhtanen Immigration Migration
Can Migration Alone Solve Europe’s Demographic Crisis?
Live-streams - Multimedia
23 Feb 2022
Loredana Teodorescu Gender Equality Immigration Migration
Women and Asylum in Europe
Her and EU - Multimedia
11 Feb 2022
Eleftheria Katsi EU-Russia Immigration Migration
The Week in 7 Questions with Daniel Fried
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
19 Nov 2021
Eleftheria Katsi Rainer Münz Immigration Migration
The Week in 7 Questions with Rainer Münz
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
15 Oct 2021
Vít Novotný Tomi Huhtanen Harald Christian Scheu Vladimír Šimoňák Immigration Migration
The Refugee Convention: Does it still matter?
Live-streams - Multimedia
14 Oct 2021
This time we bring you EPP Group Greek MEP Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou! She answer about the summer season for European tourism, migration, Turkey, Belarus, and the Transatlantic Relations, among other things.Roland Freudenstein Immigration Migration Transatlantic relations
The Week in 7 Questions with Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
28 May 2021
Long ago (35 years), on the First of January 1986, Spain and Portugal joined the European Union – the EEC as it was known back then – thereby completing the integration of Western Europe. With this accession, the 12-membered club reached a significant geographical milestone: being present in continental Africa, thanks to the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla.
With 18.5 square kilometres and 84,000 inhabitants, Ceuta has been part of Spain since 1580 and was previously part of the Portuguese crown for over 150 years. Melilla is 12.3 square kilometres, has roughly 87,000 inhabitants, and joined Spain in 1497. Since the 15th and 16th centuries, Europe has seen many changes and so have Ceuta and Melilla. The only constant has been their belonging to Spain and, therefore, to Europe.
Today, these cities present a challenge for the Union’s borders and migration policy like no other EU territory. They are the only two physical borders we have with the Sahel, one of the main origins of illegal migration and refugees, along with the Middle East. For years, tens of thousands of migrants from Western Africa have reached the EU by jumping the fence between Spain and Morocco, or swimming to the cities’ beaches. What we saw on television the past few days is nothing new to the residents of Ceuta or Melilla, nor is the accompanying blackmail from the Moroccan authorities.
For instance, every time the Moroccan government or its Monarchy have had a window of opportunity, they have used border control and migrants as leverage to obtain what they wanted, be it a more beneficial fishing agreement with the EU with respect to the shared waters with the Spanish Canary Islands, investments for Tangier harbour so it can better compete with neighbouring Spanish ports, launching political propaganda about their sovereignty over Ceuta and Melilla, or boosting their illegal occupation of Western Sahara, as was the case this time.
A few weeks ago, Brahim Ghali, leader of Frente Polisario – the liberation movement for Western Sahara – travelled to Spain from Algeria under a false identity and was hospitalised with a serious COVID-19 infection (he is 71). Upon discovering this, Morocco’s government expressed their indignation towards Spain for allowing the Sahraoui to enter the country and demanded robust action from Madrid.
When Spain explained the humanitarian reasons for keeping Ghali in the country, thousands and thousands of illegal migrants suddenly arrived at the border of Ceuta, and we saw the Moroccan police opening the gates of their fence, allowing them to go towards Spain. As a result, ten thousand people illegally entered Ceuta in just 24 hours, many among them children (who were told that they were going to watch a football game with Cristiano Ronaldo playing in Ceuta!).
Spain had to send the army to control the continuous assault on its territory in the following days and was forced to relocate hundreds of minors in the rest of the country (under international law, they cannot be returned immediately after entering the country alone). Only after a bank transfer of 30 million euros for migration control cooperation did Morocco re-establish order at the border, and the assaults ceased.
This crisis was covered more by European media because of the calm of the previous months, during which COVID-19 reduced migration flows considerably, and because of the pervasive use of minors. However, the phenomenon has existed for decades. We can expect it to continue for a long time, especially as it depends on the Moroccan government’s interests, just as it happens with Turkey and Erdoğan’s blackmail tactics.
Given this, what can Europe do against these faraway villains? Europe can do a great deal; for example, deploying Frontex agents, sending economic assistance through the Internal Security Fund, or using the Solidarity Clause. But, in order to assist Spain with these instruments, the national government has to ask for it and, for some reason, Pedro Sánchez and his socialist-populist coalition government hasn’t.
Why do we have these mechanisms at all if Member States would rather respond individually to the great challenges they face? Many of the aggressions and provocations from neighbouring countries would probably not happen if we showed unity and strength.
As in most old tales, evil takes advantage of the weaknesses of good-hearted characters, but then there is a brave hero that puts the cowardly bullies in their place. Who will that hero be for Ceuta and Melilla, for Lesbos, for Malta, for Lampedusa? Furthermore, who will become the hero for the thousands of families destroyed by human trafficking, loss of life, and poverty in their home countries?
We all know the answer: the EU could be that hero. But, in order to become it, Europe needs more competencies in various areas including migration, the ability to act quickly, and real understanding and solidarity from the Northern Member States, even if the problem seems distant to them. Let’s do what we do best: take one step after another and start by letting some of the issues of foreign affairs be decided by enhanced majorities instead of unanimity. Let us become heroes for Africa, let’s put a “happily ever after” at the end of this tale.Álvaro de la Cruz Immigration Migration North Africa
Álvaro de la Cruz
A Tale of Two Cities in Africa
27 May 2021
President Trump affected immigration more than any other policy area in the US. His policies barely impacted the population of illegal immigrants. However, Trump succeeded in severely reducing the inflow of legal immigrants on green cards. He further reduced the number of non-immigrant visas. Trump enacted these reductions in legal immigration in April 2020 in response to the recession caused by COVID-19.
Since coming to office in January 2021, the Biden administration has undertaken to restart legal immigration to help grow the US economy. It has vowed to re-instate generous refugee resettlement that has been the US norm under both Democrat and Republican presidents until 2017. The new administration’s goal is to regularise millions of illegal migrants currently in the country, a task that is fraught with political difficulties. However, Biden has, so far, maintained Trump’s restrictive policies on the Mexican border.
President Biden should use his lawful powers as president to expand legal immigration opportunities. Biden should also work with Congress to reduce the power of future presidents to again reduce lawful immigration.Immigration
Immigration According to Biden
18 Feb 2021
Vít Novotný Tomas Tobé Giorgos Koumoutsakos Immigration Migration
EU External Funding on Migration and Democracy: Synergy or Friction?
Live-streams - Multimedia
26 Jan 2021
‘New European Pact on Migration: Overcoming the Stall?’ with Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung (Germany) and Luigi Sturzo Institute (Italy).
– Luigi Estero, General Directorate for the EU, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
– Stephan Mayer, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Building and Community
– Roberta Metsola, MEP, EPP, Vice-President, EP
– Loredana Teodorescu, Head of EU and International Affairs, ILS – ModeratorLoredana Teodorescu Roberta Metsola Immigration Migration
NET@WORK Day 1 – Panel 4
Live-streams - Multimedia
25 Nov 2020
On 23 September 2020, the European Commission presented its highly anticipated New Pact on Migration and Asylum. Intended to break the legislative deadlock that the EU’s asylum policy has been facing since 2016, the set of Commission proposals includes not only new legislation on faster asylum procedures at the EU’s external border, but also a new solidarity mechanism, and policies for migration crises. A lively public discussion has erupted following the publication of the New Pact.
Will the EU member states accept the Commission’s proposals? Will prescreening of asylum applicants and a wider use of border procedures work in practice? Is the new solidarity mechanism too complex to work? To discuss these, and many other questions, the Martens Centre has the privilege to organise an online discussion with Margaritis Schinas, the European Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life.Vít Novotný Margaritis Schinas Immigration Migration
Online Event ‘The New Pact on Migration: Will the Member States Sign Up?’
Live-streams - Multimedia
14 Oct 2020
How should the migration issue be tackled from an institutional perspective? The issue of immigration represents a common, communitarian challenge, not only a challenge for particular countries. This means that the answers to this challenge must be found together, at the European level, through close cooperation between the member states and the EU institutions. Management of immigration should be organised at the European level, by the EU institutions and the member states working together. This applies to border control, the repatriation of those not granted asylum or a residence permit, and also to cooperation with third countries on migration issues.
Read the full Editorial of the June 2020 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Mikuláš Dzurinda EU Institutions EU Member States Immigration Migration
New Perspectives on Migration Policies
25 May 2020
Despite partially delivering on his threat, to ‘open the floodgates’ of migrants to Europe, Turkish President Erdoğan remains a rational, albeit undemocratic, politician. The EU should strike a new migration bargain with Turkey, one that involves the creation of a safe zone and the protection of civilians in Idlib. All this should be part of the EU’s selective political support to the Turkish government.
Turkey surprised Europe again when, according to Reuters, an anonymous Turkish official uttered the following sentence on 27 February: “All refugees, including Syrians, are now welcome to cross into the European Union.”
Unlike previous rabble-rousing Turkish statements, this one was immediately followed by action. The Turkish intelligence service began organising transportation of migrants from centres inside Turkey to the Greek border. Refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq were told that Greece would accept them on its territory. People boarded buses in the middle of the night and were taken to the border areas. At the same time, the news channel A-Haber, which belongs to President Erdoğan’s family, began advertising the news that the Greek border was open. Turkish police, coastguard and border security officials were ordered to no longer prevent migrant crossings towards Greece and Bulgaria.
The rest has already become history. February 2020 will be known as the month in which another massive migrant crisis started on the EU borders, although no-one can tell how long this one will last.
According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, preparations for the bus transfers of migrants from cities like Istanbul had been going on for days. It is not clear if the Greeks and Bulgarians knew that something was afoot. Nevertheless, they have responded well, and continue to do so, as they refuse any migrant crossings under the current conditions of extreme pressure.
We cannot exclude the idea that Turkey has deliberately targeted Greece at this moment. Just before the Turkish green light to refugees, clashes between local residents and riot police on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios were growing increasingly violent.
As is now clear, the main impetus for Turkey to engage in this ‘humanitarian aggression’ is desperation over the situation in the north-west Syrian province of Idlib where Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, have been engaged in indiscriminate killings, not distinguishing between jihadists and civilians. Turkey has a justified fear over a new wave of Syrian refugees crossing into Turkey.
Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Europe (and the West) have stood on the side-lines, without doing much to defeat Assad or to, at least, try to create peace in the country. The EU’s humanitarian efforts in the war-torn country and the painful lessons of the 2003 Iraq invasion cannot justify the bloc’s scandalous absence from any meaningful involvement in Syria. Europe has been paying the price ever since by having to face a neighbourhood that increasingly seems out of control. So far, the refugee wave of 2015-16 has been the most perceptible reminder. A new reminder is now being issued.
It is perhaps time to recognise that although we choose our friends, we do not choose our neighbours. Turkish aggression in the Mediterranean, and namely its incursions in the Greek airspace and illegal drilling in Cypriot waters, cannot be condoned. The same applies to the customary jailing and ostracism of journalists, academics and opposition politicians at home.
On the other hand, Turkey has already experienced regimes that were much worse than that of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The country is hosting the highest number of refugees in the world. If there were a no man’s land where Turkey is, there would be at least 4 million, and probably many more, refugees and migrants in the EU today. It is difficult to imagine in what state European politics would be under that scenario. Those who criticise the 2016 EU-Turkey migration deal invariably fail to answer that question.
And unlike some European NATO members, Turkey is on the right side in Libya, supporting the internationally recognised government in Tripoli. (Despite this, its maritime deal with Libya is very likely illegal.)
All this is to say that not working with the Turks is not an option. Europe, while criticising the Turkish regime on some policies, needs to lend a helping hand to others.
