EU Politics and the Problem of Western Ideology

Event Date: 

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 12:00am

Syrian refugees strike in front of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis.

Syrian refugees strike in front of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis.


By Joshua Salazar

For most of the 20th century the EU dialogue surrounding migration was largely focused on internal migration as a spillover from the implementation of the single market. A different type of migration, however, has manifested over the past few years as refugees began immigrating across EU borders. The ongoing social, political, and economic instability of countries such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Syria have displaced countless individuals—dawning the European immigration crisis.

This then begs the questions: how have the EU and member states responded to the continuing waves of unauthorized immigrants into the EU? I believe that the European migration crisis has begun to change the views of EU member states, and thus led them to pursue more nationalist agendas, due to their—deeply rooted—Christian and Western ideologies in society, politics, and culture.

France, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Sweden, and England have not only expressed deep concerns, but also strong, nationalist, right-wing responses to the European migration crisis. As a result member states (i.e. Hungary or Slovenia) have responded to the crisis by closing their borders or raising walls in order to hinder “foreign” immigrants from entering into the European Union.

This has ultimately been a masked attempt to perpetuate the continuity of a single national identity, and a Western-rooted society and culture. The increasing tensions, anti-immigration sentiment, and reluctance among many member states to solve the migration crisis, also reflects their attempt to supersede the European Commission’s legislative efforts.

Ultimately, these efforts convey member states’ pursuit of a supranationalist agenda. Hence, member states’ pursuit of a single nationalist agenda has been a popular strategy to reinforce the Western ideology of genealogical and cultural dominance. Member states may use rhetoric and argue that the dramatic influxes of Middle-Eastern or African refugees are threatening economic, labor, and social stability.

These responses, however, are an explicit but also an indirect means to further the Western project on preserving Christian culture. Not only do these negative responses prolong the immigration debate and hinder the harmonization of immigration policy reform with the Commission, it too creates a massive legislative gridlock within the EU’s executive branch. Ultimately, member states fear that these “foreign” migrants would undermine Western and Christian discourse.

Britain, for centuries, has continuously checked the Commission’s legislative assertions and have too followed a more unilateral agenda. In order to underscore Britain's deeply rooted Christian identity it is worth examining their responses to the migration crisis. The recent appointment of Theresa May and the widening support for Britain’s Conservative Party further highlights their pursuit and preservation of a Western identity but also the perpetuation of nationalist ideology.

For example, Britain has refused to adopt the Euro (€) and said that they will leave the European Union (also known as “Brexit”); however, one of the catalysts for “Brexit” has been the recent European migration crisis. Thus, “Brexit” both conveys Britain’s fear that Middle Eastern and African immigrants will taint their Western lifestyle, but it also conveys their continuous approach towards a solely Western discourse.

The European migration crisis continues to test the EU’s solidarity, immigration policies, but also the regulations of multinational migration. However, member states have repeatedly —directly and indirectly—expressed their anti-immigration sentiments in order to preserve their Western identities.

In doing so, member states have elected and or increased their support for right-wing, conservative, and nationalist leaders such as Britain, France, or Hungary. These dramatic political changes offset and heighten the tensions with the Commission—who has tried to harmonize multinational immigration policies and increase the solidarity among member states.

Many member states have also begun to pursue single, nationalist, and conservative agendas; ultimately this masks, or rather serves as a cloak, to perpetuate Western culture, identity, and ideology. Therefore, instating strict border controls and enacting anti-immigration responses undermines global solidarity, and it also reinforces the West’s domination over the rest.