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Living together

Friday, 16 December 2022, Im Fokus

Why is Europe's migration policy stuck? Bilgin Ayata outlines possible solutions.

How do we deal with migration? There is no sign of a United Europe on this issue. Not even on the International Migrants Day on 18 December. Political opinions in the EU could not be more different, the debate is stuck in a dead end. Bilgin Ayata, professor at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, views  migration  primarily as a proxy discussion and outlines a solution approach:

Migration was and is always a challenge - for everyone involved. In retrospect, however, it is a success story for Europe, which needed immigration after the Second World War urgently. It was a key driver of economic and cultural development.
The fact is that the current debates are very emotional and very polemical. The topic is often a representative of other conflicts. Although it is called European migration policy, it is often understood as irregular, undocumented immigration as well as asylum and flight, especially from African and Asian countries. It is usually more about who is migrating and from where, rather than about capacity.
Politically, a reversal of empirical reality is taking place. According to the EU Commission, the declining birth rate and an increasingly ageing population require the influx of 70 million people.
Migration and asylum policy is a question of political will rather than capacity. It is not the numbers of arriving refugees that are the problem, but the different attitudes towards asylum and migration. In fact, we need to answer basic questions: What kind of Europe do we want? What ideas of society do we have? What are the perspectives of coexistence within the states as well as within the Union?
The example of Ukrainian refugees shows that humane procedures can be implemented quickly and unbureaucratically. I share the opinion of an Italian legal scholar that the European directive for temporary protection could have been activated as early as 2015. In the face of drowning people in the Mediterranean sea, we are experiencing dehumanisation. Border protection is being placed above human rights. The mere attempt to apply for asylum is often criminalised. This is absolutely not compatible with EU standards.

Study programme

Those who would like to know more about the topic and attend courses taught by Bilgin Ayata can, for example, study the Joint Master's Programme in Southeast European Studies.

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