Europe’s Struggle with the Migration Crisis

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The number of immigrants arriving on Italian coasts reaches a new record every day. The government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who promised stricter border controls during the election campaign, finds itself in a difficult situation. The deterioration of economic and social conditions in Tunisia has led to an increase in migration to Italy’s Lampedusa Island. While these immigrants are expected to be distributed among European countries as required by the Dublin Agreement, EU member states are refraining from providing sufficient support to Italy, saying they are facing excessive migratory pressure.

The reception and resettlement of refugees between EU member states is a long-standing European problem. While each European country must accept asylum requests in proportion to its population, the migration crisis becomes more significant every day due to some member states closing their borders to refugees and asylum seekers. Therefore, some countries, such as Italy, are forced to accept more refugees.

While the European Union (EU) emphasizes the significance of common responsibilities in solving global problems, it is undeniable that countries in the international system are affected by global issues at different levels. The migration crisis is one of the best examples of this situation. The EU calls on Member States to find a collective and compassionate solution to tackle this migration crisis that safeguards human rights. However, due to the variable effects and internal political difficulties caused by the refugee crisis in each European country, Member States are resorting to solutions at the national level. France, for example, has expressed its intention to increase security on its border with Italy, citing a 100% increase in migration flows to its country.[1] Belgium has also announced that it will not accept asylum requests from single men for a while. [2]

Immigrants also cause difficulties in the implementation of the Schengen Agreement within the EU. Today, state borders are no longer just a political concept but have a polysemic character. In other words, national borders mean different things to different people. It can be seen as an obstacle for some and a gateway for others. The granting of the right to asylum is recognized as an international obligation by the 1951 Geneva Convention. However, only some asylum seekers can benefit from this right at the same level. This supports the idea that state borders serve different functions for different people

EU member states have remained united in adhering to a humane migration policy as they deal with the influx of Ukrainian refugees following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This incident demonstrated Europe’s ability to deal with large numbers of refugees. On the other hand, EU countries do not treat refugees from the Middle East and North Africa in the same way. As Etienne Balibar points out, Europe is a borderland, and the Union’s borders are highly discriminatory in order to limit the mobility of undesirable individuals. [3]

The effects of immigration on culture, identity, and economy also create another point of disagreement between EU member states. From a demographic point of view, migration, especially of young refugees and asylum seekers, to developed economies can be seen as a desirable development. For example, in Belgium, some political groups advocate accelerating the integration of even undocumented immigrants into economic systems, as refugees can contribute as a source of employment.[4] On the other hand, Meloni argues that Europe must trust European citizens to resolve the crisis of the European welfare system. [5]

In addition to these events, one of the consequences of the migration crisis in Europe is that far-right parties gain support among public opinion and contribute to their rise by fueling the xenophobic feelings of their citizens. Especially since 2015, far-right European parties have seen refugees and asylum seekers fleeing the Syrian civil war and North Africa as an opportunity to rebuild their political agendas. They have now shaped their new political agenda against the influx of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers and on the increasing xenophobic views in public opinion. They have attempted to present themselves as potential saviors of their nations against the significant immigrant threat. For example, Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice Party based its campaign for the general elections to be held on October 15, 2023, on solving the immigration problem, particularly against immigrants from Muslim countries. [6]

In conclusion, globalization is not moving towards a world without borders. In fact, on the contrary, the borders of the world and the functions of these borders have increased. Rather than simply dividing lands, it is clear that borders perform different tasks for different people. Therefore, the EU can be considered as a borderland that cannot form a democratic space due to the exclusion of undesirable individuals. ‘Eurosceptic’ sentiments and xenophobia are likely to increase further due to the EU’s inability to resolve the needs and problems of its member states. While the increasing skepticism towards immigrants in Europe in recent years has led to the tightening of immigration policies, the immigration crisis in Europe will likely deepen and become more severe as the views on refugees and asylum seekers vary according to political parties and member states.

[1] “Migranti, Da Berlino Stop Ad Accoglienza Dei Richiedenti Asilo Dall’ıtalia”, Republica,, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[2] “Migranti, Da Berlino Stop Ad Accoglienza Dei Richiedenti Asilo Dall’ıtaliamigranti, Da Berlino Stop Ad Accoglienza Dei Richiedenti Asilo Dall’ıtalia”, Ilfatto Quotidiano,, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[3] Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, “Reviewed Work: We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship by Étienne Balibar”, Journal of International Affairs, 57(2), Land: Borders, Identity, Rights, (Spring 2004), s. 190.

[4] “Migranti, da Berlino stop ad accoglienza dei richiedenti asilo dall’ItaliaMigranti, da Berlino stop ad accoglienza dei richiedenti asilo dall’Italia”, a.g.e., (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[5] “Italy’s PM Says Migration Won’t Solve Europe’s Demographic Crisis”, Reuters,, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

[6] “Poland’s Government Under Fire After Reports Of Cash-For-Visas Scheme”, Politico,, (Erişim Tarihi: 19.09.2023).

Lal İlhan, 2020 yılında Bologna Üniversitesi Siyasi Bilimler ve Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden "The Limits of Cosmopolitanism in the Era of Globalization" başlıklı bitirme teziyle mezun olmuştur. 2022 yılında Sapienza Roma Üniversitesi Kalkınma ve Uluslararası İşbirliği Bölümü'ndeki yüksek lisansını "Capitalism and Democracy; Undeniable Contradiction or Constructible Harmony" başlıklı teziyle tamamlamıştır. İleri derecede İngilizce ve İtalyanca bilen Lal’in başlıca ilgi alanları; Avrupa Birliği, uluslararası örgütler ve uluslararası kalkınmadır.