At the beginning of the century, the United Nations Population Division published an executive summary titled: "Replacement Migration: Is It a Solution to Declining and Ageing." The study, which emphasised the need for the EU to welcome 80 million migrants by 2050, aimed to contribute to the public debate on an issue that, back then, had not been identified as a "phenomenon": Namely, the migrant/refugee issue.
This phenomenon is not new. On the contrary, it is closely tied to the history of humankind. However, particularly in Europe, it emerges under new circumstances, such as lack of reliability within European institutions, the economic crisis, and the absence of a single, foreign policy and security policy by the EU member states. In particular, the absence of significant development, the rise of Euroscepticism and the EU's failure to intervene -- in the ongoing civil war in Syria, for example -- create an environment that makes it difficult to address the migration/refugee issue.
It's become clear that quantitative and qualitative solutions to the current refugee/immigrant phenomenon require a collective European response, with a fair share of responsibility. A roadmap is needed to tackle the phenomenon that has "shaped our world and will define our future."
We need to break the Dublin Regulation and present a new model of migration/refugee policy and a single asylum system. What we need is a policy that would support and assist the development of relations with the countries of origin or transit, such as Turkey and Jordan in the Middle East or Morocco and Libya in Africa, in order to reduce the influx of refugees and migrants.
The refugee/migration phenomenon is here to stay, and it will require specific initiatives and actions, not just words. Europe must act collectively, rather than individually.
The refugee/migration phenomenon is here to stay, and it will require specific initiatives and actions, not just words. Europe must act collectively, rather than individually. Currently, certain countries, such as Italy and Greece, are bearing the burden of the reception of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants.
There is an urgent need today for this multi-level action, as, current policies (Dublin) and current reactions (closing borders, building fences and xenophobic behavior) cultivate fertile ground for snake eggs to hatch. This process is completed quite rapidly by the countries driving the European project, namely Germany (the recent results in Berlin are really significant) and France (the rising of Marine Le Pen is becoming increasingly important).
Thus, immediate, coordinated action by international organisations, national governments and local authorities is needed to address a twofold problem: the reception and integration of migrants/refugees into European societies. This will only be achieved by tackling individual issues, such as integration into the labour market and the provision of educational and social needs.
In conclusion, the migrant/refugee crisis currently seems to be that red thread between the UN, the 'Parliament of Man' (Paul Kennedy) and local authorities in EU member states. As a matter of fact, this year, for the first time in its history, the UN dedicated its General Assembly meeting to the refugee/migration issue.
This red thread will define the future of the EU: The challenge of stimulating a process of osmosis between national governments and local authorities in order for them to take action on the refugee/migration issue is becoming a key factor. The migration/refugee issue proves to be a matter of democracy, for it raises the question of the dwindling credibility of European institutions.
"The only way to get democracy in Europe is through a deepening of European co-operation," Jürgen Habermas said in a recent interview. That cooperation is the holistic response to the refugee/migration phenomenon.
This post first appeared on HuffPost Greece. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.