By Thomas Telford
The EU‘s future as an inclusive group of nations, who want to improve the quality of life of its people is under threat from nationalist right-wing parties wanting to destroy what Europe has become. Not since the 1930s and the rise of fascism have the right-wing had such a forum to influence society.
The immigration crisis which has gripped the continent has caused Britain to vote to leave the EU and have strained relations to a point where many opposition parties are now calling for their own referendum.
In the wake of the Brexit vote, anti-immigrant attacks have increased over 40%. Even on the morning of the result, there were reports of racist attacks.
EU countries have agreed that the EU should have common, or EU-wide, immigration and visa rules that will be valid all across the EU, in the 27 EU countries.
These are set out in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2009) and include common rules on:
Entry and residence conditions for migrants;
Procedures for issuing long-term visas and residence permits;
The rights of migrants living legally in an EU country;
Tackling irregular immigration and unauthorised residence;
The fight against human trafficking;
Agreements on the readmission of citizens returning to their own countries;
Incentives and support for EU countries to promote the integration of migrants.
Common measures to date include:
EU-wide rules that allow citizens of countries outside the EU to work or study in an EU country.
EU-wide rules that allow citizens of countries outside the EU who are staying legally in an EU country to bring their families to live with them and/or to become long-term residents.
Shared visa policies that enable non-EU citizens to travel freely for up to 3 months within Europe’s single travel zone, the Schengen area.
The Rise in Numbers
And now these countries are on the frontline of a humanitarian crisis which might very well end up shaping the future of the European Union. In total, more than one million migrants arrived on European shores in 2015. That number is expected to be exceeded this year with the vast majority landing on the Greek island of Lesbos before making their way through Europe.
In 2014 just over 43,000 made the journey through the Western Balkan route. In 2016 that number jumped to over 750,000.
Brussels has now created a policy of relocation for migrants. Each country has been given a number of how many migrants they should accept. But not everyone is on board with this plan.
Hungary’s Prime Minister , Viktor Orban held a referendum over the weekend asking citizens to reject the EU’s proposal for relocation. For the referendum to be recognised by the state, Orban needed at least a 50% turnout.
Although a whopping 99.8% voted for rejecting the EU proposal, just under 44% of the electorate voted. Orban still believes this to be a big win for his party and he looks likely to bring it before parliament. At the moment, Hungary has around 120,000 migrants inside its borders. I highly doubt if any of those migrants want to stay in Hungary and instead are looking to liberal countries like Sweden and Germany which guarantees their status as refugees, if they reach the country.
In France, Le Front Nationale now led by Marine Le Pen has continued with its populist anti-Europe and anti-immigration message. This party was founded by collaborators of the Nazi occupation and members of the Vichy Government. The former leader was La Pen’s father, Jean-Marie La Pen has been prosecuted numerous times for Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred. Are these the people we want running Europe?
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