Despite all the recent geopolitical losses to Russia and Iran, there is still scope for meaningful European engagement in the region.
First, continuing with the business as usual is important. EU member states need to start preparing budgets for a new migration deal with Turkey after funds under the current agreement run out.
Second, as the current Turkish migration pressure is tied to the dismal humanitarian situation in the province of Idlib, the EU should strike an additional Idlib-focused bargain with Erdoğan. Persuading Russia to agree at the UN level to the creation of a safe zone with European boots on the ground, would have to be part of this agreement. A less ambitious but still effective means of protecting the local population would be the establishment of a no-fly zone, now promoted by the Netherlands.
Of course, all this should happen under the condition that Turkey has restored control on the Greek border and again, held up its end of the 2016 agreement.
When this condition has been fulfilled, European money and humanitarian assistance should be directed to the civilians in Idlib. Such European support should be tied to taming the unfortunate Turkish tendency to enlist local jihadist units in its service.
European governments need to hold up their end of the 2016 agreement as well. For example, they must resettle substantial numbers of refugees from Turkey, as foreseen by the agreement. Those EU governments that refuse resettlement may soon have to accommodate irregular migrants breaching their national borders en masse and, unlike resettled individuals, bringing along genuine security risks.
The ongoing negotiations on the EU’s long-term budget as well as the branding of the von der Leyen Commission as the geopolitical commission offer an excellent opportunity for Europe to step up its game in Syria.
Recognising that Turkey may not be a friend, but remains an ally would be the first useful step in this process.Vít Novotný Crisis EU Institutions Immigration Neighbourhood Policy
Time for a new migration bargain with Erdoğan
05 Mar 2020
When it comes to policies on irregular migration, it is sometimes courts, not parliaments, that call the shots.Vít Novotný Immigration Migration
An EU migration policy revolution from the courts?
Articles and Op-Eds - In the Media
04 Mar 2020
It is not the first time that Turkey is using civilians as human shields and tools of its foreign policy. During the Great War, the Ottoman Empire deported and exterminated a large part of its Christian population. In 1938, the Kemalist Republic followed a similar policy in Alexandretta. In September 1955, the Turkish state was behind the brutal “pogrom” against the Greek-Orthodox population of Istanbul. Two decades later, Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus and forced thousands of Cypriots into exile.
The same strategy is being used today on the Greek-Turkish border. Greece is facing an ongoing hybrid attack on land, sea and air by a so-called NATO ally. Recently, reports of cyber-attacks towards the Greek government and other sensitive sectors of the Greek state by Turkish hackers were published in the international press. In the first months of 2020, the violation and infringement of Greek airspace – with armed planes flying even over inhabited Greek islands in the Aegean – has reached new records.
The recent decision by Erdogan and his authoritarian regime to encourage and push thousands of desperate people towards the north-east Greek sea and land borders comes as a natural continuation to a series of aggressive actions taken against Greece and Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean. These actions include illegal exploration activities in the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus and the illegal Turkish-Libyan Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that openly violates Greek territorial sovereignty. In addition, reports and footage show that the movement of immigrants -including criminals detained in Turkish prisons- is being implemented with the active participation of the Turkish armed forces, police and the Turkish intelligence services (MIT).
Turkey has become a state “trafficker” that does not recoil from politicising human pain and misery, in order to make political gains. The Greek government’s rightful decision to increase the level of deterrence at its borders and temporarily suspend the asylum applications is the only possible reaction for any state intent on protecting its territory from a well organised hybrid attack.
In the last 3 days, there have been over twenty-four thousand instances of people illegally attempting to cross into Greek territory. In Evros, less than 200 were successful, in which case the intruders were immediately arrested. On Monday alone, over 1.000 arrivals were recorded on the Greek islands of the Northern Aegean. The situation is tense and a fatal accident could turn the whole situation into something that risks becoming uncontrollable.
Turkey has become a state “trafficker” that does not recoil from politicising human pain and misery, in order to make political gains.
It is more than certain that Erdogan’s regime will use fake-news and propaganda in order to attract public sympathy and portray Greece and Europe as the offenders. Turkey de facto cancelled the EU-Turkey Statement and Action Plan. Those who speak about asylum and international humanitarian law from the comfort of their office thousands of miles away from the Greek border tend to forget the geopolitical realities in the region. We are no longer talking about individuals who are escaping conflict zones. What we see is uncontrollable masses trying to reach Europe in huge numbers under the direct encouragement, guidance and facilitation of an official state actor and its services.
Greece and Europe should not succumb to Erdogan’s “Kapalıçarşı” style of bargaining. If you lie down with the devil, you will most probably find yourself in hell. Turkey tried to act as a regional superpower and now reaps what it sowed in Syria. Erdogan, in his vanity, initially supported the ISIS jihadists, then turned against the Kurds and the West. Now, after his military disaster in Syria, he is trying to exercise pressure on Europe and the West in order to save himself from the chaos he created.
Those in Europe who suggest appeasing Erdogan by sacrificing Greece’s national security should take into consideration that this is a great chance for the EU. It can show that it is a real Union with borders and common values, and that it stands ready to defend them. Today Greece is the frontline and the bastion of Europe. Beyond Greece’s borders, democracy and logic stops.
In the midst of all of this, the loud silence of many prominent politicians in European capitals is extremely worrying. Politicians once vocal about the values of European civilisation are today finding it hard to say anything to strengthen the morale of a country that, at this very moment, is defending the European way of life in practice. Apart from the three EU institutions, only Austria, the Netherlands, France, and North Macedonia have openly expressed their will to actively support the Greek forces.
For more than five years, amid a tremendous financial crisis, the Greek population has shown strong solidarity and compassion to the tragedy of all displaced people reaching Greek shores. It seems that this has changed. Local societies can no longer bear an additional influx of immigrants as in 2015. The Greek state is determined not to allow additional “Morias” (this refers to the name of a town in the island of Lesbos that hosts a by now notorious squalid camp) to be formed around the country. Instead, it is only fair that Greece’s European partners step up to the plate.
Usually polarised and divided along partisan lines, all Greeks are currently appearing united against Turkey’s plans. Greeks are determined to defend their country, and thus Europe, at any cost. There is no room for compromise in Turkey’s efforts to destabilise Greece and move forward with claims that put in question the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Greece. Europe should act in this crisis as one if it wants to be taken seriously as a ‘sovereign’, ‘strategic’ and ‘geopolitical’ actor, to use some of the slogans repeated by its leaders in recent years. There is no time for simple statements of support. Tools and manpower must be deployed in the heated zone of Greece’s borders.
 Kapalıçarşı / Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is one of the oldest, covered markets in the world.Panos Tasiopoulos Crisis European Union Human Rights Immigration
Turkish Bazaar: An asymmetrical threat to the EU
03 Mar 2020
There is a good reason not to reach straight for the panic button as a reaction to increased irregular migration flows from Turkey. Since signing the migration deal with the EU, Turkish President Erdoğan has been trying to rattle the European’s nerves with threats of a new migrant inflow. However, the EU’s position vis-à-vis Turkey is not as weak as it appears.
The Turkish government has, in fact, expressed strong interest in continued European financial support for Syrian refugees residing in Turkey. Also, the EU and Greece are better prepared for a migration crisis, than they were in 2015. The worst-case scenario of hundreds of thousands making it from Turkey to Greece is very unlikely. Even if such a scenario were to happen, the EU could unilaterally abolish its customs union with Turkey, terminate the preferential treatment for Turkish agriculture products and halt arms exports to the country. Given the undesirability of this scenario, diplomacy is a much more preferable option.European Union Foreign Policy Immigration Migration
The EU and the Prospect of a New Migration Wave from Turkey
10 Jan 2020
Irregular immigration is emerging as a threat to the political stability of the EU. This is because the EU’s asylum and immigration system has been overly tolerant towards irregular migration. Despite a dramatic decrease in the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe, the need remains to instil in the European public a sense that the EU border is properly guarded and that the number of illegal border crossings—as one aspect of irregular migration—is being reduced.
In the short to medium term, the EU should help to ensure the protection of the refugees who are hosted in other countries. The EU should resettle the most vulnerable refugees through legal channels at the expense of irregular migration movements. The EU’s external border needs to be vigilantly policed in order to increase public confidence in the EU’s migration policy. Over the long term, the EU should set itself the goal of enlarging the area of functioning migration and asylum governance.EU-US Immigration North Africa Security
Reducing Irregular Migration Flows through EU External Action
12 Mar 2019
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular (‘Migration Compact’ from now on) is an international agreement that has given rise to passions like no other recent global document. The Compact was signed in the morning of 10 December 2018 in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.
Uproar in Marrakech, quiet in New York
The text of the Migration Compact stems from The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted by the UN in 2016. This declaration was a result of decades of international efforts to bring a sense of order to global migration and refugee movements. One can look at the process started off by the New York Declaration as the first serious attempt for a global migration and refugee governance. The New York Declaration was adopted by 193 members of the UN, with no official record of dissent from any UN member.
The Migration Compact has a non-identical twin brother, the Global Compact on Refugees (Refugee Compact), also a result of the diplomatic process started off by the New York Declaration. According to an informed source, the Refugee Compact has gone through the UN structures with little dissent, with only the US expressing a certain degree of disapproval. Barring a last-minute revolution, the Refugee Compact will be agreed by the UN General Assembly in New York around 17 December 2018, a few days after the signing of the Migration Compact in Marrakech.
The Migration Compact had been negotiated by 190 UN governments. The US withdrew from the negotiations in December 2017, Hungary in July 2018. Between the summer 2018 and the beginning of December 2018, several other countries announced they would not sign the Migration Compact. In Europe, these included Czechia, Austria, Poland, Italy, Bulgaria and Latvia.
On 10 December in Marrakech, most governments in which the European People’s Party participates signed the Migration Compact. The impression is that all the governments with the EPP participation will be signing the Refugee Compact later this month.
The Migration Compact is not legally binding, and the document stresses this multiple times. Nevertheless, according to some interpretations, the document could become customary international law in the same way that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights has become.
But this remains a theoretical proposition. For a document to become a part of customary international law, its practices would have to be ‘universally followed’ and obtain ‘widespread acceptance’. In addition, customary international law contains a concept of a persistent objector. If a state consistently and openly objects to an international norm, the norm is considered as not binding on that state.
The document contains 23 objectives. Protecting human rights of migrants is a core element but so is the sovereignty of states.
The Migration Compact does contain passages that may be problematic from the centre-right viewpoint. This includes the rights of migrants working in the informal economy, as opposed to the desirable insistence on employers declaring their employees and paying their taxes. Furthermore, the tone of inclusivity and the constant emphasis on migrant rights may not be to the liking of everyone on the European centre-right.
However, most policy objectives of the Migration Compact are in line with the European Agenda on Migration as well as the European People’s Party 2018 Congress document on migration, A Secure Europe. This comprises secure borders, minimising the drivers that compel people to leave their country of origin, the identification of migrants, criminalisation of migrant smuggling, prevention of human trafficking and government cooperation on migrant returns.
With the partial boycott of the Migration Compact, we are witnessing a peculiar situation. Most of the governments that are withholding their signature have negotiated the document until the last minute. The Slovak foreign minister, Miroslav Lajčák resigned over his own Socialist-led government’s withdrawal from the Migration Compact. He had been instrumental in developing the document at the UN.
The Belgian government did sign the Migration Pact but one of the coalition partners, the Flemish N-VA, withdrew from the cabinet over the issue.
The fact that the UN Refugee Compact is not suffering the same wave of boycotts as the Migration Compact, gives us an insight into the curious world of politics of immigration in the West. The Refugee Compact might also be perceived as generating obligations on the signatory states, yet all the European UN members seem committed to signing the Refugee Compact later in December.
