Wednesday, April 24, 2024
European Union

Can the migrant crisis destroy the European Union?

Irish Naval personnel from the LÉ Eithne (P31) rescuing migrants as part of Operation Triton (Source: Irish Defence Forces / Wikmedia Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

The main responsibility for destroying the European integration project lies with the most pro-EU leftist and liberal elites. Through their policies toward immigrants, they are not only causing a Euroskeptic revolt among the peoples of Europe against the EU, but in addition they are allowing millions more immigrants into the bloc, the vast majority of whom reject European integration and so-called European values.

Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse

(Professor Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse is a political scientist and sociologist specializing in European Studies at the University of Warsaw.)

According to Lejb Fogelman, a lawyer and historian of ideas, the European Union will fall apart precisely because of the migrant crisis. This is clearly the fault of those liberals who want to let immigrants into Europe without a plan to integrate them. According to Fogelman, this must lead to a social revolt by the native population, whose anger will be directed not only against immigrants, but above all against Brussels.

The cited author points to the underlying mechanisms that can lead to European disintegration.

First, for many years the European Union’s ruling liberal and leftist elites have been following an “open door” policy in the face of mass immigration. Angela Merkel’s approach to the 2015-2016 crisis was simply one illustration of this fact. Second, such policies are displeasing to a growing number of EU citizens. Third, the massive influx of immigrants means that they do not integrate into local societies, or do so only superficially. They also reject so-called European values, especially the leftist and liberal ones that are being promoted by the elites, and who let the immigrants into the EU in the first place.

In other words, the main responsibility for destroying the European integration project lies with the most pro-EU leftist and liberal elites. Through their policies toward immigrants, they are not only causing a Euroskeptic revolt among the peoples of Europe against the EU, but in addition they are allowing millions more immigrants into the bloc, the vast majority of whom reject European integration and so-called European values.

This is the greatest paradox of the liberal policies enforced by the Brussels elite and all those supporters of integration who call for a massive influx of non-European people into the EU.

Perhaps they hope in this way to dilute the existing European nations, their identities, and their citizens’ attachment to the nation-state and national traditions.

However, a European Union deprived of its foundations, i.e. of its centuries-old national and religious traditions, will, with a high degree of certainty, find it difficult to keep on going along the path of successful development.

In addition, the increasing ethnic mix, especially in Western Europe, and the cultural diversity that accompanies it do not create adequate social cohesion for the success of the European project. On the contrary, it creates an environment for a mutually reinforcing process of deepening ethnic, cultural, and economic divisions. They initially lead to the formation of parallel societies, and later become the cause of strong tensions and conflicts that are likely to deepen the fragmentation of societies on the Old Continent.

This is all the more so because EU residents of non-European origin integrate only superficially, often rejecting not just EU values, but even rebelling against the member states and all public authorities. Their resentment of the local national traditions, native peoples, and the national authorities inevitably comes to include the European Union as well.

This is even more so if the latter forcibly propagates a leftist ideology from the top that is very often opposed, for example, by Muslim immigrants and their descendants.

No chance for assimilation

A number of studies of young people of immigrant origin, even those belonging to successive generations of immigrants, have shown a low level of identification of those communities with the local culture. This is especially the case when, within a school or classroom, non-European ethnic groups make up a significant percentage of the students.

What’s more, resentment of the local national culture has the effect of turning the descendants of immigrants off to so-called “European values,” which are often equated by them with national traditions. The aforementioned studies have highlighted the relatively low effectiveness of national education systems in integrating ethnic minorities into the native culture.

This is largely due to Islamic culture. The latter’s intransigence is fueled by a religious revival that has been going on since at least the 1970s. In Europe, the radical nature of Islam has been further intensified by the alienation of immigrants and their lower than average economic and social status.

According to a sociological study conducted in six Western European countries (Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Sweden) and published in 2015 in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies under the title of “Religious Fundamentalism and Hostility against Out-groups: A Comparison of Muslims and Christians in Western Europe,” religious fundamentalism among Muslims has always been significantly higher than among Christians, and it encompasses half of the population professing Islam. Furthermore, this level of fundamentalism also appears to be similar whether we look at first-generation immigrants or those belonging to successive generations.

