Free movement is part and parcel of continued access to European markets. Stephen Booth, co-director of Open Europe asks if it is worth sacrificing the latter to reduce the former? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.
Given the recent political history of immigration in Britain, is it surprising that the issue now tops the political agenda and that public trust in politicians on this issue is so low? Throughout the 2000s, with looser policies on non-EU migration and EU enlargement to eastern Europe taking effect, net immigration to the UK increased from the tens of thousands to well over 200,000 a year. According to Ipsos-Mori’s issues tracker, just 10% of the British electorate considered immigration to be the most important issue facing the country in the late 1990s. By the mid-2000s, the share of people saying it was the most important issue steadily increased to 40%, and by May 2015 it reached 50%.
Claus Offe, Emeritus Professor in Political Sociology, sets out the options available to policy makers in the EU for managing the refugee crisis and argues that they have the choice between seeing the integration of migrants as either an opportunity to renew the ageing populations of Europe or a challenge to be overcome.
The introduction of a thought-provoking book by Anthony de Jasay on political theory starts with the question: “What would you do if you were the state?” Imagine a reasonably informed, ambitious and unbiased public policy maker facing the challenges of the current refugee crisis – or, for that matter, any responsible citizen asking him- or herself that question. Continue reading
István Pogány, Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick, argues that the real threat to Europe does not come from an increasing number of migrants travelling into the continent, but rather from the anti-multiculturalism rhetoric of some of its political leaders, and in particular Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
As European leaders grapple with the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has repeatedly expressed his belief that the mostly Middle Eastern and predominantly Muslim refugees represent a grave threat to Europe. Orbán has argued that the ‘migrants’ (he refuses to acknowledge that most of them may be genuine refugees) represent a culture and a set of values that are irreconcilable with the core principles of European civilisation: a Christian heritage, belief in the rule of law, fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and gender equality. Continue reading
The refugee crisis highlights that it is time to reassess the contribution of East Central Europe’s mainstream parties of ‘liberals’ who are better at winning elections than at being liberal. James Dawson and Seán Hanley, experts in Central and East European politics at UCL, investigate.
Images from Hungary showing security forces turning tear gas and water cannon on refugees from behind a newly fortified border will come as little surprise to many observers of East Central Europe.
The government of Victor Orbán has systematically exploited the refugee crisis to ramp up a long-standing rhetoric of nationalist intolerance and consolidate its grip on power by passing a raft of emergency powers, further eroding Hungary’s once robust legal checks and balances. Such actions have drawn a storm of international opprobrium – including harsh criticism from the governments of Austria, Croatia and Serbia, all of which have taken a more humane and pragmatic approach to managing the influx of refugees. Continue reading