Whether the governments who refused to put their signature to the Migration Compact have been negotiating in good or bad faith, is not up to me to decide. Likewise, it is not up to me to decide about domestic reasons for the boycott, such as the need to polarise national and European migration debates and to temporarily improve the standing of the governments in question vis-à-vis parts of their electorate.
Attack on multilateralism and the weakening of the EU position
The bigger picture is clear. The several governments’ boycott of the Migration Compact amounts to, once again, an attack on multilateralism. The Migration Compacts lays the foundations for global cooperation on migration. It offers multiple avenues for building trust between governments, thus ultimately leading to better migration policy outcomes for the EU and its members.
Those European governments that refused to sign the Migration Compact will not be entitled to complain that third country governments do not cooperate when it comes to the registration of migrants, cooperation on border control and readmission of own nationals.
The international position of the EU is weakened accordingly. The EU is currently striving to externalise migration controls by cooperating with third countries. It is difficult to see why a European country that wants to externalise migration controls would deliberately jeopardise its position vis-à-vis potential partners.Vít Novotný European Union Globalisation Immigration Migration
Boycotting the Migration Compact: a loss of credibility for the EU
10 Dec 2018
On Thursday 28 June 2018, the European Council gave its endorsement to the concept of ‘regional disembarkation platforms’. These centres would be built in non-EU countries (presumably in North Africa) in cooperation with those countries. They would serve as facilities to which migrants rescued in the Mediterranean would be brought. Thus, a new option would be open to the EU, not to bring the rescued migrants automatically to one of the EU’s coastal member states.
This point from the Council conclusions elaborates one aspect of the broader trend to externalise EU migration controls. This trend is being promoted by the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Earlier in June, Kurz suggested sending immigrants back to the countries of transit and origin. These measures would stem mass migration and prevent drownings in the Mediterranean.
The idea of reception centres outside the EU borders has been circulating for decades now, without much tangible progress. The reason why implementing the idea has been so slow is the daunting scale of the challenge. The security, humanitarian, legal, political, diplomatic and financial aspects of the problem are multifaceted and interdependent in unexpected ways.
Agreement by a high number of institutions is necessary but the predictability of many players (national governments in and outside the EU and sub-national authorities and assorted tribal, religious and political groups in North Africa and the Middle East) is low.
Unlike Australia and the US which, each in a different way, have partly externalised migration controls, Europe is surrounded by several highly unstable regimes. Migration flows into the EU are notoriously mixed, including refugees and economic migrants from different countries. This increases the scope of the challenge that lies in front of the EU.
Main elements in externalising migration controls
The main elements in externalising immigration might be:
- significantly improved EU external border management, in cooperation with third countries
- determining asylum status of migrants as close to the country of origin as possible; this could be done at EU consulates or at reception centres set up by the EU
- guaranteeing safety, security and basic welfare in the reception centres
- encouraging voluntary returns to countries of origin
- offering (positive and negative) incentives to governments of non-EU countries, especially for accepting their own nationals
- potential resettlement of the most vulnerable individuals into the EU (resettlement means accepting selected refugees after security screening)
- decoupling of life-saving operations in the sea from bringing refugees into the EU.
Implementing these measures would herald a major step in tackling irregular migration. Thanks to common efforts, the migration crisis of three years ago is under control. No masses of refugees and migrants are crossing the Balkans into Western Europe, and the EU’s border management is now better than ever – although there is still a lot of room for improvement.
The EU is still searching for a recipe for cooperation with third countries on migration. The bloc is still struggling to mobilise finance, police the Mediterranean, agree on internal distribution of asylum seekers, implement returns and fulfil its resettlement pledges.
Develop expertise by starting small
Some EU members are conducting pilot schemes in externalising migration controls. We should look closely at, and learn from, these experiments. They promise to result in much-needed European expertise that can serve the larger goal of bringing migration controls closer to the sending countries:
- The EU-Turkey deal of 2016 should serve a major source of learning.
- In Niger, an EU-financed ‘multi-purpose centre’ in Agadez provides information and assistance to migrants, registers migrants and allows opportunities for safe and voluntary return and reintegration in the home country. Military presence has proved necessary. In January this year, the Italian government sent some 500 troops to the country to suppress migrant smuggling and exploitation.
- Also in Agadez and in other African cities, the French government has begun interviewing asylum seekers on a small scale. These individuals are typically returnees from Libya who have been pre-screened by the workers for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
- Certain EU members, for example Denmark, have been allowing asylum applications at their consulates, although only in a third country, not in a country of the asylum seeker’s origin.
The efforts conducted outside the EU borders have had a negligible influence on the numbers of people trying to cross the Mediterranean. But they send a message. Those with a credible claim have a chance of being granted asylum in the EU. Those without such a claim should not risk their lives with Libyan traffickers and smugglers.
Also, let us not forget Europe’s operations on its own territory. Italy and Greece have run, with the assistance of the EU and UNHCR, ‘hotspots’ to process asylum claims during the refugee wave of 2105-16. Evaluating this experience should be helpful in setting up similar centres outside the EU.
The Marshall Plan for Africa
Migration control always consists of carrots and sticks. A ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa, advocated, for example, by Angela Merkel, would represent the former. The existing reincarnation of this plan, the Trust Fund for Africa, has so far been inadequate. Currently worth some €3.4 billion, the Trust Fund lacks public and private funds to make a real impact. But in the long run, helping Africa prosper – also by preferential trade tariffs – would motivate its inhabitants to stay at home.
On the legal front, two alternatives offer themselves.
Legal option one: reinterpret the Refugee Convention
As one option, the EU member states may start reinterpreting the Refugee Convention of 1951. As it is individual states, not the EU, who have signed up to the Refugee Convention, a coordinated approach would be essential.
Such a reinterpretation might be along the lines of the US and Australia. Australia does not apply the Convention outside its mainland territory. The US does not apply it outside its territorial waters. Both the US and Australia intercept unauthorised vessels. They save lives even outside their territorial waters but remove migrants to remote own or third-country territories, where lives are not in danger.
The rescued individuals have a chance of obtaining asylum (in the US case, only in a third country). Australia and the US take a punitive approach to ‘spontaneous’ asylum claims launched by those who attempt to cross the sea, but, in collaboration with UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration, maintain resettlement programmes for those asylum seekers who enter through via regular channels.
Option two: encourage third countries to implement the Refugee Convention
A strategically more promising, although a much more demanding and long-term approach, would be to geographically extend the application of the Refugee Convention. With the exception of the Middle East, most countries in the immediate and distant EU neighbourhood are signatories of the Refugee Convention. Especially in North Africa though, official signatures on the Convention have not been followed up by setting up functioning asylum legislation.
The EU might incentivise these countries to adopt asylum legislation in line with their commitments under the Refugee Convention.
As one step further into the future, one can imagine the EU inducing neighbouring countries to buy into the EU’s ‘Dublin system’ of asylum seeker distribution. According to the Dublin rules, the first country of contact has responsibility for the asylum seeker who entered its territory.
Supported and co-financed by the EU, extending a similar system to Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and North Africa would spread the burden of caring for refugees across many more countries than is currently the case. This would contribute to creating a supra-regional system of refuge governance in Europe and its surroundings.Vít Novotný Crisis Immigration Migration North Africa
Externalising Migration Controls? Think Big, Start Small
29 Jun 2018
There are currently about 44 million Muslims living in Europe, out of which some 20 million live in the European Union. Precise numbers are impossible to come by. If the 20 million figure for the EU is correct, it would represent less than 4 per cent of the EU’s population.
The EU’s Muslim population is composed of two main components: autochthonous, or settled, Muslims in Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and other countries, and Muslim immigrants and their descendants who live predominantly in Western Europe.
The latter group is made up of Muslim citizens originating in former European colonies across the world, guest workers made permanent and their family members, and refugees and economic migrants who may or may not have come to the EU legally.
Islam increasingly plays a role in European politics. The uncontrolled influx of asylum seekers and migrants in the years 2015-16, one that has caused so much political upheaval, was predominantly from Muslim-majority countries.
Many, although not all, terrorist attacks in Europe in recent years have been perpetrated by individuals who claim an allegiance to Islam. And the ideology of Islamism, albeit often non-violent, poses a challenge to our liberal democratic systems. Some features of the complex relationship between the European majority society and Muslims are sometimes forgotten.
Islam does not easily fit the existing state-church relationships in the EU. Built on the hierarchical structure of Christian churches, these relationships assume the existence of a leading authority for each religious body. The European state-church relationships also assume that there is strict separation between state institutions on the one hand and religious institutions on the other.
This separation has been historically instituted to limit church influence on government. Islam is different from today’s Christianity in that the former is a religion, a basis for law and a way of life in one. This difference between Christianity and Islam does not preclude peaceful coexistence of Christians, Muslims, adherents of other religions, atheists and agnostics in Europe.
Nevertheless, incorporating Islam into the European public sphere requires innovative policymaking at the national level, one that guarantees both freedom of religion and the preservation of the European way of life.
Issues within Islam
Islam is by far not the only religion that has ever condoned violence, as the briefest look at any European history book will tell.
Nevertheless, Islam is currently facing problems in adapting to modernity, in a reversal of adaption to Western-type institutions that Muslim-majority countries in Asia and Africa experienced in the twentieth century.
Most European Muslims are normal citizens of our societies, contributing to the economy and public life.
The minority that turn to the ideology of Islamism adopt views that in the words of Thomas Volk, an author in a recent Martens Centre publication, ‘militate against democratic institutions and propagate various forms of religious and political activism, from instituting sharia law to pan-Islamic political unity and the establishment of a caliphate in Europe.’
Some young Muslims in Europe are facing a conflict of identities, being split between belonging to traditional communities of their parents and the modern secularised Western culture. Unable to identify with either of these cultures, they may adopt the radical views of violent jihadism.
The path to Islamism is aided by several unfortunate facts. Like most nominal European Christians in relation to Christianity, some European Muslims have only scant knowledge of Islam.
However, it is often Muslim religious illiterates who turn to violence. Those imams that are active in immigrant Muslim communities are often not acquainted with European culture and fundamental rights anchored in our constitutions and therefore are not in a position to provide guidance.
The Internet serves as a tool for radicalisation, propagating fundamentalist versions of Islam. Finally, a few Muslim-majority countries, for example Saudi Arabia, finance Sunni Islamic radicalism as part of their worldwide contest with the Shi’a branch Islam, and with the modern world as a whole.
The individual and collective rebellion against the ‘decadent’ majority culture becomes an attractive option not only for criminals but also for apparently well-integrated youngsters, longing to serve a life cause. This also explains that about 10 per cent of European jihadists are converts.
Religious schooling for young Muslims (one grounded in the Koran and religious teachings, in the European way of life and Europe’s constitutions), controls of the Internet and checks on foreign financing of mosques are the logical measures to be adopted by European legislators and policymakers.
The majority culture
A 2015 survey by the Pew Research Centre revealed that views of Muslim minorities in Europe depend on the country. In Italy, 63 per cent of those surveyed had an unfavourable opinion of Muslims in their country but the figure was only 33 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in France.
However, a 2017 opinion poll by Chatham House showed that an average of 55 per cent agreed with the statement that ‘all further immigration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. Longitudinal studies of European majority views of Muslims are hard to come by and we should not automatically conclude that these views on Muslims are getting worse.
Continuing secularisation complicates the acceptance by Europeans of the religious devotion and symbols associated with Islam. The belief that a strong Muslim identity undermines national identity is related to these concerns.
What is clear is that the failed management of the migrant and refugee crisis, resulting in an influx of people from Muslim-majority countries, has given voice to protest parties that politically use and even promote the popular apprehensions of Islam and Muslims. Islamists and right-wing populists end up feeding on each other, and radical discourse is making its way into the political mainstream.
