Essay about Immigration to the European Union

Topics:
Words:
2417
Pages:
5
This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Cite this essay cite-image

Over the last 15 years, Europe has witnessed many changes. Since the establishment of the European Union in 1957, the countries of the region have tried to cooperate on various subjects such as economy, commerce, and security matters. After the fall of communism in the late 1980s and early 1990s, more countries have been entering the Union, giving the idea that peace and prosperity have, eventually, been accomplished. But by the end of the 2000s, clouds gathered again over Europe, threatening the foundations that had been established through the years. Wars in other world regions have caused a major problem to the already densely populated Europe, the issue of immigration. This issue was not treated as carefully as it should have been during the first years, making today’s solutions even more complex and difficult. This paper will focus on how the immigration issue has become a security matter in Europe and its causes, providing some more specific examples regarding the most ‘affected’ country of the region, Greece, since the refugee crisis of 2015.

Historical Background

In order to examine the causes of the securitization of the immigration issue in Europe, it would be vital to understand the reasons behind this huge population movement towards the region. The issue started at the beginning of 2011 with the ‘Arab Spring’. This period had a huge and immediate impact on the Arab countries as they had long been ruled by authoritarian regimes. “Beginning in December 2010, anti-government protests rocked Tunisia. By early 2011 they had spread into what became known as the Arab Spring—a wave of protests, uprisings, and unrest that spread across Arabic-speaking countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Pro-democratic protests, which spread rapidly due to social media, ended up toppling the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen” (Blakemore, 2019). Starting in Tunisia and rapidly moving into other Arab countries, in just a few months, the uprising had achieved to overthrow most of the long-ruling regimes, but in some cases “the uprisings also led to armed conflict in some countries, including civil war in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen” (Blakemore, 2019). “The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 raised hopes of democratization in the Middle East, but many of the gains of the revolutionary movements have since been reversed” (Khan, 2015).

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place an order
document

The above-mentioned uprising didn’t just affect the nations that it took place in, it was the beginning of the immigration crisis that would ‘shake’ Europe in the coming years. After the ‘Arab Spring’, a large number of people from Arab and African countries started to move toward Europe, seeking a better future. This movement was so massive and rapid that already densely populated European countries ‘felt’ the consequences of the issue very quickly. Also, the EU countries were unprepared and unable to host so many people, making the governments take rough measures. “European politicians believe they can discourage migrants from crossing the Mediterranean simply by reducing rescue operations. But refugees say that the scale of unrest in the Middle East, including in the countries in which they initially sought sanctuary, leaves them with no option but to take their chances at sea” (Kingsley, 2015). It is worth mentioning that “more than 45,000 migrants risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean to reach Italy and Malta just in 2013” (Kingsley, 2015). More statistics will be shown further into the essay, as well as, the effects of the immigration issue for the EU countries and especially Greece. Furthermore, the causes of the securitization of the issue of immigration will be analyzed.

Statistics

Not long after the ‘Arab Spring’, the immigration issue started in Europe. In 2015, the first large human wave of migrants reached and tried to enter Europe. Greece, Italy, and Spain were the first countries the migrants reached, causing them serious problems, as they were not prepared to host so many people. The issue almost immediately started to concern the EU, as such a rapid and enormous population rise would have some serious consequences not only to the communities of the countries but also to the whole EU structures and policies. To better understand the scale of the issue, some statistics must be shown.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, “more than 1 million refugees and migrants arrived in Greece in 2015 and early 2016. The influx began increasing again in the second half of 2017 when the government began taking over full responsibility for Greece’s refugee response. In May 2018, the number of refugees and migrants in Greece stood at more than 60,000, including about 14,000 on the islands” (Greece, 2018). The immigrant flows trying to reach Europe continue to grow annually. “At present Spain, Italy, and Greece take most of the strain owing to their geographical position on the Mediterranean Sea and the fact that, under EU law, asylum seekers must lodge their applications in the first EU country they enter” (Henley, 2018). For Greece, especially, the issue has been rapidly getting out of hand during the last few years. Statistical data from the Hellenic Asylum Service show that only in 2019, 77,285 people applied for asylum in the entire country. According to the same source, just in the first month of 2020, in the islands of Lesvos, Samos, and Chios, which are just a few miles from the Turkish shores, 5.683 people applied for asylum. This fact provides a very good picture of the situation for the huge numbers of people trying to reach Greece but wanting to move to other EU countries. In 2019 over 120,000 migrants seeking asylum in the EU had to be distributed among member state countries. Most of them are distributed in Germany, France, and Spain. Despite these policies some member-state countries still believe that the immigration issue is not treated as it should, causing major disagreements between some countries and causing different securitization policies.

