According to the EU, European values include respect for human dignity, freedom and equality so why is it that these values so rarely apply to refugees? Earlier this year, Angela Merkel stated that the future of the EU hinged on how the refugee crisis was dealt with. This statement has some potency. A functional response to the situation requires the EU states to cooperate on a supranational level to deal with an outside body, which is not, as the media presents, an invading force, but a group of people who have suffered and risked their lives to get to Europe. The EU’s ability to deal with this situation will be an accurate indication of the ability of the member states to cooperate with one another, and thus the state of the union.
So far their ability to cooperate on this issue has been lacking. Some states, most notably Sweden have become a “haven” for refugees, whereas others have been far less willing to follow suit. The refugee crisis can be seen as a way for the EU to revitalise itself. It is essential that all states share the burden, so that refugees arriving in Europe can find a permanent place of residence far quicker, rather than being stuck in ever prolonged transit periods with no clear vision for their futures. If the member states can successfully come together, this will not only provide relief for the millions of refugees so in need, but also reduce friction between EU states, and re-establish the EU’s success as a supranational institution.
“The refugee crisis can be seen as a way for the EU to revitalise itself. It is essential that all states share the burden, so that refugees arriving in Europe can find a permanent place of residence far quicker, rather than being stuck in ever prolonged transit periods with no clear vision for their futures.”
In addition, there are things that we as citizens can do to ensure a better future for refugees in Europe. A pop-up shop in London appeared on Black Friday named Choose Love, where shoppers could redirect their consumerism toward a better cause. Inside buyers could purchase gifts for refugees, ranging from sleeping bags, to clothing and toothbrushes, the shop was a huge success. Refugee’s Welcome marches have taken place all over the continent, aiming to provide visibility to people who have become invisible. Whilst action such as this may have no direct effect on the goings on in Brussels, the awareness it promotes and political pressure it creates stand to enforce the humanity of the refugee crisis and emphasise that these people who so often appear as facts and figures are so much more than that.
First published December 2018. Volume 14, Issue 3.