Underlying Conditions

War, drought, and conflict in the early to mid 2010s created millions of internationally displaced peoples (IDP) in the Middle East and Africa. Many of which risked their lives in search of asylum in Europe. Hundreds of refugee boats sank and went missing in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to reach the southeastern shores of Europe. Hundreds of thousands also pursued other routes and found temporary settlement in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Libya.

Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the international political norm to prevent humanitarian crisis committed the European Union (EU) to act in order to ensure the human security of as many refugees as possible, and provide them with temporary and permanent housing solutions within all member states of the union.

Conflict Summary

In the past decade, the European Union has faced continuous waves of migration from conflict regions and currently faces a contestation of Euroscepticism and failing refugee societal integration. The logistical obstacles of mass migration into Europe from around the world did prove institutionally, the EU was not prepared for the political and economic bearing of this magnitude. Even in the efforts the EU has made to resolve issues, nationalism and populism are still prominent within the citizen population of member states.

The issue in contention for the citizen population of the EU is security, both physical and constructed in national identity. The more refugees that are accepted by the EU, the more crime and terrorism occurs within the saturation of foreign culture within communities, due to the integration procedural shortcomings. Individual perceptions of identity and foreigners shape the ways in which their communities, state, and the EU assimilate refugees. The states, however, have the power to shape the rhetoric in the favor of successful integration, or complete negligence of migrants.

The EU later made several attempts to disperse refugees throughout Europe under a quota scheme which was somewhat effective but did not solve the problem of effective integration. In addition, over a million refugees became trapped in Turkey while waiting to find transport to Europe. New limitations and border control backed up refugee migration in Turkey which left them with more refugees than they could handle and hurt their relationship with the EU. The number of displaced peoples awaiting transportation is the highest in Turkey, but Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Serbia also face a large influx of displaced people in the height of the conflict. This directly correlates with the protesting and frustrations expressed by both local populations and migrants.


“All States have a right to control their borders and manage irregular movements, but at the same time should refrain from the use of excessive or disproportionate force and maintain systems for handling asylum requests in an orderly manner.”


“Negative developments in the field of asylum and immigration are not addressed in order to prevent a turnaround in public opinion. At the same time, the ruling German political parties have tried to disguise the complete failure of their policies on asylum and immigration of recent years. An open discussion is prevented in this way.”
- Alternative for Germany (AfD) political party

“Britain is an open and tolerant country. We will always want immigration, especially high-skilled immigration, we will always want immigration from Europe, and we will always welcome individual migrants as friends. But the message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. And that is what we will deliver.”

-British Prime Minister Theresa May

“There is one red line that we should not cross. It is a commitment to human rights, the respect of the dignity of the human being. There should be no compromises.”

- German Chancellor Angela Merkel


Critical Thinking Questions

  1. What benefits does the European Union provide by using mandatory quota schemes for the member states?
  2. Should the European Union be allowed to place refugees wherever they want, or should refugees get to choose? What problems could each option pose?
  3. Is the risk of crime and terrorism worth humanitarian aid and providing refugees with shelter?
  4. In what ways can governments better integrate migrants into their society?
  5. Should governments be allowed to demand payments from migrants in return for helping them? Why or why not?
  6. What actions can everyday citizens take to make migrants feel more welcome in their country?