Securitization of Europe

Terrorism

Since the first major migration period to Europe in 2015, a large number of migrants have reached Europe. This rapid and overwhelming number of people has caught the EU and the member state governments unprepared when also this collision of different cultures living in such a small place has caused many issues. These issues had, as a result, the adoption of a securitization policy from the EU. The concept of securitization is a theoretical approach by the Copenhagen School that argues “that in international relations something becomes a security issue when it is presented as posing an existential threat to some object – a threat that needs to be dealt with immediately and with extraordinary measures. The main argument of securitization theory is that in international relations an issue becomes a security issue not because something constitutes an objective threat to the state (or another referent object), but rather because an actor has defined something as an existential threat to some object’s survival” (Diskaya, 2013).

“It is impossible to ignore the impact of international terrorism in the development of migration-security nexus” (Estevens, 2018). Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, security policies have become stricter. Many terrorist groups, like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, took the chance and planned more terrorist attacks. London and other European countries’ capitals became a target, forcing the EU to act and change its security policies. “Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the EU established a list of persons, groups, and entities involved in terrorist acts and subject to restrictive measures” (‘EU Fight against Terrorism’, 2020). Since, the immigration issue presupposes people seeking asylum and, in most cases, to have lost their identity documents, authorities treat everyone as a potential threat.

In 2015, attacks in Paris and Brussels showed the importance of the securitization policy. The terrorist ‘mastermind’ behind the attacks had entered Europe as a refugee and through Greece managed to reach Western Europe and plan the attacks. After all these incidents that took place over the last 15-20 years, it is obvious why terrorism has played an important, if not the most important, role in the securitization of Europe. In Greece especially, since 2012, authorities have conducted daily patrols in the areas where most of the refugees are situated. Even further, it is more likely to see a ‘random’ body search and identification check happening to an immigrant than any other citizen in the country. “Terrorism shapes public opinion on migration, which justifies the need for a better understanding of terrorism and religion. Failing this, one may assume that any Muslim may be a potential terrorist, which might give rise to Islamophobia inside Europe” (Estevens, 2018).

Xenophobia-Crime Fears

The massive human waves reaching Europe during the last years had a major impact on the way of life of European people. Especially in countries like Greece and Italy, where thousands of undocumented migrants arrive every day, xenophobia or racist abuse is a common phenomenon. Conservative and far-right parties are spreading their ideology projecting crimes that happened by immigrants. In Greece, the neo-Nazi party of ‘Golden Dawn’ found a fertile ground to rise because of the immigration issue and managed to enter the parliament in three of the last four national elections, in 2012 and twice in 2015, when simultaneously managed to elect members in the European Parliament. Unfortunately, Greece is not the only country to have seen the rise of right-wing parties due to the immigration issue. In France similarly, “Marine Le Pen and the party she leads, France’s xenophobic and fiercely anti-EU National Front (FN), have never been so close to power” (Reguly, 2017). For the FN, the enemies are foreigners and Islam, when according to Le Pen, “Behind mass immigration, there is terrorism” (Reguly, 2017).

