The Refugee Crisis Is Not Temporary
The European Union recognizes that “interdependence” is the key word of the modern world. In trade, mobility, and security, cross-sector, cross-border, and trans-continental cooperation is a must.
Last month, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for reform of various immigration policies in the EU and for European states to accept binding quotas to resettle 160,000 refugees. Yet, there are still no concrete proposals regarding the role and responsibilities of countries outside of the EU to “share the burden” of accepting refugees and migrants. Considering that there are many more to come from Syria alone, and also that more than 2.5 billion people live in oppressive regimes across the world, it is clear that any real policy solution has to focus on the root of the problem.
Social tensions are rising in Europe. The absorption of such a large number of ethnically and culturally diverse refugees is an exercise that has put our basic human values to the test, and could lead to resentments about rising crime, loss of national identities, and dubious religious concerns. If there is anything we should learn from this crisis, it is that people’s fears need to be taken seriously, and that public debate, transparency, and inclusive policy-making are still the best way to address global challenges.
In the years to come, the EU will have to embrace its neighbors in its policy-making and strategic thinking. It will also have to develop integration policies in cooperation with think tanks, academia, and human rights groups, along with organizations like the U.N. and the Red Cross. And it will have to address a growing populism and xenophobia that have resulted from territorial expansion. This will require a fully coordinated approach.