Over the past few years, political leaders in Europe and elsewhere increasingly link the risk of terrorism to immigration. This includes moderate politicians in countries targeted by terrorism such as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as leaders of states that are less frequently hit by terrorist attacks, such as the Polish president Andrzej Duda. In this context, our article investigates the impact of terrorism on immigration attitudes across Europe. Specifically, we ask whether terrorist attacks can propagate migration concern from targeted countries to their neighbors.
The security environment of the EU is being subjected to unprecedented challenges by new kinds of threat that require new kinds of responses. Migration pressures, hybrid threats, transnational crime and terrorism can only be managed by adopting a comprehensive approach that combines civilian, military, economic and political aspects.
This graphic maps the main routes of irregular migration into Europe during 2017 and the first half of 2018 as well as the top three nationalities of migrants using these routes. For more on changing migration trends and EU migration policy, see Lisa Watanabe’s latest addition to the CSS Analyses in Security Policy series here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics, click here.
Migration is a natural and defining phenomenon of the globalized world. The challenge of governing migration lies in its inevitability, volume, and heterogeneity. As a portion of the global population, migrants represent around 3 percent, but their absolute number is rising. There were 170 million migrants in 2000; today there are roughly 260 million. Migration levels will certainly grow while hostilities continue in the most conflict-ridden regions of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the global wealth gap persists, climate change aggravates living conditions in many areas, and the poorer half of the globe becomes more populous.
The Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, last week issued a plea to his European colleagues for help in dealing with migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Combined with the threat to close off Italian ports to vessels disembarking migrants from search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian government called for more burden-sharing generally in distributing migrants across the EU. This entreaty was reiterated on Sunday, July 2nd, in a meeting of Justice and Home Affairs ministers from Italy, France and Germany. It is certain to feature predominantly at the EU meeting of Justice and Home Affairs ministers on July 6th and 7th.
The background to this call is a marked increase in irregular crossings from Libya to Italy – the so-called Central Mediterranean route – a situation that has been complicated by reports of more than 10,000 refugees and migrants arriving in Italy in recent days. Statistics from Frontex (the EU’s border agency) indicate that arrivals and asylum applications are roughly 25% higher in Italy than at the same time last year (see Figure 1) – a figure that is likely to increase with the release of data from June. First-time asylum seekers in the period from January to April are up by 50%. If arrivals follow a similar pattern to that of previous years, where summer is the prime time for irregular Mediterranean crossings, the EU is likely to hear from Italy again rather soon. Another reason for the plea lies in the lack of implementation – to put it mildly – of the one-off relocation scheme decided in 2015, whereby 35,000 asylum seekers located in Italy are to be distributed among member states before September of this year. Currently, only 7,300 have left Italy under this scheme (EC, 2017).