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Migration and integration: What does being European mean in 2020?

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People leave their home countries for all kinds of valid reasons: they want to study elsewhere, they are persecuted, they get an important job offer, their country is in war or they fall in love with someone of a different nationality or living elsewhere. As the world is becoming more interconnected, people may be moving more than ever before. European societies are becoming increasingly diverse with first, second and third generation migrants from European and non-European countries.

 

How do we foster a common sense of being European through policies and programmes which will facilitate intercultural friendships, marriages and children beyond the existing communities?

Is it even necessary to have common values in order to share an identity with someone?

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The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.
Briefing, June 2019

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Miguel Alonso
12 April 2020

Nowadays, specially now with the unfortunate arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are able to see that our world is extremely interconnected. Since 2011 we have seen the arrival of thousands of refugees and economic immigrants who came to Europe (or tried to) just to have a stable job to feed their family. From the commercial point of view we are increasingly open towards the international market... but on the last decade this events, this globalization, have been the main causes of the increasing presence of national-populist movements, protectionism and an unfortunate unilateralism when the time comes to take decisions. President Von der Leyen talked about the "European way of life"... so what does it mean to be European in this interconnected world which is being contested by the most reactionary sectors of our societies?

We need to think that such thing as a "European identity" does not exist, yet (at a large scale). Despite our connections and the increasing multiculturalism, the nationalist forces have fought against the creation of a common identity that would be able to reinforce even more our exchanges in every domain (cultural, economic, social...). In order to create such a common identity it is necessary to increase the number of cultural and social exchanges within the European nations. The Erasmus+ program has been proved to be the best way to create strong relationship beyond national borders, and that's why we must enlarge this program (or create other programs following the same idea) for the entire population. High school students, workers, people with disabilities should also be able to develop their skills in another European country by exchanging with other fellow Europeans. By financing this academic and cultural programs we will return to the best idea of Europe: a continent with a strong cultural life able to create a common sense of belonging to a community outside the borders of the old nations. That's the Europe we must have: the Europe of exchange, culture, traditions but also development and modernity. In other words, the Europe dreamed during the Enlightenment century.

The new arrivals must also be able to take advantage of this openness. The main problem of the extremist groups is that they see the foreign populations as a danger for our culture, to our christian (roman, greek and hebrew) roots. To tackle this preoccupation, the immigrants, who simply want to support our societies by working ,must have the opportunity to integrate within such lifestyle. It is clear, and we need to accept it we want it or not, that many new comers see their origin in a country, a culture, that does not necessarily believe in our conception of Human Rights, equality between men and women, freedom of religion or freedom to love whoever someone wants... That's why, following the example of many Nordic countries, we need to increase the founding of programs allowing this immigrants to receive a strong education specially focused on the language and the civic values to allow them to better integrate within our society without problems of discrimination. This will show that being European does not depend on your ethnicity, religion or origin but on the values of freedom, equality, integration and respect towards the others (and also, obviously, respect towards our traditions and historical culture).

Ivan
20 May 2020

Hello,

my name is Ivan, I am a 21 years old law student.

I sincerely think that EU should stop illegal migrants at our borders. The situation here in Croatia is terrible because of them while noone talks about it. Please stop illegal migrants at all cost, not just because out safety but also because of our way of life and coulture, "they" will never be welcome.

Thank you,

Ivan

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