Drop in asylum claims doesn’t mean the EU’s refugee crisis is over

Drop in asylum claims doesn’t mean the EU’s refugee crisis is over

By Luke Vargas   
Published
The flag of the European Union outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Flickr photo: motiqua
The flag of the European Union outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Flickr photo: motiqua

“Even though the numbers are down, the 2015 and 2016 crisis has really had a scarring effect on the way that the E.U. thinks about migration.”

UNITED NATIONS – New E.U. data finds the number of asylum claims last year dropped to levels not seen since before the refugee crisis of 2015.

About 581,000 people filed first-time asylum claims in 2018, a far cry from the 1.2 million who did so in both 2015 and 2016, but that hardly means things are back to normal.

“Even though the numbers are down, the 2015 and 2016 crisis has really had a scarring effect on the way that the E.U. thinks about migration.”

Susan Fratzke is a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

“There’s a lot of concerns on the part of member states that if they open themselves up to make more responsibility, then someone else will take advantage of that.”

Consider Greece and Italy.

Burdened by massive waves of Mediterranean migration, the two countries failed to convince other countries to share the burden. So, fearful that by documenting and fingerprinting new asylum seekers they would become legally responsible for the migrants, Italy and Greece started cutting corners in their registration procedures.

That succeeded in shifting responsibility to northern European countries and fueled the rise of a new European political archetype: the anti-immigrant populist obsessed with zeroing out migration altogether.

Courtesy: EUROSTAT
Courtesy: EUROSTAT

“The other thing that this has done besides empowering some of those voices, is that it’s really focused national governments very much on this issue of numbers and counting arrivals.”

“So even though we’re down to pre-crisis levels right now, you have member state governments saying, ‘Well, that’s not acceptable. We have to have no arrivals.’ And there’s a question about how realistic that really is.”

That’s because while the wars in Syria and Afghanistan may be winding down, other conflicts could arise, and if they do, many European countries appear unwilling to take in more people.

“Particularly places like Denmark or Austria, they’ve been saying, ‘Well, we still have all these people here who need to integrate or return, and returns have been really difficult so we can’t accept new arrivals.’” 

And should those new arrivals come anyway, the rightward shift in European politics that follows could make the current rise of anti-migrant voices look tame by comparison.

 

  • Subscribe to Talk Media News


  • NO COMMENTS

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.