The EU and Immigration Policies: Cracks in the Walls of Fortress Europe?

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With parliamentary elections fast approaching, the EU leadership wants its constituents to believe that the refugee crisis that has been roiling the European Union for the past four years is essentially over. September , when thousands of Germans volunteered to welcome the arriving refugees, seems eons away. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, EU member states have built over 1, kilometers of border walls, with seven countries erecting new barriers within the past three years.

In those three years, the European consensus on migration has continuously shifted to the right. The debate over migration proved a decisive factor in the Brexit referendum as well as in subsequent elections that brought to power right-wing coalitions in Austria and Italy. However, now more than ever, European policymakers have to find a sustainable solution to the issue of migration that goes deeper than fences and barbed wire. Despite still staggering death rates, European authorities are making the passage of refugees ever more dangerous.

Although refugee numbers to Europe have declined starkly, over 2, people died en route to Europe in However, neighboring European countries continue to close down remaining loopholes allowing passage into Europe. EU policy is increasingly catering to its most vociferous members. Only recently, the European Union ended the naval rescue missions associated with Operation Sophia. While Italy has spent millions training, equipping, and funding the Libyan coast guard, it turns a blind eye to what happens once the boats return to Libya.

There, refugees are often detained in inhumane conditions without access to medical care, the outside world, and any legal means of challenging their imprisonment. With little regard to the human rights fallout, the European Union attempts to keep potential migrants in their homes by making aid to source countries conditional on stringent migration controls. As a consequence, migrants have almost no legal means of applying for asylum in Europe.

Immigration skeptics, under the guise of humanitarian concerns, claim that cracking down on refugee rights reduces incentives for migration and thus prevents dangerous voyages across the Mediterranean. However, this argument presents a false dichotomy. The European Union can facilitate a safe and effective way for those deserving of asylum to get to Europe by dramatically increasing humanitarian and work-related visas for immigrants. Currently, over 35 percent of short stay visa applications are denied for migrants from conflict-ridden countries such as Syria or Iraq; the European Union has yet to institute a EU Humanitarian Visa program.

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Europe lacks many of these elements of resilience and is thus more vulnerable to the destructive forces of populist anti-immigration campaigns. A more rapidly aging society is resistant to change and fearful of losing its accustomed stability. All this inhibits the social integration of newcomers and has already led to the emergence of large groups of economically deprived and politically alienated migrants at the margins of the social and cultural mainstream. To compensate for demographic decline, Europe needs immigration.

But given the constraints sketched out above, European countries would need much more active and ambitious policies to make it a success. Developing a comprehensive approach to manage migration responsibly and ensure that incoming people are integrated well should be a top priority of European governments.

But the stress of the — crisis has boosted populist rightist movements, which in turn are driving mainstream politicians toward anti-immigration policies.

Future of Europe: EU's liberals are losing their grip in the struggle to solve its migration crisis

As governments become more nationalistic and solidarity among member states diminishes, collective action on the EU level—an essential component of successful migration management—has become more difficult. At the moment, deterring more people from coming to Europe and returning those who have arrived illegally appear to be the only real priorities in many member states. However, Europe is surrounded by heavily populated regions to which it is bound by a dense network of economic and societal ties.

But immigration into Europe will never be stopped or reversed to a degree that will satisfy populist rightist parties. Migration pressure will continue. Periods of relative calm will be followed by periods of significant inflows. Seeking simply to stop further immigration will only generate unrealistic expectations and provoke an even more serious populist backlash. Europe urgently needs to focus on helping restore stability in its turbulent neighborhood.

This requires active diplomacy, massive economic investment, and a readiness for genuine partnership. Cooperation on migration management is an important element of this partnership, but it would be shortsighted to subordinate all other policies to this aim. Moreover, initiating an orderly process for the resettlement of refugees, setting up safe reception centers in transit countries, implementing efficient arrangement for returns, and improving border and coastal controls all presuppose goodwill and a fair balancing of the interests of both sides.

A European mind-set based on a war of civilizations and the notion of Fortress Europe is the opposite of the kind of engagement that neighboring regions need. Rather than easing the turmoil, such an approach would increase hostility and undermine stability further, possibly resulting in even greater migration pressures. An exclusive focus on deterring further asylum seekers would also make the successful integration of those already in Europe more difficult.

The wish to prevent and sanction abuses of asylum procedures has triggered a race to the bottom in terms of protection standards and reception conditions. Many member states have cut financial assistance, curtailed freedom of movement, and made access to social services and the labor market more difficult. Making the lives of asylum seekers unattractive might deter some people from coming to Europe, but the same policies greatly impede the chances of successfully integrating those who are already there.