Latest News

RSS European Migrant Crisis

  • Greece’s Moria Tragedy: The Crash Test for the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum September 11, 2020
    The fires that devastated the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos have further raised the stakes for the soon-to-be unveiled EU Pact on Migration and Asylum. If Moria persists as a concept—with asylum seekers prevented from onward movement elsewhere in Europe—this becomes an integral pillar of future EU asylum practice, whatever is […]
    Migration Policy Institute
  • Measuring Up? Using Monitoring and Evaluation to Make Good on the Promise of Refugee Sponsorship June 23, 2020
    A growing number of countries, particularly in Europe, have piloted or implemented refugee sponsorship programs in recent years. Yet there is limited evidence of how well these programs, which tap community members and civil society to take key roles in refugee resettlement, are working and how they can be improved. This issue brief explores how […]
    Migration Policy Institute
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic Suggests the Lessons Learned by European Asylum Policymakers After the 2015 Migration Crisis Are Fading April 22, 2020
    As European asylum systems are tested again by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has injected the need for social distancing during processing and in reception centers, it appears lessons learned during the 2015-16 migration and refugee crisis may be fading. Chief among them: A number of Member States have phased out their buffer capacity. This MPI […]
    Migration Policy Institute
  • Chasing Efficiency: Can Operational Changes Fix European Asylum Systems? March 4, 2020
    Brussels is searching for bright ideas on how to fix the Common European Asylum System. While recent EU-level legal reforms have stalled, this report examines the many innovative, operations-focused approaches Member States have used since the 2015-16 migration crisis to improve registration and reception systems, asylum case processing, and options for returning failed asylum seekers.
    Migration Policy Institute
  • Preparing for the Unknown: Designing Effective Predeparture Orientation for Resettling Refugees April 30, 2019
    Refugees encounter a range of challenges after resettlement—from adjusting to a new culture and language, to finding a job. Many resettlement countries invest in predeparture orientation to help refugees develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to face these challenges. This report explores the many forms these programs take, highlighting important design questions and key elements […]
    Migration Policy Institute
  • Money Wise: Improving How EU Funds Support Migration and Integration Policy Objectives March 26, 2019
    European policymakers are negotiating the blueprint for the next EU funding cycle—a plan that will determine how much money is available for migration and integration aims, what it can be used for, and who can access it. This policy brief explores some of the limitations of EU funds, as well as strategies that could help […]
    Migration Policy Institute
  • Deciding Which Road to Take: Insights into How Migrants and Refugees in Greece Plan Onward Movement August 21, 2018
    EU policy debates about moving asylum seekers from overburdened frontline countries, such as Greece and Italy, to other Member States rarely consider how migrants form and act on preferences for certain destinations—and how difficult it may be to change these views. This issue brief explores decision-making among migrants in Greece, including how living conditions, jobs, […]
    Migration Policy Institute


Conflict Assessment


European Migrant Crisis

Sep 05

Refugee Camp Burns Down

Within the Moria Camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, refugees frustrated with the quarantine conditions of COVID-19 are said to have started several fires in the camp, ultimately leaving thousands without shelter.Continue Reading


Jan 05

Record Lows

The EU recorded its lowest migrant arrival statistics in 5 years.Continue Reading


Aug 01

German Reunification Law

Germany passed legislation to reunite refugee families, allowing 1000 family members to enter. This individual centered policy likely initiated a healing process for many frustrated refugees in Germany.Continue Reading


Jun 23


The UK’s BREXIT Referendum passed with a popular vote of 52% in favor of leaving the EU. A significant portion of “leave voters” were attributed to EU immigration policy and English nationalism, a hard blow to the EU system stability and their efforts.Continue Reading

Mar 02

Turkey and NATO

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, frustrated over insufficient funding, threatened to send millions of refugees from Turkey to the EU. NATO agreed to send a patrol of three ships to aid Turkish refugee transport. NATO’s Supreme Commander in Europe claimed that Russia and the Assad regime in Syria were usingContinue Reading


Nov 13

Terrorists Smuggled in with Refugees

Paris terror attacks perpetrated by terrorists entering Europe with migrants kill 130 civilians. Stances on migrants and the vetting process are challenged. New limits and border checks throughout the EU beginContinue Reading

Nov 11

The Valleta Summit on Migration

The Valleta Summit on Migration, held in Malta, developed an Emergency Trust Fund with African leaders to redirect new refugees and relocate other refugees into African states.Continue Reading

Sep 22


A EU interior ministers meeting in the Justice and Home Affairs Council relocates 120,000 refugees EU-wide. EU states and three non-EU states held an emergency summit in Brussels a month later making 100,000 more spaces in refugee centers.Continue Reading

Sep 05

Open-Arms of Germany

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced that there are “no limits on the number of asylum seekers” Germany will take in.Continue Reading

Sep 01

Protests and Demonstrations

Throughout the month of September, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations in support of refugees and migrants in several European cities. Thousands also took part in demonstrations against mass immigration in Warsaw, Prague, and Bratislava.Continue Reading

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