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The futur of the EU

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The Effect of the Syrian Refugee Crisis on the European Union

Julien Tan

University of South Carolina Aiken

        Since 2011, more than 5 million people have left Syria which has a population of 23 million people. This is because of the Syrian civil war. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2013) (UNHCR), Syria has the highest number of applicants for refugee status, which accounts at 34% of the Syrian population. The UNHCR has recorded 4 million refugees; however, according to a study from Saint-Joseph University, Beyrouth, 20% of refugees are not recorded. Officially, Lebanon has taken 1.2 million refugees, Jordan has taken 1 million, double the amount of Turkey, and 300,000 are in Iraq. These countries no longer welcome these refugees for many reasons, and force them to move somewhere else. As a result, people fleeing Syria are now attempting to get to Europe in order to find better living conditions. However, this is not without consequences. It results in many issues that face the European Union (EU). In order to get a better understanding of the EU’s future, it is important to analyze why these refugees are going to Europe. It is also important to evaluate the economic and political impact of this migration on the EU.

        The UNHCR and other organizations from the United Nations are present to help the refugees, but also the local structures that are receiving them. Also, there is now a lack of financial help. In December 2014, the World Food Program announced that it could no longer finance food aid to Syrian refugees. EU financial assistance provided refugees with support over the winter 2014. However, every year donors are less generous. This is because, since the Syrian refugee crisis, the international community has faced many other crises that require their attention and resources as well. The situation of millions of Syrian refugees that are displaced in Syria has become catastrophic. The UNHCR is no more capable of distributing food rations than the EU. There is a lack of resources, the number of beneficiaries is reduced for women and children, and the amounts were reduced from $30 per person per month in 2015 to $19 today. This only allows for buying bread and rice. The Lebanese authorities require a residence permit for refugees over 14 years that costs $360 per year (against $200 in 2014). Refugees interviewed in Tripoli, Lebanon testified their anger in a survey, in September 2014. They said that they had lost everything in Syria, they considered themselves betrayed by the West and the Gulf countries that would have pushed the revolt, and they are now deprived of any dignity. Some told of their intentions to join jihadist groups, such as the so called Islamic State, ISIS, because they feel that it is a way to regain their dignity (OBS, 2015).

        Vaudano (2015) showed that the future looks as bleak for those of Syria if the international community does not help to find a solution to the conflict. They should try to make something similar to the Marshall Plan to rebuild the country. Fighting continues, although it seems that none of them can seem to win, while ISIS settles permanently.  Half of the Syrian population had to leave their home, they have little hope of a quick return, so they seek refuge in safe areas where they can ensure a future for their children. Arab Gulf countries only welcome the rich, so the EU is now faced with a potential refugee influx.

        According to Vaudano (2015) as a result of this migration, the European Union faces many issues. The impact of this migration is not without consequence. Facing the migration the EU acts against its foundation. For example, the Schengen agreement stipulated the free flow of people around most of the EU. However, the United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen zone, which makes the movement of refugees more difficult. Britain does not condone France action at Calais, and settled a barrier in order to secure the channel tunnel. In fact, there is a refugee camp at Calais, where refugees stay before they often attempt to go to England. Henceforth, walls are multiplying in Europe, this is seen in Hungary, a transit country to Germany. It has made a barrier border with Serbia. Romania will also reinforce its borders. In 2012, Greece had built a wall on the Turkish border, forcing refugees to cross via the sea. Even more relevant, states re-settle controls at their borders into the Schengen Space itself in order to stop the refugee’s movement. For instance, the border between Italy and France has been closed since June 2015, which should stop migrants from entering into France. Moreover, in August, at the end of the Balkan route, Austria has reinforced the controls at its border with the Eastern Europe.

        Another issue is the politics concerning the asylum defined by Dublin’s agreements in 2013. These agreements state that the support for the migrants is made by the countries where they enter into the EU. This system is largely criticized because, in general, the refugees do not stay in the same country they enter, such as Italy and Greece. The refugees usually settle in countries like Germany, Sweden and United Kingdom. This is due to the fact that the other countries do not have the same politics toward the asylum seekers. As a result, in May 2015, the European Commission launched the idea to settle a quota for two years for each country into the EU in order to relieve Italy and Greece. According to the European Commission, this quota will depend on many factors, such as the domestic population, wealth, and the unemployment rate. However, many countries, like Spain, are against this proposal. As a result, this proposal was abandoned and replaced by voluntary engagement. In default of an equitable host mechanism, Angela Merkel, the Germany chancellor, estimates that the agreements about the free circulation into the EU are threatened. It would break the fundamental pillars of the EU, which permits the free flow of people around Europe (OBS, 2015).

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