Effective immigration controls, better guarding of the EU’s external border in collaboration with third countries (while adhering to universal human right standards in dealing with migrants and refugees), as well as tackling the stubborn issues of immigrant integration are among the necessary policy elements in assuring the majority that coexistence with Islam in Europe is possible.
And if European governments, political parties, civil society and religious associations succeed in forging strong national and European identities and loyalty to our constitutions, this coexistence can even be beneficial to our societies.Vít Novotný Immigration Integration Islam Religion Society
Some remarks on Islam in Europe
18 Dec 2017
The EU is facing an unprecedented challenge on its southern borders in terms of instability in the region and increased migration flows. In its search for a solution that will meet with the approval of all member states, there is a new momentum for strengthening cooperation with neighbouring countries.
The EU is increasingly turning to third countries to manage migration flows and reduce the number of irregular migrants arriving in Europe. Nevertheless, there are serious constraints on its ambition. The EU has failed to offer its cooperation partners real incentives, while member states have been reluctant to coordinate their initiatives and become involved, thus undermining EU action beyond its borders.
The result is slow progress and uncertain partnerships. It is time to address these limitations and make the EU a reliable and coherent regional actor, able to speak with one voice when addressing third countries on migration. This calls for stronger foreign policy on migration at the EU level, the deployment of a wide range of tools and incentives, and more committed member-state support for EU action.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Loredana Teodorescu Foreign Policy Immigration Migration Neighbourhood Policy Security
Ambition versus reality: partnering with our neighbours on migration
04 Jul 2017
Despite the EU’s official motto ‘United in Diversity’, the bloc is experiencing a profound crisis in which diversity is threatening to dispel unity. Instead of harmony, diversity increasingly spells conflict. A variety of factors are behind this strife, including terrorism, the uncertain position of religion in public life, the unclear situation of minority groups (including autochthonous minorities and the Roma), radical Islamism, insufficient integration of immigrants and a loss of personal status and identity due to globalisation.
These phenomena are occurring against the backdrop of the recent economic crisis, instability in Europe’s neighbourhood, and the uncontrolled influx of migrants and refugees in 2015–16. All these developments are feeding conflicts both among the member states and between the EU institutions and national governments, as well as a cultural war between globalists and identitarians that cuts across European societies.
The European People’s Party, and governments at all levels, need to engage with the ‘forgotten part’ of society without compromising on pluralism and personal freedoms. They need to promote a concept of state which allows different religious and secular opinions to thrive. They should combat extremism and, in cooperation with civil society, encourage a public culture that defends tolerance and liberty. They should promote a critical reading of the Koran.
Developing concepts of citizenship with a focus on immigrants is crucial, as is effective participation of autochthonous minorities and the Roma in public life. Taking such steps would ensure that internal and external adversity does not destroy European unity.Ethics EU Member States Immigration Religion
Unity in Adversity: Immigration, Minorities and Religion in Europe
08 Jun 2017
The idea that the left/right paradigm in politics is outdated has been around for so long that it’s amazing how often we still think in left right terms. Maybe old habits die hard. Or maybe there has always been more to the old paradigm that what the commentariat made us believe.
But according to a growing chorus of pundits in 2016, now is the time to seriously let go. The paradigm du jour is open vs. closed, global vs. territorial or, as the Economist puts it, drawbridge-downers (read Merkel, Macron and Soros) vs. drawbridge-uppers (such as Trump, Putin, Le Pen, Orbán and the UK Leave campaign). I admit that this thesis has a lot going for itself: after all, the rise of identity politics (us vs. them) and the return of nationalism are among the driving forces in the success of populists.
That would indeed speak for an entirely new paradigm. But wait: there is also a crisis-driven resentment against the market economy and international trade (traditionally, a leftist idea). Moreover, the echo chamber effect of social media reinforces any kind of polarisation, no matter whether the paradigms are old or new.
Hence, from the perspective of Europe’s biggest political family, the European People’s Party, there are three things wrong with making ‘open vs. closed’ the decisive paradigm of our days.
First of all, open/closed corroborates the populist narrative of an establishment that, no matter whether it calls itself liberal, socialist, green, Christian democratic or conservative, is united in despising the ‘little people’ and that will always act in the interests of a global elite. Now, it is simply not in the interest of big tent, catch-all political families to let this narrative become dominant: if we permit the populists to act as the party of the people vs. the elites, we risk losing.
Secondly, quite frankly, big political families such as the EPP (but also the Socialists) in their current composition neatly straddle the divide between drawbridge-uppers and drawbridge-downers. Both Angela Merkel and Horst Seehofer, her fierce critic in refugee matters (and the only one among the parties represented in the Bundestag) belong to the EPP family.
Their positions are not mutually exclusive in every respect. On the role of borders in the 20th century, the German Chancellor has already shifted her position since September 2015.
If we want to keep the overall Schengen system, we need to improve the protection of its external borders.
And from an EPP mainstream perspective, there is nothing wrong with wanting to control borders. Believing that the nation state is far from being finished is not automatically anti-globalist. But claiming that in this crisis we have a ‘rendezvous with globalisation’ essentially implies that there is nothing we can do about the masses of people trying to cross our borders, economic migrants included.
But if we want to maintain the liberal world order, we had better acknowledge the importance of identity politics. If we want to integrate a large number of people from one of the most violent and backward regions of the world, we need to be more straightforward about defending our values.
If we want to keep the overall Schengen system, we need to improve the protection of its external borders, and allow for more long term exceptions on the inner borders. To put it brutally: If we don’t do this, people will eventually elect someone who does it instead (but probably less smartly). How about some of the ‘wir schaffen das’ spirit here?
Finally, there are still substantial differences between the centre right and the Socialists as well as the Centre Right and the Greens. Left vs. right has not lost all significance! How open is ‘open’, if the ‘no border’ Greens proudly claim they have killed TTIP? How open is ‘open’ if freedom is supposed to be ensured by ever new gender quota and diversity rules?
So there are good reasons for maintaining that left/right has kept a lot of relevance, especially in an economic crisis which still pits ‘printing money’ against some degree of fiscal prudence.
So what does modern European punditry recommend, in order to fight the new battles? ‘Stronger rhetoric, bolder policies and smarter tactics’, says the Economist. That is think tank newspeak at its best. Of course, making a strong case for openness – maintaining Schengen, strengthening trade – is necessary.
But at the same time, identity politics should not under all circumstances be defined as something alien to centre right thinking. In the migration movements of today, culture matters, and we shall ignore it at our peril.
How open is ‘open’, if the ‘no border’ Greens proudly claim they have killed TTIP?
Punditry’s final punch line is the reference to demographics: young people tend to think more openly, as last witnessed in the Brexit referendum. So supposedly, it’s just a question of time until the final victory of ‘open’. That would be more credible if we could be sure that ‘generation Erasmus’ still thinks along those lines 10 and 20 years from now.
But alas, we may not be so fortunate. If the ‘progressive’ spirit of 1968 had lived on in the same form as half a century ago, conservatism would have never had the comeback it had in the 1980s.
So open vs. closed may be a useful paradigm for analyzing recent debates. But it is neither a realignment of political forces across the world, nor a useful tool to shape the strategies of Europe’s centre right.Roland Freudenstein Centre-Right Globalisation Immigration Political Parties Values
Is open/closed the new left/right? Paradigm shift and Europe’s centre right
13 Sep 2016
Most analyses of the Brexit vote agree that immigration played a major role in the outcome of the referendum. What is interesting is that, next to extra-European immigration, the British debate was equally (if not more) preoccupied with intra-EU mobility – EU citizens coming to the UK to live and work.
What can mainstream politicians in Europe learn from the British debate and the ways mobility is instrumentalised by Eurosceptics?
Populist parties have already tried to politicise intra-EU mobility in Italy and the Netherlands, and are expected to do so more pronouncedly in France and Austria.
In these (and other) old member-states, mainstream parties – especially of the centre-right – seem tempted to address free movement as a problem in need of reform. Brexit seems to send the message that this is necessary, lest populists take advantage of popular frustrations.
I believe that the lesson from the UK referendum is exactly the opposite. By accepting the politicisation of free movement, mainstream parties play upon the populists’ strategy to merge their two staple issues, immigration and Europe, and present exit from the EU as a solution to immigration.
The rise and fall of David Cameron should be a cautionary tale about tampering with intra-EU mobility, even if addressing external immigration is something centre-right parties should do.
The story begins with David Cameron’s pre-electoral promise in 2010 to reduce net immigration to the UK to the ‘tens of thousands’, a promise that came back to haunt him. Given that almost half of that net immigration is made up of EU citizens, it was inevitable that EU free movement would acquire political importance.
In the years between Cameron’s entry to power and the calling of the referendum, UKIP and Eurosceptic Tories raised the issue of benefits for EU migrants. In 2015 traditional fears with external immigration became entangled with the EU due to the refugee crisis. The Eurosceptic press reproduced ad nauseam images from Calais and explicitly linked them with EU membership.
In response to the social benefits controversy, Cameron made free movement a key aspect of his renegotiation package with the EU in 2013. In the 2015 parliamentary election campaign his implicit promise was that the threat of the referendum would extract concessions from the EU to curtail immigration from the EU. Ultimately Cameron secured mild changes in his deal with the EU that were predictably decried by the Eurosceptic right as too weak to dissuade free movement.
A few months before the renegotiation deal, Cameron had pledged to accept 20000 Syrian refugees, thus intensifying popular concerns that EU membership meant deeper entanglement of the UK in Europe’s refugee woes.
If it is true that Cameron decided to accept Syrian refugees in order to placate Angela Merkel and other Europeans to get a better deal on UK membership, it becomes obvious what kind of mess he had dug himself in with regards to mobility.
In this context, the potential for Eurosceptics to mutualise hostility towards the EU and fear of immigration in the referendum campaign was infinite. Tory Leavers claimed that with European migration reduced the UK could attract more people from the Commonwealth.
Brexiteers of the right and of the left exploited the frustrations of working class people, including many of ethnic background, by promising that reduced immigration from Europe would lighten the burden on public services.
And the populist right could for the first time sound practical when speaking about immigration. The solution was obvious and handy: leave the EU.
What does this mean for the rest of Europe? In the UK, an already difficult situation became impossible when mainstream politicians accepted that EU free movement is a subset of immigration and the sociocultural concerns usually associated with it.
The message to mainstream, and especially centre-right, politicians elsewhere in Europe is that, even if free movement does pose some practical problems, tampering with it offers very few immediate gains and many long-term risks.
For parties that campaign in favour of European integration, nitpicking on the EU legal edifice undermines their credibility. Accepting that ‘something must be done’ about free movement allows populists to present exit from the EU as a magic bullet that can solve immigration.
Calling for reform of free movement politicises and securitises internal borders, while what the EU should be aiming for is strengthening internal unity by building a more secure external border.
Pro-EU parties must delegitimise and neutralise any effort by populists to politicise intra-EU mobility and free movement. Free movement and extra-EU immigration must be presented as two very different things.
Mainstream parties must respond to popular concerns about immigration and security by stressing the need to defend and safeguard the external European border. Strengthening internal borders is inconsistent with effective management of extra-EU immigration because the latter can be effectively handled only if European states cooperate with each other.
The EU is currently perceived as too porous externally and this strengthens the instinct to retrench behind stronger national borders. But solidarity and identity in political systems is created only when there is closure externally and openness internally.