There is little point in European host countries preaching the necessity of adjusting to their values and ways of life when the same governments are making it ever more difficult for immigrants to lead normal lives. The terrible risk of the spreading anti-immigration feeling is that it can easily turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who claim that Muslims and Africans have no place in Europe and who blame immigrants for crime and terrorism create a social and political climate that hampers the integration of migrants already in Europe.

Negative attitudes toward nonnative residents contribute to their alienation, separate them from their host societies, and radicalize a number of them. And as problems with immigrant communities increase, hostility toward them will be ramped up in a vicious circle. This rise of xenophobia will not only affect relations with minorities and migrants. It will also invade the entire political and social space and poison all aspects of public life.

It will divide communities, spread intolerance, foment tensions, and often trigger violence. Mobilizing against these tendencies while there is still a chance should be seen not as a mere humanitarian concern but as the urgent self-defense of a decent and open society. Contrary to the populist polemics, the real struggle to preserve the achievements of Judeo-Christian civilization consists precisely in resisting xenophobia and Islamophobia.

Hate speech and aggression toward migrants and refugees must be firmly rejected.

  • Cracks in the Walls of Fortress Europe?.
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However, tolerance is not enough. If newcomers feel welcome, they will find their place in society much more easily. Political elites need to make the case that a rapidly aging and demographically declining continent requires the inflow of young people and has much to benefit from their energy and ideas. Leaders will only gain public support for these views, however, if they manage migration responsibly and shocks such as the — refugee crisis are not repeated. European governments need to acknowledge that unlike the United States or Canada, European societies are not naturally configured to facilitate immigration.

To make it a success requires much more active governmental involvement, in particular massive investment in education and training. It will also mean reviewing long-established practices designed to protect the interests of existing stakeholders. Structural reforms are indispensable for successfully integrating large numbers of immigrants. Political elites have to resist current tendencies toward renationalization. Attempting to handle migration through national means alone would result in fragmented and incoherent policies that pit EU member states against each other.

Instead, EU member states should move toward stronger common rules on asylum and immigration, better collective action to engage with neighboring regions, greater solidarity on burden sharing, and more robust and effective institutions. No other challenge poses similar risks to the survival of liberal European democracies and of European integration. But if handled correctly, immigration also offers great potential for the success of an open and dynamic Europe in a globalized world.

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Or as a minimum, to look at the economic and social conditions which discourage people from having babies? What on earth makes you think that the energy and ideas of young people are necessarily good for Europe, or compatible with concepts such as equality between men and women, or division of religion and state? I totally agree with both the analysis and the advice provided. Definitely "massive investment in education and training" are going to the key. I would just like to add a footnote to this: Italy, that has started receiving refugees and migrants much earlier than any other country in Europe because of its geography except perhaps for Spain - indeed, waves of refugees arrived in Italy in the early s has also, amidst great difficulties and many setbacks developed a sort of "model" to integrate migrants that seems to be working very well.

It is not simply based on investment in training and education though of course, it does have that too as an unavoidable starting point, the Italian State spends a fair amount of money for each immigrant. It also calls on using social integration techniques that are often quite innovative and that I have noticed they use in Canada too. What I am talking about is providing migrants with housing. That is a very radical solution, it means taking them out of the usual concentration camps where they are all parked together and providing them instead with their own separate housing for the whole family, usually located inside of small towns and villages.

This is what they have done in Southern Italy - for example, refurbishing abandoned houses that are a property of the municipality as people migrate to bigger towns, there are lots of abandoned houses in the countryside. The migrants effectively start to live a normal life with their own roof over their head.

They receive continue to receive training and are lightly monitored the Italian government pays NGO local staff who help the refugees. They learn Italian and a skill with which they can start earning money; they are invited to local social events in the life of village or town, they share meals with neighbors; their kids go to the local school. That's what "integration" really requires, a big job, a lot of patience and acceptance of people with a different culture, but several Italian mayors of small towns in Southern Italy have proved that it can be done.

They totally should, if they do not europe will be no more. They should remove all that are not registered and crack down on those that impose the islamic radical terrorism on those they impose upon. Carnegie Europe. Sign up for Carnegie Email. Experts Publications Events.

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Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Screen names appear with your comment. Screen Name. Email Address. Sort by: Date Posted Recommended. Report Recommend. Reply to this post. Claude Forthomme. They should remove all that are not registered and crack down on those that impose the islamic radical terrorism on those they impose upon Report Recommend.