Category Archives: Europe

The Trump Effect: Could Trump Cause a Backlash against the Rise of Populist Parties in Europe?

By Devon Winsor

Just as President Donald Trump’s far right ideals have galvanized support in the United States, a rise in similar ideals has occurred in Europe as well. The success of the United Kingdom Independence Party’s campaign to leave the European Union, the rise of Marie Le Pen and the National Front in France and the Five Star Movement in Italy, are just three of a multitude of examples of the resurgence of far right parties and ideals in Europe. These groups have seized momentum after President Trump’s surprising win in the U.S., citing his victory as a reason for their future success. President Trump’s win also illustrated to the parties’ supporters that citizens around the world share their views and concerns. However, Trump’s controversial vernacular during his campaign, specifically about women, and his subsequent policies implemented during his first few weeks in office have caused a backlash in Europe that could be detrimental to these far right parties.

The Women’s March the day after President Trump’s inauguration did not only occur in cities throughout America, but in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Barcelona, and many other cities across Europe. According to CNN, approximately 100,000 people participated in the Women’s March in London, and the Mayor of London even spoke out condemning President Trump’s views on Islam. These responses to Trump in a region unaffected by President Trump’s laws regarding women indicate the growth of unity against the principles that President Trump represents. Although the European far right parties that have seen an increase in support over the past few years do not threaten women’s rights, their alignment with President Trump could cause a backlash from a group otherwise unaffected by their policies.
Furthermore, President Trump’s controversial executive order that banned immigration from seven majority Muslim countries was met with disdain in Europe as well. Immigration has remained one of the most important and controversial issues in the European Union, especially after the refugee crisis, and it has been one of the main causes in the rise of the far right parties. For example, in a study performed by the British Election Study Team, the most prominent concern for British voters that desired to leave the European Union was immigration. This is the topic in which President Trump’s policies most aligned with the far right parties and their supporters. However, leaders throughout Europe have criticized Trump’s Muslim ban, including Angel Merkel, Theresa May and Francois Hollande.

These leaders, however, represent mainstream politics and their opinion is most likely not highly valued by those that already support the far right parties particularly because his ban has been praised by the leaders of the movement. Therefore, President Trump’s policies may not impact the support for the far right parties, but they could unite other groups against these parties, improving voter turnout in favor of other candidates in order to prevent these parties from gaining power.

In particular, Trump’s policies may galvanize momentum for politically disengaged citizens in Europe that have more centrist political views. President Trump’s policies have been considered some of the most divisive policies in history, being criticized by politicians and other public figures throughout the world, yet his successful campaign indicates that his values resonate with citizens. Thus, considering how divisive the current political climate remains, European citizens who may otherwise not engage in politics may feel the need to become involved in order to prevent similar policies from being implemented, especially after seeing the results of the Muslim ban, which were highly publicized in the media, with a particular focus on Muslims who could no longer return to their home in the U.S.

Despite the fact that polling in favor of the far right movements such as the National Front has remained strong, the future decline of these groups may be imminent. President Trump’s divisive nature could awaken a group of citizens in Europe that have seen the results of his policies and desire to prevent them from spreading to Europe. Those that already support strict immigration laws will continue to praise President Trump, but they may not realize that aligning themselves with someone as divisive as President Trump could cause citizens who prioritize other political issues, such as women’s rights, to more vocally support opposition parties.

EU’s Immigration Policy Leads to Migrant Deaths

By Nicholas Trevino

The European Union’s xenophobic immigration policy has empowered dangerous Libyan smugglers that fuel Libya’s war economy and traffic Sub-Saharan African migrants. Prior to 2011, the European Union (EU) built Libyan immigration institutions to reduce potential refugees, trafficking victims, and mixed migrants ability to reach Europe. After Libya collapsed, EU policy has continued to deny migrant’s access to safe and legal migration facilitators, which has pushed them into the hands of militias and smugglers exploiting Libya’s low stateness. Since 2013, the EU has cynically tried to reduce the increasing number of mixed migrants by defunding Mare Nostrum, a successful naval program that rescues drowning migrants. As a result, Nigerians fleeing conflict sometimes drown before reaching Europe and petitioning for refugee status. By making it more difficult to reach Europe, desperate mixed migrants grow more dependent on unsafe and illegitimate smugglers and traffickers. The EU must stop cutting migrant’s access to safe migration paths if it wants reduce smuggling and migrant deaths.

