At first glance, Europe appears to have forgotten about its own share of responsibility for several conflicts in its periphery, its humanitarian values, and the cardinal rule of solidarity among the union’s members in cases of emergency. In the refugee crisis, the EU was forced to take into consideration several stark realities: its inability to influence geopolitical developments in and around Syria, the prospect of greater migration flows and the EU’s limited capacity or willingness for absorption, and the EU’s inadequate ability to efficiently protect its external borders. These shortcomings coincided with strong Euroskeptic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiments in several EU member states at a time of a broader leadership deficit across Europe. In addition, the EU faced the difficulty of integrating young Muslims into European societies already facing radicalization challenges.

These factors resulted in more pragmatic but often cruel policies toward the refugee problem. The EU was forced to make concessions to Turkey, a country that plays a critical role in Europe’s migration crisis but whose commitment to democratic values and respect for human rights has been gradually declining during the last few years.

The key questions now are whether Europe’s choices—as usual in the logic of the lowest common denominator—will prove at least moderately effective and whether the concept of common European policies on burden sharing and problem-solving will remain pertinent in the future.

Source: Carnegie Europe

Author: Dr Thanos Dokos