Guarini Institute Hosts Panel: "The EU and the Refugee Emergency"

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On Wednesday, October 7, the Guarini Institute of Public Affairs hosted its first panel discussion of the semester: “The European Union and the Refugee Emergency”. Guest speakers H.E. Damir Grubiša, the Croatian Ambassador to Italy, and Dr. István Hegedűs, President of the Hungarian Europe Society, were joined on the panel by Professors Pál Belényesi and Andrea Pirro. After an opening statement from JCU President Franco Pavoncello, moderator Professor Lars Rensmann began the evening’s discussion.

Professor Andrea Pirro and Dr. István Hegedűs

Professor Andrea Pirro and Dr. István Hegedűs

Ambassador Grubiša spoke first, discussing how the refugee crisis caught the European Union unprepared due to its “restrictive policies and few mechanisms for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.. He mainly criticized the ineffectiveness of the 1990 Dublin Regulation, revised in 2013, in which asylum seekers must remain in the first European country they enter.

Following Ambassador Grubiša’s argument on the need for new European regulations for refugees, Dr. István Hegedűs focused on the Hungarian dimension of the crisis. He was concerned with the fact that four Eastern European countries, including Hungary, did not adopt the refugee quota resolution, probably due to the fear of losing their sovereignty. He also argued that Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian Prime Minister, and his party Fidesz had already introduced a xenophobic billboard campaign before the crisis (i.e. post-Charlie Hebdo attack).

Next, Professors Andrea Pirro presented empirical evidence to argue that “there is not a straightforward relationship between the levels of immigration and the success of radical right parties in Europe.” Using Sweden as an example, he explained how the country recently experienced a rise of the radical right parties, even though a poll showed 48 percent of the population in Sweden reacted positively to the crisis by wanting to host more refugees.

Croatian Ambassador H.E. Damir Grubiša

Croatian Ambassador H.E. Damir Grubiša

Closing the discussion, Professor Belényesi addressed the economic dimension of the crisis. He argued that the effects of migration are not so evidently positive, and that in Europe, the current wave of migrants has to be treated with caution, although the general effects are not more negative than positive. His research proved that the net fiscal impact of immigration (i.e. the ratio between the taxes immigrants pay and the services they receive) in the UK is positive, meaning that immigrants, especially those coming from the European Economic Area, positively contribute to the growth of the country. With respect to the difficulties that migration could create, Prof.Belényesi underlined that if a common EU integration policy is not put in action, tensions will indeed arise – as data shows – due to the fact of lack of integration with local societies, radicalism and high unemployment among the migrants.

Read the interview with Dr. István Hegedűs on Rai News (in Italian)