Pro-EU politicians must focus on making the EU external border safer. This is no easy task, but trying to score political points by talking about free movement as ‘immigration’ and by renationalising internal borders is naïve and dangerous.Angelos Chryssogelos Brexit Centre-Right EU Member States Euroscepticism Immigration
Confusing immigration and free movement: lessons from the Brexit case
26 Jul 2016
The mass influx of refugees and migrants into the EU since August 2015 has raised questions about the EU’s responsibility to give protection to people fleeing conflicts and poverty. The EU’s common asylum system is rooted in international legal obligations, including the Refugee Convention of 1951.
What does the Refugee Convention expect us to do? And should the existing legal commitments be rethought altogether? In attempting a global system of shared responsibility for refugees, what is the role of the EU and that of non-European countries? The Martens Centre asked NGO and policy experts to answer these and other questions pertaining to the refuge crisis during an event organised on 8 November 2016 in Brussels.
The debate brought together both supporters and opponents of the idea of setting limits on refugee numbers. Speakers disagreed about whether the international law allows the EU to legally limit the numbers of people who are granted international protection.
Christian Calliess, adviser for the European Political Strategy Centre, the European Commission’s internal think tank, stated that the main principle of the Refugee Convention is non-refoulement, not returning a refugee to a country where he faces danger. However, the Convention does not guarantee that refugees are ensured an individual asylum, nor does it guarantee the choice of country of asylum. Refugees are entitled to apply for asylum but the state in question has the right to deny asylum status.
Christian Kremer, Head of the Policy and Strategy Department of the European People’s Party brought the political perspective into the debate and mentioned that a significant percentage of European citizens are against accepting more refugees. Regarding quotas, in practice they could be implemented with refugees brought through resettlement programmes from outside the EU. He also stressed the need to distinguish between refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants and ensure European security as a priority in the process. As practical solutions, Kremer proposed the processing of asylum applications outside or at the EU external border, as well as creating safe zones outside the EU.
In disagreement with the previous two speakers, Minos Mouzourakis of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles stressed that subsidiary protection is not discretionary but follows from member states’ human rights obligations. He stated that belonging to a persecuted group does not preclude one from individually falling into the refugee status. According to Mouzourakis, the European definition of the refugee is not the most generous, even when compared with African states. In his opinion, the EU was not doing enough to match the commitment of many non-European countries to large numbers of refugees.Crisis Immigration
Do we need to rethink EU legal commitments towards refugees?
21 Jul 2016
I don’t need to quote Bill Clinton to impress the importance of economic issues within the wider EU referendum debate. A recent YouGov poll that examined motivation for voting one way or the other showed the economy at the top of the tree in terms of broad policy (albeit behind the idea of the “right to act independently, and the appropriate level of cooperation with other countries”) a finding frankly unsurprising given the level of messaging on the subject by the mainstream media, both campaigns and an alphabet soup of official bodies over the last few weeks.
Twenty-three per cent of voters polled by YouGov cited the topic as more important than any other and the online conversation has long been dominated by finance and business- related opinions. The extent of this domination however, is on the wane, as social media users increasingly find the broad subject of immigration more discussion-worthy.
Immigration, and the distinctive yet linked by many in the debate, discussion of refugees and asylum has risen in prominence since the beginning of June, to become the second most discussed motivation category within the online debate, perhaps prompted by at least two events in the last week: one hugely controversial, one tragic. Figure 1 shows the movement across these motivation areas from May to June.
Figure 2 shows how these motivation areas have tracked since the beginning of May. Lines showing trends for discussion around the economy and immigration, in relation to the wider debate on the EU referendum, clearly converge. We have not reached a tipping point in terms of prominence and it might be interesting to speculate on how long the campaign we need to run before the lines would cross, but we are certainly approaching parity.
The reasons for this are varied. As noted, social media debate does not exist in a vacuum and mainstream media and offline events have certainly helped to nudge immigration to the fore, but this trend existed before last week’s UKIP “Breaking Point” billboard and the murder of MP Jo Cox. It may be that, as both campaigns have upped the ante in the last few weeks and the debate has grown more poisonous, issues that were once the preserve of political extremes have become normalised.
We could look further at the proportion of owned content posted by each official campaign account on the subject of the economy and immigration. To what extent has the nudge become a shove? Has the dog whistle become a foghorn?
We can understand a lot more about the nature of the debate by graphing the conversation. As outlined in my previous piece on Brexit, pro-Leave campaigners have consistently generated the majority of the noise on referendum-related subjects, with this changing little since the end of March when I first measured the subject.
The first blog on the referendum showed the networked conversation in March and at the beginning of May: a vociferous, messy exchange, largely controlled by Brexiteers.
Figures 3 and 4 outline the networks if we isolate economic discussion within the referendum (3) and that about immigration (4). The differences are far from obvious, but we can see a marginally different shape to the maps. Discussion on the economy (3) is more fractured: the bulb to the right predominantly consists of pro-Leave tweeters, while the strands to the left largely pro-Remain, and there are few links (conversations) between them.
When we look more closely at the immigration map (4) we see three areas: a Leave bulb to the right, a loose cluster of Remain campaigners to the left and the Stronger In (@strongerin) neighbourhood in the centre. This, along with the tightness of the Leave community to the right shows both that this is a more combative area of the debate, given the closer links, and that the Leave side is possibly more “unified’ (or perhaps more insular) given the concentration of the community to the right.
Further points of interest come in understanding who is is more conspicuous with each neighbourhood. For example, the former Director of Strategy to the Prime Minister, Steve Hilton (@stevehiltonx) is prominent and central to the debate on the economy, but peripheral amid discourse on immigration, and vice versa for UKIP MP Douglas Carswell (@DouglasCarswell). Louise Mensch is central within both: the most influential contributor to the debate on immigration, according to this methodology, and the fourth-most on economic issues.
Further top-level analysis shows where the graph of the debate deviates from what we might expect. Dan Hannan MEP (@DanHannanMEP) for example, is found on the ‘wrong’ side of the immigration map. Algorithmically, at least, Hannan is closer to Chuka Umunna (@ChukkaUmunna) and The Independent (@independent), despite being a high profile and long-standing Eurosceptic and prominent pro-Leaver, due to his conversational connections with other influential parties in the debate. Hannan is graphed centrally on economic issues; however, closer to grassroots campaigners, deeply inside the cluster with Vote Leave (@vote_leave) at its centre.
Whilst this light scrutiny barely scratches the surface of this online dialogue, we clearly see that there is not one debate, but many pieces, clusters and neighbourhoods, dictated by topics that provide motivation to vote, influential social media users or concentrations of grassroots campaigners. Beyond this blog, we might understand micro-discussions at a local level, around TV debates, political parties or other organisations. In short, there are ways to quickly unravel this mess and isolate the areas of the discussion that best match certain messaging or targeted campaign strategy.
The relative importance of the economy or immigration to the referendum result will quickly become apparent next week, after pollsters have picked through exit polls and dissected motivation. What’s sure at this stage is that control of these conversations will go a long way to determining the outcome and, whilst online conversation is clearly not representative of the sentiment of the electorate at large, it might persuade the many undecided voters that seek guidance on polling day.
On a more personal note, any optimism I once held that the referendum could precipitate a healthy debate on Britain’s relationship with the EU, its future as an outward-looking country and its role in the wider world has long disintegrated, and the hegemony of economic and immigration-related fear in this analysis goes a long way to explaining why.
* A full explanation of the network maps is available here.
This blogpost is the first from an Ogilvy London series analysing the online EU referendum debate from a variety of angles in the weeks before the vote on June 23. You can read the original blogpost here.Gareth Ham Economy Elections EU Member States Immigration
Economy or immigration: which one tops the EU referendum debate?
23 Jun 2016
25 years after the foundation of the Visegrad Group is a good time to evaluate its role and to take a look at its current functioning within the EU. A historic goal of the group was already fulfilled, as all four states; Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are now members of the EU and NATO.
The Visegrad Group played an important role in 1998 when it strongly supported Slovakia, which was internationally isolated after the government of Vladimír Mečiar. Slovaks could thus catch up with the integration process. Later, they showed their will to grow in a regional context, but also to be credible, even if sometimes also difficult partners within the EU (particularly in the negotiations on the EU budget, or in pursuit of national interests).
The Visegrad Group did not focus only on their interests, but also responsibly took on a regional role. Its support focused on the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership countries. European integration of those countries is a long-term priority on the Visegrad group agenda. It is no secret that Slovenia has tried for a long time to become a member of this regional club. This only demonstrates the weight and prestige of the club.
Regional partnerships have a very strong tradition in Europe. Whether Benelux, Nordic cooperation or the Visegrad Group, all of them serve to strengthen the EU further. They create a balance especially between small and big countries. Every community needs such healthy tension, because it forces players to make compromises and seek the best possible solutions for the whole community.
Unfortunately, any positive result of the Visegrad Group´s cooperation is currently overshadowed by its attitude to the migration crisis. The policy endorsed by the Visegard Group on the issue rightfully raises a concern. This attitude neither solves the problem, nor does it defend the countries and their citizens, as leaders of these countries like to present.
The refugee crisis and its impact are not a short-term phenomenon. The problem will not be solved, on the contrary, it will deepen if they are not willing to listen to each other and patiently seek for a common solution from the very beginning. The consequences can be fatal for the entire community.
The attitude of the Visegrad Group portrays them as fair-weather Europeans. They do not yet have the tools to deal with bad weather. Unfortunately, this is the reality, although the reasons of this attitude can be different, from historical to mental or political.
Historically, it is well known that ethnicity was often a source of unrests in Central Europe. From a psychological point of view, the former Soviet bloc countries are still closed societies. There is a lack of education and a lack of system methods on how to integrate people from other cultures. We should not forget that these countries still have a huge problem with the integration of their Roma minority.
Thus, it is difficult to imagine and even more difficult to implement the integration of people from completely different backgrounds. However, the most likely reason for this attitude is politics.
The leaders of these countries selfishly abused the refugee crisis in order to gain political capital. Many of them have built their whole electoral campaigns and long term strategies with a sole purpose: to remain on the political scene for as long as possible. They do not struggle with the fact that, more than 25 years after the fall of communism, they have created a new enemy and they have showed their resistance to Brussels, in a manner that certainly pleases Russia.
Regarding the quotas, there has already been a lot said. The Visegrad group countries, but also others who refused the quotas system should realise the fact that it is a temporary redistribution of burden, not a long term solution for migration.
The proposed redistribution is very favourable for small countries. If they show a will to share the burden now, they will help create a space for a more conceptual, long-term solution for migration. Unfortunately, the quotas themselves put us into a vicious circle.
Instead of focusing on protecting the EU external borders and seeking solutions how to prevent further immigration waves into Europe, we have focused on how to punish those who will not accept the quotas. I believe the latest proposal of the European Commission in this regard will increase the gap among EU countries.
We all know we have a problem. The question is, where should we start tackling it from? Firstly, we should respond to three basic questions: Do we want to remain in the European club? What kind of club do we want? Are we willing to invest in this club? If so, it’s time for a compromise.
The older members should listen more and try to understand the arguments of the new member states. I know that reconciling the heterogeneous interests of a large community is difficult, but this is the only way to keep the EU project alive. It is also important to show political will and initiative on the part of small and new members.
Slovakia taking over the rotating Presidency of the EU this July is a good timing to do just this. They have an excellent opportunity to come up with solutions on migration issues and to build wide EU support for them. Denouncing and rejecting proposals is not a sustainable strategy: we must show that we are not only recipients of EU policies, but also initiators and contributors.
