With the economy in a mess, have European states become hostile to inter-EU immigration and open borders?
In light of the word economic crisis in 2008, the European Union has faced many challenges. For those in Europe and others looking from outside the continent, the economic crisis has hindered the unity of the European Union. From the social unrest in Greece which has even resulted in the deaths of citizens, to the mass protests in Spain led by the “indignados”, both are two prime examples of the consequences of poor economic performances in each of the countries. The unemployment rates in Europe as a whole has increased as a result of the poor performance of the euro, consequently leading to social unrest between nationals and migrants.
Spain has become the first member state to activate the clause of the accession treaties of Romanian and Bulgarian acceptance into the European Union in 2007 where it restricts the free movement of workers from both nations. There are 11 other member nations that also want to pursue this decision made by Spain. Also in Denmark the government has agreed to enforce the tougher checks at it’s border control with Germany and Sweden, as a result of a growing nationalist movement in the country. Italy and France have also realised a joint letter proposing the modification of the Schengen rules, which in will introduce internal border controls.
All these examples that have been pointed out highlight that there is a degree of unrest within Europe; the domino effect of economic problems which consists of unemployment increasing, social unrest followed by the rise of nationalism is taking place in a lot of European countries. This is highlighted through the growth in support of far right political parties, particularly in the Nordic states. The rise of far right parties in the European Union has meant that anti-immigration policies will emerge in a lot of nation states. The decisions by government s to restrict the movement of Europeans, suggest a lack of confidence in the European institutions.
The economic crisis has created a lot of problems for the EU institutions. However after the long and reluctant process for the ratification of the Lisbon treaty, it is unlikely that states would agree to hand over more power to European institutions in order to stop the economic decline in member countries. If anything the current economic strains of the European Union seems to have created a sense of weariness around the continent. Take Germany for example; viewed as the backbone of the euro due to the positive performances of the Germany economy, it has contributed a lot to the bail lout payment from the European Union in order to salvage the Greek economy. However Germans have voiced an opinion that Greece should sort its own problem out. This feeling represents the separatist nature of member states dealing with economic problems, with the feeling that halting migration flow will ensure migrants are not taking jobs that a national could instead have.
The economic crisis has certainly created a mood of instability within Europe, with doubts of whether or not the structures of the European institutions have the ability to cope with the economic challenges. Consequently making nation states to seek their own governments to try and sort out these issues as opposed to collectively working together.