Throughout the centuries, groups of people have traveled across the continents of the Earth. Some have done so for political reasons, some social and some economic. Often a key factor in this is the need to migrate to avoid financial/personal calamity.
Migrants from many countries have made Europe their home for centuries and as the EU has expanded so has the number of migrants coming into it. The unrest and civil war in Syria and other outlying countries has exacerbated the upward curve in migration figures, which has in no small part led to the current crisis. Images of personal tragedy in the media have become grim reminders of the risks that these migrants have to endure to find a better life.
A central tenet of the European Union since day one has been the free and unrestricted movement of the individuals within its borders. It has become the sociological underpinning on which the union has built its economic and political success.
As this migration has increased the burdens on member states have increased, forcing them to accept larger and larger groups of these at risk individuals. Stresses, both economic and sociological structures have endangered the stability of these states exposing them to more extreme politics.
It is a trend that has not gone unnoticed by the many member states, in particular the UK who have looked to address the problem of uncontrolled migration in renewed negotiations with the EU. These negotiations and the eventual agreement brokered triggered the proposed referendum in the UK as to whether EU membership should continue.
This referendum is the greatest challenge to the EU since its founding. Legitimate concerns about the direction of the EU have been raised which if unanswered will be only to its detriment.
Key to this has been the battleground of immigration and the free movement of individuals, it has been the central pillar of the EU experiment and is vital to its success. The problem is that this policy has failed to anticipate the population explosion in Europe. Since its founding the population of the European Union has rocketed to just over 508 million individuals.
508 million individuals….. it seems an insane number doesn’t it? All the signs are that this will increase exponentially over the next 25 years as new states join the European Union. Many of these states are in economic collapse with record levels of poverty and unemployment, yet are allowed into the EU. This “perfect storm” of circumstantial forces has prompted many to migrate both legally and illegally to those more affluent member states.
Speaking plainly, these potential member states are simply not ready to be part of the European Union and the fact that large numbers of their respective populations choose to leave these countries is the best illustration of that lack of preparedness. Checking mechanisms which exist in the Union to ensure preparedness are often rushed in the drive toward greater inclusion. Migration remains a practical necessity in the globalized world, but migration without effective conditions of limitation will likewise be detrimental to the long term success of the EU.
Policies implemented by the UK government that have attempted to control migration into the UK by these increased numbers of migrants have utterly failed under the weight of political and judicial pressure from this free movement obsessed Union. Unwanted migration, coupled with the overtly “ever closer union” agenda being pursued by the EU has resulted in the current groundswell of anti-EU sentiment being expressed by elements of the British parliament and its populous. The practical expression of this sentiment is the current EU referendum on membership and it has become a key campaign issue in the political manifesto’s of both the Brexit and the Stronger In Europe groups.
I’m not saying that EU idealism is unwarranted, every citizen wants long term security and prosperity for themselves and their children. The governments of Europe have done what they thought was best to avoid a repeat of the two world wars of the 20th Century and what they have achieved is truly admirable. The problem is that the idealism has clouded their judgment and prevented them from seeing that the world has changed and as a result requires a fresh approach to meet these new challenges.
UK exit or continued inclusion could signal the sorts of reforms which address this issue in the long term or it could be a case of out of sight out of mind as the EU continues on its current course regardless. The proximity of the referendum has drawn this issue to the forefront of British politics with campaigning reaching fever pitch over the next few weeks. A similar ideological referendum on a larger scale needs to occur in the EU with the free movement of individuals at its heart.
© R Simmons. All Rights Reserved.