In other words, over half the Muslims living in Western Europe are radicals who reject European culture alongside the so-called European values promoted by Brussels. Such a large and influential radicalized part of the immigrant community essentially makes assimilation impossible.

Thus, a significant number of immigrants and their offspring question the principles of the secular state and Western Europe’s other political values. They are committed to the superiority of the Quran’s principles over the EU and national laws, to religious education as the preferred form of education for the younger generation, and so on.

This is because, according to Islamic tradition, a democratic community cannot make laws at will, since the most important principles have been handed down from the Creator. Islamic theology is the opposite of liberal values. It emphasizes the subordination of society to religious and political authority, rather than individual freedom.

This undermines the basic principle of liberal democracy, and thus poses a serious challenge to the political order prevailing within the EU. This is all the more so since many Muslims not only expect religious tolerance and legal distinctiveness for themselves from the authorities of the various European countries, but gradually seek to extend their own culture and the laws of the Quran to the indigenous inhabitants of Europe as well.

Sociological studies have indicated that in many Western European cities such as Antwerp, Paris, Rotterdam, and London, ethnic minorities, including in large part those from Muslim countries, are becoming a majority that increasingly aspires to take power at the local government level. Demographers have also signaled that the moment is getting nearer when native European residents will become minorities in their own countries.

An illustration of the problems of integrating immigrants, even if they are of the second or third generation, was the massive protests by people of non-European descent in France in June/July 2023.

Most of the protesters were young French citizens who are descendants of immigrants from the former French colonies. They rioted, destroying public buildings, violently attacking police and other government officials, setting thousands of cars on fire, vandalizing streets, and robbing stores.

In doing so they rejected not only the current ruling elite of the French state, but the state itself, as well as its core values and its principles of governance. It was a protest motivated by low material and professional status, as well as few opportunities for success in life, but also by their rejection of a system of power which they feel favors the native population and discriminates against immigrants.

All this shows that the growing population of immigrant origin is rejecting European values and the rules of public life that are still binding in Western Europe. It is increasingly integrating around its own values, such as religious values, which are most often Islamic. At the same time, citing the colonial past and the alleged racism of the local population, this community expects a change in the Western European countries’ existing rules. It prefers to remodel the political order in Europe in order to privilege populations with non-European roots and rejects assimilation into traditional European values.

Just like the Brussels elites, immigrants and their descendants reject national traditions and values, but, contrary to those elites, they also rejects the leftist values and all those elements related to secularism in public life, women’s rights, and sexual minorities.

“Beauty is in diversity as freedom is in hijab” – image from a social media campaign by the Council of Europe promoting diversity among women and their freedom to wear the Islamic hijab. The image had to be removed amid backlash.

A threat to social order and security

Another threat to social order and security is the growing terrorist and criminal threat posed by this influx of immigrants. A huge number of them have little chance of legalizing their stay and finding official employment. They therefore end up feeding the ranks of criminal groups, which are the source of increasing social pathologies.

Those migrants are the ones who are most frequently involved in the sale of illegal drugs, but also in weapon and people smuggling, including the smuggling of even more migrants into Europe. Criminal groups fueled by immigrants ruthlessly fight each other for their spheres of influence. They are also dangerous for ordinary citizens and for the police, who are losing control over more and more areas of their own countries. Such is the situation in the Nordic countries, the Benelux countries, and France.

The terrorist threat from illegal immigration is also growing steadily. This is all the more so because it is supported by radical Islamic groups fighting against the former colonial powers, as well as against the West, which they see as degenerate because it is so liberal.

In addition, the terrorist threat is fueled by the hostile attitude of the Russian Federation. Russia has long been working to destabilize the EU and its member states, for example by supporting Euroskeptic groups as well as by trying to fuel the existing divides and social radicalization.

Moscow’s aggressiveness has taken a turn for the worse since Russia’s assault on Ukraine and the EU’s subsequent reaction, which has been to help the Ukrainians to defend themselves.

Fueling illegal immigration coming into the EU has long counted among the instruments of Vladimir Putin’s hybrid warfare against the European Union. The best example of this is the migration pressure exerted by the authorities of Belarus, a satellite of Moscow, on Poland and the Baltic states. Many of the African and Middle Eastern immigrants illegally crossing the EU’s eastern borders now come from Russia and some may even have received training by the Russian Federation’s special services. This increases the terrorist threat for Europe that is carried by this influx of immigrants.

