When the European Union (EU) was formed in 1993, it had a simple goal: to end its long-standing divide by unifying its member states’ policies on immigration. A decade later, the bloc has become a leading advocate of “integration” through the adoption of progressive EU migration policies. These policies aim to ensure that all EU citizens are afforded the right to live and work in any state of member-state. The results have been dramatic. In the four years since the adoption of the landmark EU migration policy document, “Frontex”, the bloc has taken unprecedented action to stem the flow of migrants from Africa, whose numbers have more than trebled. Enduring the migration crisis will require more than ever before the cooperation of member states. But the EU must also be ready to deliver on its core values.
Why is the EU so focused on migration?
The rise of populism and anti-migration sentiment across the West has prompted a major push by the EU to strengthen its governance and influence in the global arena. The EU’s home state, Germany, is now one of the most vocal critics of the bloc’s open-door migration policies. In a recent survey, German voters were the most critical of the EU’s migration policy. The issue is at the heart of many of the key divisions felt in Europe.
Why has integration succeeded?
The success of the EU’s integration strategy can be assessed in three areas. Prior to the start of the EU’s engagement on integration, the bloc was home to more than 600 million people. Today, it has more than 28 million citizens, making it the biggest single-state club in the world. It has also gone from strength to strength, with its economy booming and more than three million new job opportunities created as a result of EU membership.
Key principles and values of the EU migration policy
The EU’s migration policy is based on four main principles that guide the bloc’s actions today:
Principle 1 – All European citizens have the right to live, work and study anywhere in the European Union.
Principle 2 – The European Union aims to protect the privacy and security of its citizens.
Principle 3 – The European Union is committed to ensuring common but differentiated responsibilities and liabilities for its member states.
Principle 4 – The European Union is rooted in Europe and based on values that Greeks, Romanians, Slovenes, Finns and other Europeans can all relate to.
The EU’s most recent migration crisis, which began in 2015, led to tens of thousands of people fleeing conflict and terror in their home countries to seek safe haven in Europe. This was followed by an increase in the number of applications from people from outside the EU seeking asylum. The EU now faces a growing demand for help as a result of an unprecedented number of people seeking protection in its territory.
In the coming months and years, the EU will have to respond to these new challenges by adapting its migration policy to reflect the evolving security situation. The bloc must also continue to boost its cooperation with Africa, Asia and the Middle East. This will require the EU to adapt its approach to strengthen the collaboration between its member states.
What can be done now?
The European Commission has estimated that while it has the legal capacity to handle a mass influx of people, it will only be able to take one extreme step: mandatory quotas on the number of people arriving in Europe.
In light of this, the EU should also consider implementing a “controlled” system of quotas, like Canada’s program to resettle admitted refugees, or the US’s program ofacial preference. These types of quotas tend to beasis of control and would limit the number of people allowed into a country based on a country’s ability to properly absorb them.
Beyond that, the EU should focus on helping its members integrate their newcomers, especially in the areas of health, education and employment. This will require the union to modernize its internal rules, to reduce the number of rejected assimilation applications and to provide better services to its members.
How to follow the EU on migration
Finding out what the EU does and doesn’t do: The European Commission, the union’s executive body, has published a monthly “state of migration” report. These provide vital data about the number of people arriving in the EU and the number of people leaving. They also provide insight into how member states are dealing with the issue.
Keeping up with the latest developments: The EU’s online news service, Euronews, provides breaking news and detailed analyses on current migration issues.
Follow the money: The flow of money within the European Union has an important role to play in combating migration. While the EU has made significant progress in uniting its member states behind a common migration policy, it has also become more centralized, with more and more wealth being generated at the expense of member states. It is crucial for the union to remain as connected, democratic and open as possible for as long as possible. It is also important to follow the money and see where the funding for the EU’s migrant policies comes from.
The European Union can and must do more to stop the flow of people seeking to enter its territory. It is the largest economy in the world and has the means to stem the flow of migrants, but it is not doing enough.
The EU has a long and proud history of integration, but now it has a crisis that demands a united response. The union must find a way to effectively integrate its new members, while maintaining its liberal ideals in the process. It must also work to protect the values that made Europe great.