Five years after the migrant crisis, leading academics reflect on unity and division within the European Union

24 Feb 2020

The European migrant crisis continues to fuel both unity and division in the European Union five years on from its peak, according to leading academics.

Writing in 'Mediterranean perspectives on European Union and Disunion', a supplementary issue of the Journal of the British Academy, 12 scholars reflect on the lasting effects of the 2015-2019 migrant crisis, as well as the Greek debt crisis and the rise of nationalism across the continent. The crises raised questions about the European Union’s political and economic management of Southern European countries, the sustainability of the Eurozone, and the future of the European project.

The essays examine topics including:

  • why mostly Northern European nations, beneficiaries of financial integration in the Eurozone, have evaded scrutiny for their role in the Greek financial crisis and ongoing social and economic issues in South European countries with current account deficits
  • how European nationalists use anti-immigration rhetoric to capitalise on the socio-economic dissatisfaction of their citizens and how proponents of immigration are seeking to redirect the debate
  • whether there is really a "crisis" in European democracy
  • how new ideas and ‘positive’ rhetoric can counteract emotive, nationalist movements in Southern Europe and stop more dissenting Mediterranean voices from joining these movements
  • how partnerships between local governments and voluntary organisations offer humanitarian aid to refugees, bypassing the politicisation of refugees based on concerns about austerity and citizens’ precarious

This supplementary edition of the Journal of the British Academy was edited by Professor Ash Amin FBA, Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge and until last year Foreign Secretary and Vice-President of the British Academy.

Professor Ash Amin said:

“There are no easy remedies for the scale of discontentment with governance in Europe. Some of the core assumptions of federalism have been seriously tested in the face of global challenges affecting Europe: from global economic slowdown and national austerity cuts to cultural anxieties about immigration, globalisation, political abandonment, national identity and civil rights.

“The scholarly critiques in this edition start from this challenging position, making a serious case for sustainable and sensitive responses to xenophobic nationalism and populism in the Mediterranean. They address new ways of reinforcing democratic accountability, cultural dialogue and participation at multiple levels in Europe, along with a new social contract that rejects austerity.”

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