Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis

NoVaMigra has just released its final report Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis. See here for the full report.

Project Description
Press Kit
Project Description

Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis: Final Report

The Final Report synthesizes NoVaMigra’s research results and presents core conclusions and policy recommendations. After reconstructing what Europe’s core values are and how they relate to migration, we analyse if and how these values have changed in the wake of the 2015 “refugee crisis”. From there, we go on to construct core normative principles for the future of EU migration policy.

See here for the full report.

On Norms and Values in Europe’s Migration and Refugee Policy
- The Way Forward

3 May 2021, 9:30-11:30 am (CET), Online

Programme Policy Roundtable (pdf)
Registration Policy Roundtable (Evento platform)

Short report
What is at stake in the debate on a cosmopolitan future of the European Union? Is it to identify one cosmopolitan idea that is compatible with the specific circumstances of all different levels within the EU? Particularly when it comes to migration policies, European values are often a site for political conflict, an invitation to sustain the ongoing debate on their content and their political implications.
On 3 May 2021, NoVaMigra organized its final policy event to facilitate a debate between the project and policy makers in the EU and to highlight the relevance and meaning of NoVaMigra´s insights to practitioners. During the event, we discussed main parts of the NoVaMigra final report with Dr. Naoko Hashimoto (Hitotsubashi University; former staff of UNHCR, IOM), Annika Sandlund (UNHCR), Hilda Gustafsson (Malmö University), and Christoph Tometten (attorney, migration law). Content-wise, the policy event – held online – made clear what the idea of European cosmopolitanism implies for current challenges regarding the EU´s migration and refugee policy.
Cosmopolitanism is not part of the European values listed in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. It is rather a concept that had always been implicitly present in the Charter, namely the idea that every human being is worthy of moral and political concern. Furthermore, it is not clear, if materializing cosmopolitanism can be achieved through a uniform and standardized set of policies. Empirical investigations conducted within the NOVAMIGRA project demonstrate that, in the aftermath of the 2015 EU ‘refugee crisis’, cosmopolitan values and practices were and still are widespread amongst societal actors, and that their condemnation as utopian rather come from the European political institutions.
To understand this kind of dialectic that the European Union is grappling with in the context of its refugee and migration policies, the NoVaMigra policy event was organized along three spotlights:
Dr. Angeliki Dimitriadi zoomed in one of the values most prominently referred to in the institutional discourse: solidarity. She demonstrated that even though all institutions involved in EU migration policy-making invoke solidarity continuously, the meanings ascribed to it come apart during the “refugee crisis”. European institutions often cite the value to justify a growing range of often conflicting policy options. For example, the Common European Asylum System is a tangible demonstration of how the specific value of solidarity translates into a legislative framework to bind member states through the law – and still, its interpretations come apart, ranging from an insistence on implementing a binding refugee relocation scheme, to a justification of financial alternatives and various opt-out mechanisms.
Dr. Brigitte Suter elaborated on integration course teachers’ experiences in conveying the value of gender equality in Germany and Sweden. Although teachers where adamant about the general importance of gender equality, they often expressed ambiguity about how to convey it to integration course participants, citing a political climate where gender equality has been instrumentalised in political discourse to justify restrictive approaches to immigration. Suter presented specific policy recommendations on teaching gender equality in a neutral and inclusive way, specifically by referring to national and international legislation and rights documents.
Finally, Dr. Martin Deleixhe outlined possible political scenarios for the European Union. For example, the EU could double down on the idea that what makes it stand out as a transnational polity is the fact that it is driven by a political cosmopolitanism. This scenario would argue that the exact content of its norms and values is open to discussion but that it cannot allow their egalitarian and universalist core to be compromised. Consequently, it would adopt a more proactive stance in the management of migration, emphasize the need for European solidarity and assert its authority over the issue.

Final Academic Conference
The Boundaries of Cosmopolitan Europe

4‐5 May 2021, 1:30-5:30 pm (CET), Online

Programme Final Academic Conference (pdf)
Registration Final Academic Conference (Evento platform)

Short report
What is the European Union exactly? What concept could best capture its political and social dynamic? Is it a continent-sized polity in the making with a unique identity or an ongoing cosmopolitan project?
Those seemingly speculative questions turned out to have dramatic consequences in 2015. The peak in the arrival of refugees and migrants (1,25 million) in Europe served as a political catalyst and severely challenged the conception of the EU as a cosmopolitan vanguard. For example, the sudden influx of migrants was unevenly distributed among member states, leading to some bitter negotiations regarding the just assignment of EU’s duties towards them. When the discussion on a potential scheme of resettlement of the newly arrived migrants broke down, it threatened to dismantle one of EU’s main achievements: freedom of movement within the Schengen area. It appeared that, though the European Union was internally cosmopolitan, it was after all a continent with its boundaries. Being externally cosmopolitan proved to be harder to achieve.
On 4-5 May, the NoVaMigra project held its final conference with the goal to shed some light on this theoretical conundrum with dire real-life consequences. It started from the hypothesis that the newfound centrality of the EU in the management of migration invites us to rethink from different perspectives the articulation between cosmopolitanism and European integration.
This conference – held online – gathered a collection of the most distinguished scholars in the fields of border, migration, and European studies as well as political theorists and philosophers researching on the history, models, and contemporary relevance of cosmopolitan tradition. The NoVaMigra research consortium invited them to react to the main upshots and findings of its three-year long investigation on this topic.
During the first panel, Edgar Grande and Jan Zielonka both argued that the European Union ought to be described as an empire rather than a state in the making or a normative power. They underlined its flexible boundaries, its dichotomy between a centre and a periphery as well as its inclination to project its values abroad.
Christine Straehle and David Owen discussed whether the European values were aligned with a philosophy of refuge. They highlighted that the EU had elevated the Geneva Convention to a part of its normative tradition but also pointed out the that the EU had so far failed to live up to this commitment.
During the second day of the conference, we first had the pleasure to have a conversation with Nora El Qadim and Phil Cole on the role of EU’s migration policies within the global governance of migration. The speakers both noted that some of the EU’s member states had actively lobbied to prevent the UN’s Global compacts on migration and asylum to become legally binding. They also highlighted the detrimental effects of EU’s neighbourhood policy and its reluctance to face its colonial past. They concluded that the EU had to rethink its political strategy if it was serious about engaging into a multilateral governance of migration.
And to conclude, Gurminder K. Bhambra and Rainer Bauböck respectfully disagreed with each other with regards to the future of cosmopolitanism in Europe. While Bhambra argued that the European Union should refrain from any claim to universalism before it had confronted its colonial and imperial past, Bauböck suggested that the EU was an innovative political model that could, in spite of its flaws, inspire other efforts to move beyond an international community made of nation-states.

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NoVaMigra has just released its final report Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis. See here for the full report.

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