Prior to 2011, the EU partnered with Libya to prevent migrants from reaching European countries. In 2000 IOM, EU and Italy provided Libya with border surveillance military equipment and training to prevent migrants from entering or leaving Libya. By 2003, the EU began expanding transit-processing centers on Libyan soil to reduce the number of spontaneous asylum requests, de facto withdrawing from the 1951 UN refugee convention. Amnesty International condemned ex-situ transit-process centers for reducing international law’s protections for refugees. International law guarantees that if a mixed migrant reaches a nation’s soil, then they can petition for refugee status and the government cannot immediately force them to return to their country. Transit processing centers on Libyan soil don’t fall under international law’s refugee protections, forcing many mixed migrants to resort to smuggling networks in order to reach Europe.

After Libya collapsed, the EU eliminated programs that reduced migrant drownings to reduce the number of migrants petitioning for refugee protections. From October 2013-October 2014, Italy operated the Mare Nostrum program to help prevent migrant deaths. In that time, Mare Nostrum rescued an estimated 130,000 people at sea. After October 2014, Frontex replaced Mare Nostrum for Trident, which reduced funding by 8.4 million USD. Under Mare Nostrum, Lampedusa had “five big ships,” but Trident only has “one large vessel and three small patrol boats.” Mare Nostrum’s rescue range has decreased from 70,000 kilometers total to only 30 miles off Italy’s coast. Manpower decreased from 900 military personnel to just 65 officers. The UK claimed that Mare Nostrum “creat[ed] an unintended ‘pull factor,’ encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.” Frontex has provided no empirical support for this conclusion. In fact, Andrijasevic, a labour migration scholar, argues that to support their family from Europe, migrants will attempt many crossings even after they are denied entry or forcibly removed. Many migrants’ families accrue large debts to allow migrants to travel, which motivates them to not give up on their journey despite physical barriers. Perilous conditions do not seem to prevent migrants from attempting Mediterranean crossings, and since cancelling the program, migrants continue to risk their lives to reach Europe—now under even riskier conditions.

European immigration policy helps facilitate Sub-Saharan mixed migrants’ increasing reliance on the smugglers and militias that exploit Libya’s statelessness. Libya’s war economy blurs the line between militias and smugglers as they often work together to smuggle and traffic humans. Smugglers reportedly pay militias bribes ranging from 100 USD to pass a checkpoint to 20,000 USD a month to secure a departure zone. Militias provide smugglers increased legitimacy, security, and access to roads, while smugglers help fund militias. The government can’t stop smuggling because it would diminish their already tenuous legitimacy, hurt their many co-opted militias, and weaken the anemic Libyan economy. As a result, Frontex reported 21,772 migrants heading from Libya on the central Mediterranean route. While price estimates greatly vary based the migrant’s ethnicity, most migrants pay between 1000-2000 USD to cross the Mediterranean. About 200 migrants fit on each boat, at about 1,600 USD per person, meaning most boats gross smugglers about 320,000 USD. If EU immigration policy allowed Sub-Saharan African migrants access legitimate paths to immigration, then the EU could cut money flowing into Libya’s war economy from smuggling.

Libya’s growing smuggling market has increased the number of Nigerian mixed migrants attempting to reach Europe putting them at risk of debt trafficking. Based on open source estimates, Agadez, a transit city for migrants, has seen about 4 times as much migration as pre-2011 Gadhafi levels. Between May 3-9, 51,225 individuals came from Niger to Libya, which accounted for 64% migrants leaving Niger. In 2011-2013 Nigerians were not in the top ten most likely nationalities to “illegally” cross the border. During 2013’s first two quarters Nigerian Illegal border crossing (IBCs) stood at 345, but in 2013’s last two quarters, Nigerian IBCs jumped up to 3041 people. In 2014, there were 8,715 Nigerian detections, and 25,722 “unidentified sub-Saharan nations.”  Following this trend, 2015 saw the largest increase in Nigerians “illegally” crossing the border at 23,609.

Incentivizing migrants to use unsafe and illegal routes to the EU stigmatizes and isolates migrants placing them at debt-trafficking risk. Migrants take out large amounts of debt to fund their mixed migration from moneylenders who charge exploitative rates and obtain counterfeit documents. Traffickers lie about the size of debt, easy to pay off the debt, capriciously add to the debt, and limit the trafficked person’s ability to send money home until they repay the debt. As a result, in-debt migrants often don’t understand how much money traffickers claim they owe, and lack access to legal means to extricate themselves from bondage. Depending on the route and the documents forged, debts for trafficked Nigerian women range from EUR 35,000–60,000, which takes 2-5 years to pay off. It takes longer if the trafficked woman requires an abortion from sex-work, which can result in a EUR 10,000 fine from some traffickers.

If the EU wants its immigration policy to match its human rights rhetoric then it must accept more refugees, provide resources for migrants and asylum seekers, and stop cutting safe access for migrants to cross into Europe.

Featured image from Wikipedia