Former Soviet bloc countries should inherently insist on maintaining a common European future. Regional cooperation is good and necessary; it can be meaningful and beneficial but only when its enforcement is not only regional, but also European. We should not forget that countries like France and Germany will cope with crises more rapidly than the rest of Europe. Small states near Russia however could quickly find themselves back to where they once were. I do hope that this will not be the case.Viktória Jančošeková EU Member States Immigration Leadership Migration
Visegrad at 25: time to show European leadership
08 Jun 2016
Both the US and Europe are grappling with migration systems in need of reform and repair. The US has made several attempts towards a comprehensive reform of its immigration system, but partisan divides stand in the way. With large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers coming to Europe, EU leaders have been forced to address the broken Dublin system. It has become clear that the current refugee crisis is not just a European crisis. The US has also been facing a humanitarian crisis, one less noticed by Europeans.
With an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors trying to make their way to the US from Central American countries, the US, like Europe, is tasked with balancing humanitarian protection and border control requirements. In response, the US has employed policy responses to bring down the number of unaccompanied minors. These measures can provide insights for Europe.
Read the full FREE article published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Astrid Ziebarth EU-US Immigration Migration
Broken systems: the 2014 humanitarian crisis in the US and policy insights for Europe
25 Nov 2015
HOW TO SEE THE REFUGEE CRISIS
We are in a time of war, war not in Europe itself, but close enough to Europe to have led to massive outflows of refugees across borders and into Europe. I heard this described at the EPP Congress in Madrid as the “most serious crisis for the European Union since its creation”. This is not an exaggeration. This refugee crisis is on a scale unprecedented since the Second World War and the Spanish Civil war, because this is a war, in Syria and Iraq, of a ferocity and intensity not seen since then. 300,000 people have been killed in the Syrian War. Most of these people are not coming to Europe for economic reasons, or because they are on a mission of any kind, but because they are in fear of their lives. They are seeking refuge. They are the human embodiment of the price of war. Their plight is a human manifestation of what the voluntary European Union was created to avoid in Europe itself: war.
A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: UNITY OF SOME KIND IN EUROPE HAS BEEN THE RULE, NOT THE EXCEPTION OVER THE PAST 2500 YEARS
If the EU is facing its most serious crisis ever, it is important that we keep a sense of historical perspective. Only thus can we realise how much is at stake. Over the past 2500 years, Europe has tried various methods to create internal security on this continent. The idea of European political unity of some kind is not something new. It was achieved, initially by force, in the form of the original Roman Empire.
Because it was created by force, its unity also had to be maintained, from time to time, by force. When it came to an end there was a dramatic collapse in living conditions, because Roman money, as a continent wide means of exchange, and access to silver to make it, was lost. Living standards in Britain, for example, fell dramatically in the 5th Century AD. There are lessons in this story for the 21st century.
Later, from the Middle Ages up to the Reformation, there was a form of unity in Europe when, apart from his religious role, the Pope exercised, without the use of military sanctions, a role of arbiter between European states, analogous to that of the European Court of Justice, combined with elements of that of the United Nations. Even after the Reformation and the Thirty Years War, a form of unity in part of central Europe persisted in the continuance of the Holy Roman Empire, until, after 100 years, that was dissolved by Napoleon, who attempted to impose his own form of secular European unity by force of arms.
1815 TO 1950: THE SHORT AND BLOODY ERA OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY
When Napoleon failed at Waterloo in 1815, Europe entered the era on nation states, supposedly based on absolute national sovereignty and the balance of power. That era ended, after a mere 150 years, in the holocaust of two world wars, the last of which was preceded by an economic crash and the collapse of democracy across the continent.
1950 TO DATE: THE RETURN TO UNITY AS THE GOAL OF EUROPE
In response to that failure, something entirely new was attempted, a union of European states held together not by military force, or even by religious sanction, but by a free and voluntary pooling of sovereignty, based on freely agreed rules. That in the European Union of today. There is much to criticise about the EU, and I will voice some myself this morning, but we should not lose sight of the bigger picture.
The Union has attracted a stream of new member states, starting with 6, and which has now reached 28. Other federal unions and confederations, in other parts of the world, have not had that experience. It has created a single market of 500 million consumers, although some barriers still remain.
2008: ANOTHER ECONOMIC CRISIS, BUT NO RETURN TO PROTECTIONISM, DICTATORSHIP OR WAR
The EU has come through an economic collapse in Europe, similar to the one that occurred in the 1930’s, but , in contrast to the 1930’s democracy has been preserved in Europe, protectionism and competitive devaluation have been avoided, and, most importantly, European states are still at peace with one another.
2015: AN UNPRECEDENTED AND UNEXPECTED REFUGEE CRISIS
Now, just as it has begun to put in place a banking union to underpin its currency, and fiscal rules to ensure that this generation does not rob the next by excess borrowing, it now faces a challenge for which it seems quite unprepared, a flood of refugees fleeing war in their own countrie (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea) and impossible living conditions in the countries in which they originally sought refuge (Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey) who have so many refugees they cannot cope with them. 70% of Turks say the 20 million Syrians in their midst should go home.
In an ideal world, one would say that this refugee crisis is a global one and all the countries of the world should come together to receive them on a shared basis. But this is not going to happen. They are heading for Europe.
Controls on the movement of people across Europe’s external borders, notably between Greece and Turkey, have broken down. As a result of that failure, barriers are now being re erected between countries within the EU, undermining one of the freedoms on which the EU is based, freedom of movement of people. If this persists, one could see it leading to interference with the freedom to move goods across Europe too. This is an existential challenge.
But a pooling of sovereignty can only work if states are able and willing to exercise the sovereign powers they have, one of which is controlling their portion of the EU,’s external border. So the next step will be a major EU border force, and EU reception centres where those who qualify as refugees can be separated from those who do not and the latter sent home.
Those who are refugees will need to be shared among all 28 EU states, which will not be easy as living standards vary within the EU and refugees themselves will all want to go to the more prosperous states. That said, I believe a majority of them will want to go home to their own countries if peace can be restored.
2008 TO DATE: THE EU WAS TOO SLOW APPLYING THE LESSONS OF THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
Meanwhile the EU is moving too slowly in applying the lessons of the financial crisis. Most money in use is not coins or notes, but bank credit of one kind or another. So a currency union without a banking union never made sense.
We have some elements of a banking union now, a single supervisor for most European Bank and a common EU rule for winding up banks. But these have not been tested yet. That test will come when the EU has to close down a bank in a member state, imposing losses on shareholders bond holders and even customers. Will the EU authorities have the political capital to do that?
It will be particularly hard to do because Germany has resisted the idea of a common euro are wide deposit insurance system which would spread the losses. The burden will fall solely on the country in which the bank is being closed down. That is not politically viable….an EU institution closing down a bank, which it had supervised, in a state and that state alone bearing the depositor insurance costs.
There also may be problems with the Fiscal Rules designed to reduce the debt levels of EU states. These debts are just about bearable now, but if interest rates returned to normal levels, what would happen. For example, the proposed Italian budget for next year, which should be reducing the deficit, is actually increasing it. That may make sense in the context of Italian politics, but it undermines the rules, in the same way that France and Germany undermined the rules 10 years ago.
Europe does not need to create a complete political or economic union to solve these problems. That is politically impossible. But the European Union does needs to come to a shared pragmatic understanding on all of these problems, and think out a long term plan that serves the interests of a very diverse group of countries in a fair and speedy way.
MEANWHILE, THE EU MUST DEAL WITH THE UK PROBLEM
At a time when the EU is grappling with its own existential issues, it has the deal with one member state which wants to reconsider whether it should be in the EU at all or not. I will not say much about the details of the UK case, and will just make a few brief points.
- At a time when Polish and Baltic state populations are being asked to accept refugees to relieve the pressure on Italy, Greece and Germany, it will not be easy to persuade them that their citizens should have less “in work” social benefits in Britain than locals enjoy, when Britain is exempt from taking any refugees because it opted out of the Schengen system
- If Britain wants to be exempt from paying any of the costs of future EU banking failures, it is hard to grant it a veto over rules that might be designed to prevent such failures
- On the other hand, British demands for a speedy conclusion of the TTIP agreement with the US, and for a completion of, the long delayed, EU single Digital and Services markets, are a big opportunity for Europe. They should be grasped with both hands.
The challenges that the EU must meet today
26 Oct 2015
This paper contends that, contrary to the prevailing opinion, the EU is highly relevant to the issues of ethics and religion. Although policy matters should be dealt with at the lowest possible level, some are best dealt with by a common approach at the EU level of decision-making.
In examining areas such as ethics and the economy, human rights, multiculturalism and the relationship with the Orthodox churches, the paper applies the tests of subsidiarity and centre and centre-right values.
It also looks at areas that represent ‘unfinished business’ for the European People’s Party (EPP), including socio-economic and socio-cultural questions and the notions of social market. The author argues that member states and member parties of the EPP should lead the debate on ethics, values and religion.
Within the atmosphere of pluralism, dialogue and tolerance, the EPP should continuously cherish its Christian roots and values while responding to the economic, social and cultural realities of the day. The party should also leave enough room for those that belong to non Christian religions and have other beliefs and convictions.Christian Democracy Immigration Religion
Ethics and Religion: What’s the EU Got to Do with It?
07 Oct 2015
Now that the wrangling about quotas for refugees among the member states of the Union is over (for the time being), and Europe is more focused on regaining control of our external borders, it’s time to look at some of the more long term questions concerning our identity.
Most of Europe’s leaders agree that the current wave of migrants coming to Europe will change our societies. Some express fears (that Europe will lose its Christian identity), others hope (that more diversity will make us more tolerant, less nationalist, more open). Others are simply skeptical whether the sudden influx will be easy to manage without bringing our societies near breaking point.
Let me first deal with two notions that I reject. The first one claims that the sheer fact that migrants come from a different culture and embrace a different faith, will put European civilisation in jeopardy. The other one says that a massive influx of people from other cultures automatically makes us better people because diversity is always good: the more multicultural our identity, the better we will become. Both notions are deeply mistaken.
The fatalists claiming that European civilisation has now signed its own death warrant, might want to take a look at examples of successful integration in counter-intuitive places, such as the Vietnamese in the Czech Republic whose second generation is melting beautifully into Czech society. They are neither white, nor to any significant extent Christian.
But on the other hand, the starry-eyed multiculturalists have a hard time defending the growth of parallel societies, in which the central values of our constitutions (equal rights for men and women, freedom of expression and faith etc.) are systematically disregarded: in places like Parisian suburbs, parts of Birmingham or Berlin-Neukoelln.
All this brings us to the central long term challenge of the current wave of refugees, many of whom are here to stay for a long time: Integration. Looking back at different European strategies over the past five decades, none can be called fully successful. That has many reasons, but one of them is that too often, efforts to effectively integrate migrants have not been made, either because we denied that we are facing (and for demographic reasons, even need) immigration, or because insisting on values was somehow smacking of Western imperialism.
It’s time to take a fresh look. Germany’s debate in recent weeks shows that. Germans continue to be more than willing to shelter those whose lives are threatened. But integration has become one of the hottest topics of German politics, thanks to the refugees. A whole group of politicians from the CDU and the Greens is now openly talking about migrants’ obligation to integrate. As wobbly as it sounds, and as hard as it is to enforce this, it will nevertheless have to become an indispensable part of ‘Willkommenskultur’.
Public administration, social services, schools and civil society: they will all have to incorporate a much stronger emphasis on the central values of Western societies when dealing with migrants. This has to happen from day one of the asylum application process. Material success must be clearly and openly linked to successful integration. That means improving access to the labour market as much as a more intensive effort to explain our constitutions and the rights and obligations of citizens. Countries like Canada, Australia or the United States have some useful lessons ready. We should not be shy to use what is applicable to Europe, while knowing full well that we cannot copy 100 %.