Phenomena like the above-mentioned are common in European societies nowadays. Ordinary people are starting to see immigrants as a threat mainly because a significant number are getting involved in crimes or because they create ‘ghettos’ in many cities. The Copenhagen School approach explains this situation better. “The approach also partially deepened the meaning of security by arguing that issues can be considered matters of security even if they are not threatening states” (Popper, 2008). In Athens, Greece, a large part of the city center is filled with immigrants. “Algerians, Moroccans, and Afghans are battling the Somalians and the Nigerians to prevail in the drugs and prostitute businesses in tourist areas like Monastiraki, the Acropolis and Thiseio” (Popotas, 2020). All these incidents make citizens of these areas fear immigrants since some of them are involved in illegal actions, seeing them as the reason crime rates rise. For those reasons, among many, the Hellenic government, which cannot be described as conservative or far-right, is forced to take ‘defensive’ measures not because the ‘actor’, as the Copenhagen School defines immigrants, has caused any significant or an issue that didn’t already exist, but because local societies demand precaution measures to be taken. “Government and local authorities in the northern Aegean are running into a collision course, with the government giving the green light to the construction of new closed accommodation centers, similar to the open one in Moria, Lesvos, while locals are opposed to their construction demanding the decongestion of the islands and removal of the migrants” (Fanarioti, 2020).

Political-Diplomatic Reasons

The immigration issue has not only been concerning European societies but also, as mentioned above, EU politicians. Even the most liberal governments of the region tend to face it as a problem. Even more, although most countries have agreed to accept a certain number of immigrants on their soil, they all agree that the numbers reaching Europe are more than countries can host.

On the opposite side, there are countries, especially Turkey, that use the immigration crisis to achieve their political and diplomatic goals. Turkey exploits the fact that it is the last non-European country that most immigrants have to pass to get to Europe, and ‘blackmails’ the EU that if certain demands are not met, it will allow a huge number of immigrants to enter Europe. “Currently, Turkey has actively prevented Syrian refugees from attempting the perilous journey to Greece in exchange for billions of euros from the EU. Erdogan has accused Brussels of failing to deliver on the deal, saying Turkey still expects the promised €6 billion ($6.6 billion)” (‘Europe ‘Will Feel’ New Refugee Wave, Warns Turkey’s Erdogan’, 2019). Furthermore, Turkey uses the immigration issue for its diplomatic visions. “Turkey’s president has vowed to send millions of refugees to Europe if countries do not back his proposals for them to be settled in a ‘safe zone’ in Syria. He warned he would ‘open the gates’ for asylum seekers if European countries failed to support Ankara’s plans to resettle them in Syria’s northeast. If Turkey’s plans for the return [of the refugees] ... is not supported, we will have no choice but to open our borders. We would open the borders, they can go to Europe” (Baynes, 2019), knowing that the EU isn’t able to accept more people nor has the infrastructure needed to host them until a better solution is found.

This conflict of interest could be interpreted by the critical application of the securitization theory. According to the critical application, every state’s policy is dominated by its interests or the interests of the elites. In this situation, the interests of Turkey and the EU are different, while Turkey threatens the European way of life by threatening to ‘flood’ it with immigrants. The EU elites cannot accept this happening and, for this, try to securitize the region against this threat. “State or international elites utilize the security policy as an instrument to maintain order, preserve current power structures, or to pursue personal or political interests” (Charrett, 2009), briefly describing the current situation between Turkey and the EU.

Conclusions

The immigration issue has oscillated in Europe during the last few years. The EU has come up with certain policies to cope with it. Until today, there hasn’t been a straightforward solution, resulting in the securitization of Europe. Greece, as the ‘border country’ of the EU, had to face many problems regarding the issue and to balance internal complaints with complaints coming from immigrants. The country has seen many measures to be taken, especially for the prevention of terrorism, but, on the contrary, has done little to prevent xenophobia and racial abuse of immigrants. Being a member of the EU doesn’t allow the country to take many initiatives to find a solution, practically leaving the country exposed to the political decisions of the rest of the EU and constantly having to host more immigrants. Until this point, the securitization of Europe has done few things to solve the issue and even fewer to help host countries like Greece.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this paper

Essay about Immigration to the European Union. (2024, March 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-immigration-to-the-european-union/
“Essay about Immigration to the European Union.” Edubirdie, 27 Mar. 2024, edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-immigration-to-the-european-union/
Essay about Immigration to the European Union. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-immigration-to-the-european-union/> [Accessed 22 Jun. 2024].
Essay about Immigration to the European Union [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2024 Mar 27 [cited 2024 Jun 22]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-about-immigration-to-the-european-union/
copy

Join our 150k of happy users

  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via support@edubirdie.com.

Check it out!
close
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.