A police officer at a train station in Budapest, right, tried to enforce new ticketing rules for migrant passengers bound for Austria. Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

The freedom of movement in peril

Blog post by François Crépeau
1 September, 2015

The present chaos serves perfectly the nationalist populist movements. There will be electoral consequences to the present inability of European leaders to rise to the political occasion. They seem incapable to explain to their electorate that borders are porous and migration can’t be stopped in the long term by police methods, to develop a positive discourse on mobility and diversity as foundation stones of contemporary European societies, to build a realistic collective long term plan that includes a massive resettlement programme for refugees, with efficient distribution keys, and many more legal ways to enter Europe to look for work, and therefore to start organising the migration movements – thus taking over the mobility market from the smugglers – rather than try resisting them – which only creates more precariousness for migrants and entrenches smuggling operations –.

The first major political casualty risks being the free movement of persons inside Europe: this would be a huge step backwards in time and a recoil from one of the key philosophical foundations of the Union. The second probable consequence of the present chaos could be in the UK: based on the fears stoked by all domestic political parties of an invasion of migrants and the destruction of the British way of life, there’s now a reasonable chance that PM Cameron will lose his referendum and that UK will exit the EU.

Without the UK, without free mobility and with a faltering currency union, the European Union risks becoming the shallow free trade zone that the UK seems to have always wanted it to be. Unless European leaders get their act together quickly, as Chancellor Merkel is requesting, Europe is in for momentous political and economic shocks.

For more information, read the New York Times article ”Migrant Crisis Tests Core European Value: Open Borders”.

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