Angela Merkel’s ‘Wir schaffen das’ (We’ll manage) should not only refer to the immediate challenge of sheltering hundreds of thousands of people. It should also refer to the challenge of integrating many of them into a modern, open society. The stakes are enormous: if we manage this, the reward will be a younger population, possibly even a completely new link to Middle Eastern countries, as we already have forged new links to Turkey and the Western Balkans in recent decades.
But if we fail, this could still ruin social cohesion, and bring Europe down for good. The question is not whether Europe in 20 years will have fewer Christians and more Muslims. The question is whether we will still be an open society. If that is what we want to be, we need to get serious about integration now.Roland Freudenstein Immigration Integration Migration Social Policy Values
Who do we want to be in 20 years? European identity and the refugee crisis
01 Oct 2015
Although populist radical right (PRR) parties have been on the rise since approximately the mid-1990s, the elections to the European Parliament in May 2014 were the most telling mark of their success. Parties such as the National Front (Front National, FN) in France, the UK Independence Party in Britain and the Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) in Denmark all attracted about 25 % of the votes and became the biggest parties within their respective countries.
They were not the only ones. The Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid) in the Netherlands, The Finns (Perussuomalaiset) in Finland, and the Freedom Party of Austria (Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs, FPÖ) were also reasonably successful during the European elections. The day after the elections, various media outlets were talking about a ‘political earthquake’.
What is going on in Western European democracies? Where has this upsurge of PRR parties come from? Before it is possible to answer these questions, it is of vital importance to carefully define what we are talking about when we employ the label ‘populist radical right’. Which parties belong to the PRR party family and why.
Read the full FREE article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Matthijs Rooduijn Euroscepticism Globalisation Immigration Populism
The rise of the populist radical right in Western Europe
08 Sep 2015
340.000 recorded migrants crossed Europe’s border between January and June 2015: an unprecedented number for the EU. Conflicts and repression are raging in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea, Yemen with a level of intensity that current EU defence, development and humanitarian mechanisms simply cannot cope with.
Europe is left with simultaneous challenges: ensuring control of our borders, maintaining societal stability, honouring our values and living up to binding international commitments to help refugees.
In the short term, that means protecting the Schengen perimeter by fighting smugglers more aggressively and preventing terrorist infiltrations. This defensive boost could materialise in three ways:
 Common Standards for Border Management as legal chaos reigns today;
 Frontex, Europe’s border management Agency, should be allowed to initiate return missions and not just stick to operational assistance;
 A European System of Border Guards should be created, targeting sensitive spots where flows are not manageable by Member States.
Listing those technical points, one still feels overwhelmed by the amplitude of the catastrophe. Those refugees bring up the best of our instincts but also the worst. If those negative reactions prevail over our values of humanity and solidarity, then we have lost the battle to the radical groups who are responsible for this horror. Refugees should therefore be rescued, bearing in mind also that some will have to be returned. Europe faces dire political and economic challenges, in addition to investing in more forceful civil-military responses to the ongoing conflicts.
Leaving the big politics for later, we will now list civil society initiatives across the continent that demonstrate the values Europe is built upon. We used the internet and our own contacts all over the EU and found a lot of venues to help. They are obviously many more out there:
- Germany: Refugees Welcome Initiative
- Iceland: Icelanders call for more refugees
- Slovakia: Who Will Help?, a Slovak Initiative to accommodate refugees with help of 1,000 volunteers
- United Kingdom: Home for Refugees
- Czech Republic: Organisation for Help to Refugees
- Denmark: Danish Refugee Council
- Hungary: Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary and Migration Help Hungary
- Malta: ADITUS and MOAS
- Italy: Italian Jesuit Service for Refugees
- France: Le Forum des Refugies
- Norway: Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers
- Belgium: Serve the City
- Poland: Fundacion Estera
[Photo: Haeferl, Wikimedia]Michael Benhamou Pavlina Pavlova EU Member States Immigration Migration Values
More Europe, Less Egoism: European civil society to the rescue in the migrant crisis
04 Sep 2015
The failure of multiculturalism has been declared by many. Yet few have come up with alternatives to how Europe’s ethnic and religious groups can co-exist in our liberal democracies. This InFocus argues that Europe can benefit from the genuine desire that many immigrants have, to identify with the constitutions of their new home countries while maintaining elements of their own culture.
European and national policymakers should elaborate on the existing concept of multiculturalism, and they could learn from the US and Canadian approaches to integration. Europe’s centre-right political parties have a particular role not only in opening politics to immigrants and their descendants but also in forging strong national and European allegiances that are compatible with group belonging.
The jihadist terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen in early 2015 starkly reminded us that not all is well with the integration of Muslims into European societies. Paradoxically, the public demonstrations in France that followed the attacks injected a degree of optimism into European public life. These moving and encouraging public displays demonstrated beyond doubt that France continues to be a country of liberty. The 3.7 million people who were on the streets also proved, in their support for tolerance and freedom of speech, that liberal democracy is not dead.
Nevertheless, if anyone still had doubts, European liberal democracy is facing a number of external and internal tests. Among them are dealing with group identities and with jihadist terrorism, as these identities’ extreme manifestation. Positively dealing with group belonging is a precondition to tackling the wider challenge, to create a sense of common purpose at the difficult times that Europe is experiencing.
IN FOCUS is a new series of commentaries in which the Martens Centre looks closely at current policy topics, dissects the available evidence and challenges prevailing opinions.Centre-Right Immigration Integration Society Values
Politics of Identity: What Next after Multiculturalism
26 May 2015
With the increasing terror threat in Europe, even politicians from mainstream parties are beginning to toy with the idea of reintroducing national border checks inside the Schengen Area. This area consists of 26 European countries that have agreed to abolish internal border controls. ‘Schengen’ includes the so-called ‘compensatory measures’ that take into account the interests of the signatory governments and incorporate the Schengen Information System, better judicial cooperation, a common visa policy and controls at the external borders.
Unfortunately, responding to the terror attacks in Paris in January 2015, certain politicians have called for national borders being gradually reintroduced. In some cases, policy proposals may just be using sloppy language; in other cases there is an intention to go back to the old days.
For example, there has been talk of ‘strengthening of border security with targeted controls’. Under the current Schengen regime, national authorities are allowed to conduct routine police checks on their territory but are not allowed to undertake border controls, except for strictly limited periods of time. Executing police authority inside a member state is a country’s duty. Imposing ‘targeted controls’ could mean a return to border checks, a highly questionable move.
There has also been talk about introducing ‘internal border checks’. The existing Schengen Border Code states that ‘internal borders may be crossed at any point without a border check on persons being carried out.’ Schengen rules are exactly about that, about NOT requesting travellers’ documentation on the internal borders. ‘Internal border checks’ would thus abolish the main pillar of Schengen. The complex architecture of Schengen rules would simply collapse – there would not be much ‘Schengen’ left.
Another phrase that has appeared is ‘an intelligent use of the ‘Schengen internal control mechanism’. The problem is that there is no such thing as a Schengen internal control mechanism.’ If this were to mean a better sharing of data within the Schengen Information System or better judicial cooperation, that would help to catch suspected terrorists. But if this were to mean internal border checks, it would be a move contrary to the letter and spirit of the Lisbon Treaty.
Schengen is not some ‘naïve’ project that has simply abolished internal borders controls. Schengen consists also of many measures which could help us in fighting terrorism. For example, police cooperation, judicial cooperation in criminal matters, control of firearms, guarding and policing the external border of the Schengen Area and a better operation of the Schengen Information System could all help in identifying and tracking suspects. All these activities can be made to operate better, without internal borders in Europe being reinstated. As a related point, including Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen Area would help in tackling terrorism as the sophisticated internal Schengen rules would have to be applied by these countries.
So rather than introducing new legislation, let us make better use of our existing rules and let us invite Romania and Bulgarian to join Schengen. That way we would do a better job in preventing further deaths in Europe. And if we come to a conclusion that the Schengen Border Code needs to be amended, preserving the legality of controls will be extremely important.
It has been said many times before but it is worth repeating: Islamic jihad and other forms of terrorism have succeeded when they have made us curtail our rights and liberties. Let us not make the terrorists’ ‘job’ any easier.
(with thanks to an anonymous reviewer)Vít Novotný European Union Extremism Foreign Policy Immigration
Europe’s Passport-Free Zone Needs to Remain Free
25 Feb 2015
In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris between 7 and 9 January 2015, Marine Le Pen, head of France’s Front National, made several statements. She was right to blame Islamic fundamentalism as an ideology that inspired the terrorists. But most of her responses to the attacks deserve to be refuted.
Firstly, on the day following the murders at Charlie Hebdo headquarters, Le Pen suggested a referendum on the death penalty in France. She would introduce this referendum if she were to be elected as French president in 2017. Secondly – and she was not the only European populist to do so – she seized on Paris attack by targeting European immigration policies. Specifically, she stated that President Hollande should suspend French membership in the Schengen Agreement. This Agreement governs the functioning of a visa-free zone of people on the territories of its European signatories.
Le Pen’s proposals are not only populist, they are also ineffective. A return to death penalty would bring France’s law closer to countries with whose political systems Le Pen probably would not want to be associated, such as Syria. And the record of the death penalty in preventing crime is more than questionable.
[Photo source: www.lemonde.fr]
The suggestion that France should suspend its membership in Schengen is even more absurd. The perpetrators of the terrorist attacks, the Kouachi brothers and Ahmed Coulibaly, were French citizens born in France. They learned the terrorist trade not in the countries that their parents originated from, that is Algeria and Senegal. Instead, these terrorists were trained in Yemen and Syria, countries where they had no family connections. They did not require Schengen visas to be able to commit terrorism. Withdrawing from the Schengen Agreement thus would not contribute in the slightest to preventing similar attacks in the future. And linking terrorism to immigration would mean focusing on the wrong factor, thus wasting precious resources in tackling terrorism.
On a more general level, it’s not clear how changes in immigration policies would help in tackling jihadist violence on Europe’s soil. Improving cooperation among our secret services, monitoring suspects and defeating ISIS seem like much more effective policies. When it comes to immigrants or people with an immigrant ancestry, the real policy challenge in front of us is the integration of these people into society.
The 3.7 million of people who demonstrated in support of tolerance and free speech after the Paris attacks, demonstrated that liberal democracy is not dead in Europe. If our liberal democratic systems are to survive, we must not wreck them by annihilating our freedoms. We must also be much more confident in our efforts to integrate immigrants and their children in European society.Vít Novotný European Union Immigration Values
The Paris terror attacks should not influence EU immigration policies
15 Jan 2015
David Cameron has staked much of his credibility as prime minister and leader of the British Conservative Party on a quixotic crusade to achieve ‘reform’ of the European Union.
Under pressure from a surging UKIP and the increasingly vocal eurosceptic wing of his own party, Cameron has repeatedly staked out a position supporting British membership of a reformed Europe. On 10 November, speaking at the Confederation of British Industry Conference, Cameron declared that the EU ‘isn’t working properly for us at the moment. That is why we need to make changes’.
Having promised EU reform, Cameron must deliver. Failure to do so will significantly weaken his already tenuous position. And yet, success seems unlikely. A sizeable number of his internal opponents are already preparing for a push against his leadership or defection to UKIP.
Rather than picking winnable reform issues, Cameron’s issues of choice are unlikely to produce success: he has attacked the principle of the free movement of people and roundly criticised the single currency. It is notable that these two issues are central to UKIP’s political narrative. As with his campaign against Juncker’s Commission Presidency over the summer, Cameron appears to have gambled his reputation on yet another unwinnable fight.
