The recent migrant crisis has brought longstanding tensions in Europe’s immigration and integration policies to the forefront. This is compounded by a concern in Europe and the United States that hosting refugees and migrants from fragile and conflict-affected states in the Middle East and North Africa region may increase risks of homegrown terror attacks. Beyond a military or intelligence response, we believe the United States and Europe need to develop a holistic approach towards their development, migration and integration policies, as success in each field is interlinked. A more integrated approach can aid in the prevention of homegrown extremism and the resolution of humanitarian crises abroad. Improving human rights and economic opportunity abroad can curb migration, while integration at home also serves in the interest of our policies abroad.
1. Meeting Official Development Assistance Commitments
The United States and Europe are generally expected to take the lead when international crises arise, but member countries are not always able or willing to devote the necessary resources due to domestic political and financial considerations. Foreign aid represents an important preventative option that is more cost-effect over the long-term. Small, continuous investments in development projects that address some of the root causes of conflict, political violence, migration, and other challenges will be less painful than dealing with the fallout of major international crises ex post facto. The European Union and the United States currently are the top two aid donors, but more can be done – both in terms of resources and in terms of effectiveness. In relation to aid contribution, a good place to start would be to reach a minimum standard of developmental aid. The UK has for instance enshrined into law the 1970 United Nations commitment for OECD nations to spend at least .7% of their gross national income on foreign aid. In 2015, only six OECD nations met this goal. While not all nations may be willing to legislate their ODA expenditures, it is nevertheless in the interest of all members of the transatlantic community to invest more in foreign aid development, particularly projects promoting good governance, sustainable development and poverty alleviation, and education. This is not only in line with transatlantic values and our leadership position, but will in the long-term also prove as a cost-saving measure.
2. Sharing Refugee Asylum Commitments
The massive outflow of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa over the past two years has tested the capacity and willingness of the United States and European Union member states’ to keep their doors open to refugees. A closed immigration policy would only undermine the West’s moral authority on the international stage. In this regard, Germany has provided leadership, pledging to give asylum to 50,000 refugees (half of the EU total), and is projected to provide asylum to thousands more. However, it is imperative that the responsibility of offering asylum to refugees is more equally distributed across transatlantic actors. In order to do this it is key for asylum classifications and policies to converge among transatlantic states, including through greater alignment and standardization of refugee screening processes.
3. Looking Toward One Another to Reassess Integration Efforts for Immigrants
Finally, while the European community has taken a significant role in offering asylum to refugees, many have struggled to successfully integrate refugees afterwards. Steady employment provides immigrants a sense of belonging and financial security that is key to integration. Unfortunately, Amnesty International finds that there is recurring employment discrimination against Muslims in multiple European countries. Beyond providing immigrants with the tools to integrate and find decent employment, EU and EU member states’ agencies need to promote and enforce equal opportunity policies. The United States has been relatively better at integrating and assimilating immigrants, as a nation of immigrants which has strong civic as opposed to ethno-national views of citizenship. European countries, though strong in rhetoric on liberal values, need to develop more inclusive societal narratives and self-images, which incorporate immigrants into public life and promote diversity. While President Trump could derail some of the normative values in the US, its legal and institutional protections for religious expression and nondiscrimination can still be a model for the European community.
Jessica Collins was a 2015-2016 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship recipient in Serbia and she is currently pursuing her M.A in International Relations from the Freie Universität Berlin.
Jason Cowles is a current M.A. candidate in International Relations at Freie Universität Berlin and is committed to revitalizing public diplomacy in the 21st century.
Michael David Harris is a Civil Affairs Specialist in the Army Reserve and teaches foreign policy to high school students in Chicago, IL.
Haven Hightower is an Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia on European Policy & European Parliament.
Mpaza Kapembwa is a 2015 graduate of Williams College and is currently enrolled in Georgia’s Tech’s International Affairs M.A. Program.
Ingmar Sturm is a graduate student of International Relations at Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany; he founded an NGO, “Island Ark Project”, to help climate refugees.
Jiayi Zhou is a Researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI); she was a Atlantis Transatlantic Fellow in 2011-2013.