On 2 March 2016 the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies organized a roundtable that aimed to analyze the so-called “refugee crisis” from different perspectives to gain a more comprehensive understanding of its causes and consequences, challenges and opportunities, as well as possible avenues for action. The term “refugee crisis” has become widely used in the public debate as a result of the unprecedented numbers of refugees and migrants moving across the Mediterranean Sea, or through Southeast Europe, to the European Union and applying for asylum. Most of these people come from Syria and to a lesser extent from Afghanistan and Iraq, but also from Sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan and the Western Balkans. The European Union and its member states have increasingly struggled to cope with this “crisis”, arguing over more funding, border patrol operations, fighting human trafficking, relocating quotas of refugees across Europe, reintroducing border controls within the Schengen Area, building fences, integrating refugees in European societies, etc. New rifts have thus emerged between the member states which question the solidarity within the EU and appear to turn the “refugee crisis” into an “EU crisis”.
The topic can be viewed through the lens of foreign affairs and security, migration and home affairs, humanitarian aid, fundamental rights, economic issues, or societal integration, and so on. The main challenge consists in integrating these different assessments and policy areas in the search for appropriate responses. The roundtable addressed the following main questions from different angles, on different levels (national, European, international) and for different actors (EU, EU member states, third countries, EU population, refugees/migrants, etc.):
- What are the causes of the “refugee crisis”?
- What are the consequences of the “refugee crisis”?
- What challenges and opportunities does this “refugee crisis” bring?
- What should be done to tackle the “refugee crisis”?
The speakers were Visiting Professors in the Department of EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe. They each delivered a very brief statement before opening the debate among the panelists and with the audience. The roundtable aimed at an interactive discussion producing policy-relevant conclusions.
College of Europe Policy Brief by Tommaso Emiliani based on the discussions at the roundtable
The roundtable benefitted from the financial support of the European Commission. It was followed by a drinks reception. The conference languages were English and French. Participation was open to the public.
For more information please contact Sabine Dekeyser