Failure to achieve a win on EU reform will likely force Cameron to back a UK exit from the EU, any other position would be hugely inconsistent with current rhetoric. The split on the European issue that this would, almost certainly, incite within the Conservative party ranks would all but destroy Cameron’s chances of re-election. The signs of such a potential rift are already apparent with public rifts between MEPs Sajjad Karim and Daniel Hannan as well as between Conservative elder statesmen former Prime Minister John Major and former Treasury Secretary Ken Clarke MP. In such a context it is hard to see UK voters choosing to remain in the EU if given the choice by plebiscite. The short sightedness of the British Conservative party could well ruin their re-election chances and force a UK exit of the EU.
With every successive electoral victory, UKIP’s advocacy of leaving the EU gains significant momentum in the UK, a country that has always had a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards its continental neighbours. And it is becoming increasingly hard to differentiate this position from that advocated by some members of the Conservative backbenches and its delegation to the European Parliament. This makes Cameron’s promises of reform all the more pertinent. It is advocacy of continued membership in a reformed EU that differentiates the Conservative position from that of UKIP and which, at least partly, keeps the party together on the issue of Europe which has so often divided their ranks.
Again and again, European leaders have ruled out compromise on the issue of ‘free movement’. Barroso, Juncker and Merkel have been vociferous in ruling out granting UK exceptions on one of the European common market’s fundamental four freedoms. Cameron’s resolute stand on this issue flies in the face of all empiric evidence. A recent University College London study showed that Britain directly benefited from EU immigration to the tune of €6.25 billion net. British Defence Secretary and Conservative MP, Michael Fallon has said that British towns are ‘swamped’ and ‘feel under siege’ from ‘large numbers of migrant workers’. Migration from EU states to Britain may be rising but is far outstripped by non-EU immigration, particularly from countries once colonised by the vast British Empire. At the same time, UK migration to other EU countries almost perfectly equates to the number of EU citizens in the UK. Neither Cameron nor UKIP are keen to speak about what will happen to them if their anti-EU immigration crusade bears fruit.
By continuing to conflate issues of EU and non-EU immigration and blaming resultant, exaggerated, issues on the EU rather than Britain’s own colonial past, they are essentially pandering to UKIP’s narrative and the xenophobic element of British society that it has ignited. This strategy serves to polarise British society, divide the Conservative party and hands the political initiative to UKIP. Without a change in approach, Cameron is gifting UKIP with electoral success as seen in Heywood & Middleton and now in Rochester & Strood.
Lacking a degree of cohesion in their argument, Cameron’s position is that the UK should be part of the single market but does not want any of political addendums. However, the ‘free movement of people’, thereby the free movement of labour, is a fundamental aspect of the single market. From the very beginning this principle has been a central goal of the European communities. There is virtually no chance that Cameron can win this fight. Yet, he shows no sign of backing off.
On his critique of the Eurozone, the UK has already achieved an effective exemption from joining the single currency. Whereas members of the EU are technically obligated to strive towards joining the single currency, the UK has been allowed pursue a different path without interference from its fellow member states. It is hard to see a UK government being able to push significant reform on a currency union it has so proudly kept out of. Out of its own choice, it simply does not have a voice at the table.
Cameron’s reactionary tactics in response to the surge in UKIP support are dangerous, for his own leadership, for Britain and for Europe. His chosen fights are unwinnable. Rather than targeting achievable reforms, Cameron is publicly working at undermining central tenets of European unity which will not be acceptable to other member states. He is destined to lose these fights, alienating his own electoral base and potential allies in Europe, and thereby hand a victory to UKIP who will use Cameron’s failure on reform as proof of their mantra that the EU is unreformable and that the UK would be better off out.Eoin O’Driscoll EU Member States Euroscepticism Immigration
Cruising for a bruising: Cameron’s European dilemma
27 Nov 2014
In 2004 ten new members from Central and Eastern Europe joined the EU. At the time member states were concerned about the potential of the free movement of people from these countries to seriously undermine their economies by increasing unemployment and reducing wages. How would labour markets support the millions of new workers expected to arrive from the new states? To protect workers against the arrival of cheap labour, the majority of member states restricted labour market access. Ireland, Sweden and the UK were the only member states to allow unrestricted access from 2004 on.
One decade later and it is clear that the free movement of workers to Ireland has had a hugely beneficial impact on the economy and Irish society generally. Census figures show that in 2002 there were just 4000 Poles in Ireland but by 2010 this number had jumped to 120,000. The Poles have officially become the largest non-Irish group in the country. The census shows a similar trend for non-Irish residents from other 2004 accession states such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In fact the Irish census figures record a steady increase in inward migration from both European and non-European countries in recent years. Surprisingly this trend does not appear to be changing in spite of the significant economic difficulties Ireland is experiencing.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Poland’s accession to the EU the Polish Embassy in Ireland released a video, entitled ‘Thank You Ireland’, in April 2014. The video thanks the Irish people for their ‘openness and kindness’ towards Poles in Ireland over the last decade. Many of the young Polish workers that came to Ireland immediately after accession have remained. They have become part of rural and urban communities across the island. Their children have been born in Ireland and attend local schools. They have joined local sport clubs and formed theatre groups. Increasing numbers of Polish people have opened businesses in Ireland; from the obligatory ‘polski sklep’ selling Polish groceries to hairdressers, garages, beauty salons, computer and software businesses. Ireland will have a local election later this month and there are many non-Irish candidates, standing as independents or as members of Irish political parties.
Ireland has always been a self-proclaimed emigration nation. In a recent address Taoiseach Enda Kenny told his audience that there are 70 million Irish abroad. In the last 20 years Ireland has had to transition from a predominantly emigration nation to one that welcomes immigrants. To counter populist and Eurosceptic arguments we must continue to support this societal transition. As we get closer to the European elections and are increasingly being bombarded with negative immigration messages from groups such as UKIP, it is important to highlight the positive integration message from Ireland. There are examples from across the EU that the free movement of people, a core tenet of our Union, is a success story and will continue to remain one in the years ahead.
[Photo source: flickr.com]Kathryn O’Donovan Eastern Europe Economy Enlargment EU Member States Immigration
‘Thank you Ireland’: A Success of Free Movement in the EU
13 May 2014
It’s said that security is indivisible. But to the same extent that security cannot be subdivided, threats to security can be reduced to smaller units and analysed individually. This collection of articles subjects security – inevitably a central, existential concern for every state, nation and individual – to a somewhat more multifaceted treatment. The aim of this collection is to provide a new impulse for stronger cooperation. Particularly noteworthy is that the book brings together a wide variety of European voices pursuing a common goal. This sounds very optimistic and also necessary, as we cannot afford long and cumbersome processes, especially in the field of security policy. Threats and crises have the capacity to hit us with sudden inevitability, as the civil war in Libya has demonstrated. We must be able to act at the moment of crisis, not only later. Preference is given to a proactive security policy that is focused on avoiding all crises and military conflicts from the outset. Thus, this collection of ideas is being published at the right time. We are in dire need of a broad debate on the future of European Common Security and Defence Policy that brings together as many clever thinkers as possible. The following pages are well suited to acting as a starting point for such a debate.Defence Immigration Security
Conservative Foreign and Security Policy
18 Dec 2012
Improving the political integration of immigrants is an important task for the European Union. The number of people with an immigrant background in the EU is gradually rising, a trend that is expected to continue. As a result, immigrants and their descendants are likely to play an increasingly significant role in the political life of Member States, as well as at the European level. Nevertheless, political parties in the EU seem to have neglected this phenomenon. Immigrants from third countries and their descendants rarely appear as party members; party leaders at the local, regional, national and EU levels; or as paid officials or candidates. Political parties should therefore consider more carefully the political potential of immigrants and their descendants.Immigration Integration Migration Political Parties
Migrating towards Participation: Immigrants and their Descendants in the Political Process
01 Nov 2012
A consensus is emerging across Europe that the EU needs a much more effective and coordinated maritime border control policy, enabling national and EU law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies to work more closely in tackling emerging threats and challenges concerning irregular migration. Policymakers stress that more effective border controls and maritime security depend both on new equipment and enhanced operational capabilities, as well as on achieving tighter cooperation and interoperability between maritime players within each nation and in coordination with EU agencies.
For the first time, almost all nations now agree that the maritime environment must become a controlled one, similar to air space. This represents a substantial shift in thinking. Migratory pressures on the southern European border pose a tremendous challenge to European policymakers. So far, the development and strengthening of the EU bordermanagement strategy has been framed at the official level as a key policy priority on the EU agenda.
The EU has managed to construct the first generation of Integrated Border Management (IBM). This includes a common codification of the acquis on internal and external borders, the Schengen Borders Code; the creation of Frontex, an EU agency tasked with coordinating operational cooperation between Member States in the field of border security; and a commonly agreed definition of what IBM means at a European level.
The EU model of border management defines Frontex as the main institutional actor in charge of putting the integrated and global paradigm into practice. Frontex encapsulates the need to have a common European approach and to promote European solidarity in addressing the challenge of irregular migration.Immigration Mediterranean Migration
Addressing Irregular Migration in the Mediterranean
01 Jul 2012
Voting in the ’Hood, a study of immigrant voting behavior, is based on an Internet poll addressed to immigrants in Finland and one-on-one interviews, to recognize the challenges and driving forces behind the movers and shakers in different communities, and to increase political participation as a step towards better social integration. This project was meant to discover possible obstacles to voting amongst immigrants, and to ask our new Finns about their interest in taking part in the next election, and their feedback about the political process to the National Coalition PartyDemocracy Elections Immigration Political Parties Society
Voting in the Hood
18 May 2012
Migration into the EU and the integration of immigrants are matters that will be decisive for the future of Europe. Debates on these issues have been taking place at all levels within European society and government. These debates have also been held within the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and are playing a prominent role in many election campaigns. This has strengthened the need for knowledge to be shared about national approaches in the EU context and for policy-oriented research from a centre-right perspective. The Centre for European Studies (CES), the political foundation of the EPP and its Member Foundations, has therefore created this in-depth study of immigration and integration policies in countries across the EU. This book, the first produced by a European political foundation in cooperation with its member organisations, covers thirteen EU countries and one region, as well as the EU itself. It offers policy recommendations for the EU and its Member States. Its aim is to assist experts, politicians and other stakeholders with the adjustment of immigration and integration policies so that they are suitable for twenty-first century Europe.EU Member States European Union Immigration Social Policy Society
Opening the Door? Immigration and Integration in the European Union
09 Jan 2012
Immigration into the EU and the integration of those who have immigrated constitute two multifaceted and highly complex policy areas. These topics feature prominently in current political debates, which have been taking place at all levels within European society and government. These debates have also been held within the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and are playing a prominent role in many election campaigns. There has been a need to illuminate the ongoing debate on immigration and integration, inform national and European policies, and highlight areas of EU-wide importance. The Centre for European Studies (CES), the political foundation of the EPP and its member foundations, has therefore created the book “Opening the Door? Immigration and Integration in the European Union”, which was published in January 2012. Written by 24 academics and policy experts, this book covers 13 EU countries and one region, as well as the EU itself. Most of the authors of these country and region chapters were appointed by CES member foundations; the remaining authors were appointed by the CES. The authors and their appointing foundations are listed in the Appendix. This Policy Brief is entirely based on this book. It consists of two parts, Analysis and Policy Recommendations.European People's Party Immigration Society
Immigration and Integration in the European Union
01 Jan 2012
The aim of this paper is to contribute to a balanced and consistent EU policy on Muslim immigrants. It pleads for creative and open approaches to the needs of both Muslims and society as a whole; for state cooperation with Islamic organisations; and for establishing schools of Islamic theology at European universities, staffed by Islamic theologians who can develop their thinking in a European context and communicate that to other imams. The paper also emphasises the need for realistic information about Islam and Muslims living in European societies.Immigration Islam Religion
Dialogue with Islam: Facing the Challenge of Muslim Integration in France, Netherlands and Germany
01 Sep 2010