European leaders should de-escalate crisis around migration, says MPI Europe report
BRUSSELS – The European Union needs to boost its institutional capacity to predict and handle future volatility in migration to ease the sense of crisis hanging over national leaders, argues a new report from the Migration Policy Institute Europe.
Heads of government attending the European Summit this Thursday and Friday will discuss a range of issues, from strengthening external border controls to shifting responsibility for individual asylum claims. But in this discussion, the capacity of the EU institutions to respond to crisis has been largely absent.
The MPI Europe report, titled After the Storm: Learning from the EU response to the migration crisis, describes in detail how the bloc responded to the influx of hundreds of thousands of people in 2015-2016. It makes clear that EU officials were taken off guard by the dramatic rise in arrivals over the summer of 2015 and struggled to develop a course of action for several months. Despite the situation affecting several Member States, EU institutions had few means to coordinate a collective response.
To cope with this lack of internal leadership, the European Union organised a series of emergency summits, but this, in turn, over-politicised the response. The sense of panic that emerged has sustained an overall perception of crisis even as numbers of arrivals have dropped.
MPI Europe Director Elizabeth Collett and Policy Analyst Camille Le Coz argue in the report that to counter this, European policymakers should reassess the architecture built up to deal with the influx of 2015-2016.
‘In many ways, the European Union is in a much better position to respond to a new crisis than it was in 2014’, they write. ‘Yet it risks squandering the progress made if it cannot consolidate the lessons it has learned and create sustainable mechanisms to manage future emergencies’.
The report identifies several innovations that proved effective during the migration crisis, not least coordinating mechanisms put in place by EU institutions and improvements in the quality of information given to policymakers. The authors argue that these activities should be strengthened.
Along with this, the report suggests that the European Union should appoint a migration coordinator to sit across all policy areas affected by the issue, improve its data analysis capabilities as part of a beefed-up early warning system and find a way to switch between crisis and non-crisis modes.
‘Given the current fragility of EU cooperation on migration—not least within the Schengen area—the EU institutions cannot afford to offer national governments further excuses to withdraw into unilateralism’, the report argues.
Read the report here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/after-storm-learning-eu-response-migration-crisis.
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MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and non-governmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally. For more, visit www.mpieurope.org.