Another factor of the destabilization on Moscow’s part has been the activities of the Wagner Group and other armed units financed by the Russian Federation in Africa. These forces recently supported the staging of military coups in Africa and have been asked for support by the junta in Niger.

Similar actions had been taken earlier in many other sub-Saharan African countries, as well as in Libya, for example. The effect has not only been to weaken the influence of Western European countries in Africa, especially France, but also – which is even worse – to intensify migration pressure on the European Union.

Europeans revolting

It is therefore hardly surprising that EU citizens, especially in Western Europe, are increasingly demanding a halt to this massive influx of migrants, most of whom are arriving in Europe illegally – that is, crossing the border without the proper documents and the permission of the relevant authorities. It is not always known what the identity and nationality of these immigrants is, and whether they have committed crimes in the past or belonged to terrorist groups or mafia organizations.

Only a small proportion of these people meet the criteria for asylum seekers, and the vast majority are economic migrants. Moreover, according to data published by the European Commission, only about 20 percent of immigrants entering the EU illegally are granted asylum.

This “open-door” policy toward mass immigration from Africa and Asia, as well as the policy of ignoring the increasingly visible threats to culture and political order in Europe, is prompting protests by the indigenous peoples. This is especially the case since Brussels is seeking to drown out these protests by reinforcing its own pro-immigrant narrative and imposing so-called “European values” – that is, leftist political norms – through violence.

Instead of focusing on countering the migrant crisis, Brussels is only pretending to combat it, taking measures that merely heighten emotions and deepen divisions among the member states.

This is the case with the mechanism of the forced relocation of migrants across all the member states that is now being pushed through for the second time. This instrument will not help to solve the crisis, and will in no way reduce the migration pressure on the EU. It just transfers the problems accompanying excessive non-European immigration to all the member states, even those that have not had to deal with these issues before now because they have no colonial past. Forced relocation has thus sparked resistance to Brussels, primarily in the Central European countries.

But growing citizen resistance to the EU institutions’ misguided and ineffective policies can also be seen in other EU countries. The right-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Italy won the elections in 2022 by riding the wave of resentment against immigrants. Another example is the rise in public support – to more than 20 percent – for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany, which has become the second-largest political force in Germany in 2023. A similar phenomenon has also emerged in Finland, where the Finns Party has not only rejected Brussels’ previous policy on immigration, but in response has also challenged Helsinki’s continued membership in the EU. In 2023, it entered the government coalition.

An alternative for Europe?

In this situation, the question must be asked whether there is an alternative for Europe. Can a more effective policy be imagined to solve the migration crisis?

Without a change in Brussels’ attitude, we should expect the forces that are tearing European societies apart to become stronger, especially in Western Europe. To change the existing policy, it would first be necessary to stop the next waves of mass immigration from Africa and Asia.

To this end, one solution could be to process asylum applications outside the EU, for example in the member states’ embassies and consulates abroad, or in special points set up for this purpose that would be located in North African countries and the Middle East. In the event of overwhelming migratory pressure, member states should have the right to suspend the processing of asylum applications.

Another way could be to bar all those who have illegally crossed the EU ‘s borders from filing for asylum. Other regulations should not apply to such people, either, as in for example family reunification.

The next steps should be aimed at breaking up smuggling organizations that are engaged in transferring people to Europe for a fee. These are more often criminal groups that also operate within the EU member states, so they could therefore potentially be eliminated by the national authorities. The EU and those of its member states concerned can also take more effective action to dismantle the organizations in question outside the EU, including in cooperation with countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Another measure that could limit the flow of migrants into Europe could be to ban NGOs from patrolling the coastal waters of their countries of departure and subsequently helping migrants to enter the EU. Such activities are sometimes carried out in cooperation with smugglers; in any case, they facilitate their work. Those who support the crime of crossing the EU border without the required documents and the permission of the relevant authorities should face severe penalties, especially when they are proven to be acting as part of an organized criminal group.

Unfortunately, for the time being there is no sign of such radical changes, and the European Union remains set on its path to self-destruction.