Migration and the response of the EU

, by Sotiriou Sotiris

Migration and the response of the EU
“A walk with a Syrian refugee across Europe”. Image from the Inspire to Change World website.

In this article, I would like to show that the European Union is dealing with an important crisis regarding migration, asylum policy and the accommodation of refugees on its soil. This issue is very significant for all of us as European citizens, as it has impact on our lives, but especially because we are young people and we should contribute to the solution of many challenges the EU faces in order to improve our role on the global stage.

The migratory crisis has evolved into one of the most controversial issues for the European family. Especially for the last 2 years Europe has been seen as a new home, as the destination for many young people, for many families that search for better perspectives and a better standard of living. However, European citizens are not just in favour of resettlement of these people in European society, but there are also also citizens that reprobate them. In general, European societies are extremely polarized as there are political conflicts and differences among member-states.

Migration is the permanent movement of people from one geographical location or region to another. It is not a new phenomenon for the Earth or for Europe, but it has been very intense for the last few years, as there is a wide range of factors that push those people to abandon their countries and find better situations on the European continent. Europeans are, for the first time since World War II, witnesses of such a massive movement of people towards their countries.

First of all, the reasons that make people take the difficult decision to abandon their homelands could be the ongoing war in their country, low wages, high unemployment, poor educational opportunities, incomplete infrastructure, a lack of technologies in combination with a lack of companies and industries, all of which would result in a bad quality of life. Thus, they search more political stability with better conditions. Undoubtedly, our Union offers the things they desire.

Undeniably, there is much positive impact, as the motto of European Union could be displayed, namely ‘United in diversity’. European society will become a real multicultural community that will host citizens from many different backgrounds. As we know, globalization has become more important in the last few decades. A multicultural society that hosts people from a wide range of cultural differences is undoubtedly the implementation of the concept of globalization. The European Union can increase its population and integrate human resources, improve its efficiency, meliorating the existing technology and cooperating with people from different cultures, spreading the vision of European integration. These refugees were the victims of exploitation, they faced tragic conditions, not only in their homelands but also during their movement to Europe. Long and meticulous walks, jail, enormous amounts of costs and smuggling are only some of the difficulties they faced, until coming to Europe, accomplishing their dream. We should think carefully about the combination of humanism and pragmatism, and understand that these people are not only a financial and social challenge but also a long-term opportunity for our ageing continent.

However, there are also some negative consequences for countries receiving migrants, as this process absorbs amounts of money and resources. Moreover, there are differences between natives, who exemplify Western-leaning behaviour and mentality, and the refugees, who originate from Eastern countries. Also, there is a possibility to exist intensity of crime and violence, while refugees are in desperation and they will try anything to survive and fulfill their needs. Unfortunately, there are examples of robberies, murders, rapes or sexual harassments and abuse. In general, the difficulties coming from the refugee crisis can change each and every personality, and make refugees angry and desperate. In addition, political conflicts could be considered a negative impact since the Eastern countries tend to be more afraid of the integration challenges they may face, such as Hungary and Slovakia. These countries have already accused the European Union of illegally distributing migrants, resulting in their refusal to accept any asylum seekers.

The migration problem should be resolved by European leaders, institutions, and citizens. Therefore, we need a common approach. There are different choices: either to accept these people and help them to try and improve their lives and their future, or to refuse them. Our response should be based on the European Union’s principles, like solidarity, cooperation and respect for human rights.

Rescue patrol on the island of Idomeni in Greece. Caroline Haga // IFRC

Mainly, these migrants are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from Nigeria and other African countries. The conditions in these parts of the world are not the best. So their inhabitants have the right, according to the international law and the Geneva Convention, to seek asylum in another country to avoid war, poverty, disease, and authoritarian regimes. The European Union and each and every member state should respond to this problem by adhering to the Geneva Convention (1951), the basic legal text that defines who is a refugee, what their rights are, and the legal obligations of states faced with refugees. Thus, the European Union and its institutions should constitute their response on this Convention, and then, with a sensitive and sensible approach to the issue, try to solve it without problems either for refugees or for countries themselves.

Although, European countries should improve their border security, as migration could lead not only to positive effects such as increasing its dwindling population and to boost the economy in certain sectors, but could also lead to chaos, disagreements and conflicts among the member-states.

Except for refugee rights, there are also some obligations. Countries which accommodate refugees should provide services in order to satisfy their requests and fundamental rights in accordance with European Law. On the other hand, immigrants should also take nations’ difficulties in consideration, as Europe is facing an economic crisis, and respect European citizens despite the fact that we have a Western culture, and as it is well-known the refugees’ way of life is different from our choices. There are differences according to the religion, the political beliefs, the fundamental human rights and the culture. Thus, mutual respect could lead this partnership to a better level. Mutual respect could be considered as the key to the improvement of that partnership, a good step for the people to be united.

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that the response of the European Union will not only be the accommodation and satisfaction of the short-term needs of refugees, and negotiations for their future. The most important step is to incorporate these people into society. The integration of refugees will possibly be the most difficult procedure, as the current European population and the incoming refugees have countless differences, but all of us have a basic thing in common: we are human beings with the same basic rights, the same obligations, the same desires and the same needs. Therefore, the European Union should offer a home to these tortured refugees, to incorporate them into its society without altering the European identity. Besides, the EU received the Nobel-prize for peace in 2012, thus all of us should prove that we deserve that distinction and that we are a stabilizer of the troubled conditions in our south-east borders. And with the proper education we can all fight together for a better world, for a better future for us and for the generations following us. A world which will avoid war, difficulties and the forced movement of people, based on our common experiences, as we are human beings and we should not live according to instincts, but according to rational choices.

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