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Europe and the refugee situation - Human security implications

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The human security implications of the current refugee situation

Intended and unintended consequences of EU policy instruments

Ninna Nyberg Sørensen, Nauja Kleist & Hans Lucht

As the European Union and its member states pursue joint and bilateral policies to meet the dual challenge of managing the current refugee situation, migration management is emerging as a top priority area in various policy fields, including foreign, security and development policy. The emphasis on combatting irregular migration and increasing both external and internal border control may have brought down the number of detected entries to Europe. Yet, these measures have created considerable unintended human security consequences for people on the move in search of security, survival or better livelihood opportunities.

A new DIIS Report takes a closer look at recent EU migration policy instruments (including the controversial EU-Turkey deal) and reviews challenges for human security, for border security and for European geopolitical security. The report concludes that European policy responses to the refugee situation have undermined the human security of those who need it most: people fleeing violent conflicts and other life-threatening situations. The sealing-off of Europe’s external borders have led migrants and refugees to seek out riskier routes and created a hitherto unknown level of human smuggling, driving human mobility underground.

Third country agreements on joint migration management have provided a welcome solution to political pressures to stem migration in the short term. The long-term unintended consequences of striking deals with regimes that otherwise attract criticism are still unclear. There are signs, however, that the containment of migrants and refugees within the territories of such states is becoming a bargaining tool that may act against EU foreign policy interests