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Refugee Crisis

The European Union (EU) is an economic as well as a political union that is made up of twenty-eight European countries. The Union was created after the Second World War to raise economic collaboration between the member countries (The European Union, 2017). The European Union initially known as European Economic Community (ECC) founded in 1958 among six European countries. The founding nations were France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands Germany, and Luxembourg. The Union created a large single market which reduced and ultimately removed tariff and non-tariff hurdles allowing the free flow of products or services, labour, capital entrepreneurship and land among the member countries. Initially, the EU was purely for economic progression but with time adjusted to accommodate health, security, migration, justice and external relations hence becoming a political union among the European nations aimed at forging and developing stronger ties towards economically and politically stable continent. The European Union is endowed on the dictate of law and governed by the value of representative democracy in the European Council (European Parliament, 2017). The EU has been credited with the continent’s economic prosperity, peace and stability for over a half century hence awarded Nobel peace prize in 2012. EU encourages and upholds democracy, reconciliation, human rights and peace in the continent. This paper explores the significant challenges facing EU currently.

Despite the tremendous accomplishment that the EU has achieved over the years, the Union has been confronted with some problems which have hindered the efforts of the union of making its governments more democratic, transparent, and maintenance of economic stability. First EU is braved by global refugee crunch mostly from the conflict in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Albania, Ukraine, and poverty in Kosovo. In 2015, over a million migrants, displaced persons and refugees managed to get into Europe (European Commission, 2016). The increase of political instability and the search for better Economic prospects has seen the rise of people entering European causing security concerns and stretching the member countries resources. The provision of emergency humanitarian services such as legal aid, food, clean water, healthcare, and shelter needs to the illegal migrants has often overwhelmed the European Union capacity. The EU member countries have demonstrated stark inequality in responding to the refugee crisis given the more wealthier nation are willing to let a few number of asylum seekers in their countries compared to the middle-income nations (Amnesty International, 2016). For example, the disproportional problem confronted by Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Norway, and Finland compared to that of United Kingdom, Spain, Poland and Greece has raised tension in EU.  A balanced formula based on a countries wealth, unemployment rates, population size among other key factors would form a reasonable basis for spreading the problem equitably. However, the number of refugees running from the wars that are granted asylum in any of the European countries are far too low against the asylum claims made persisting the refugee challenge as no workable strategy has been outlined and implemented (BBC, 2016).

Economic Instability

In 2008, the European economy sank into historical recession ever experienced since 1930 causing the economic growth of Europe to shrink by a 4% margin in 2009. The turmoil that was encountered in the financial markets escalated into significant financial stress which was heralded by an extended period of rapid credit growth, full accessibility of liquidity, low-slung risk premium robust leveraging and spiralling asset rates (European Commission, 2009). The events of 2008 resulted in a sharp commercial activities decline, and commodity prices were at the lowest from the time that the Euro the common currency was launched for EU economic block. In its initial stages, the financial problem presented itself as a huge shortage of cash among financial institutions where long-term financing was not available. During this time many financial institutions were faced by solvency challenges which threaten to collapse them. The collapse of Lehman Brothers Investment Bank in September 2008 changed the perception of systematic failure which had been deemed unlikely. The failure caused loss of investors’ confidence who in large numbers moved to liquate their investment. The massive liquidation by investors’ further worsened the situation which caused the Stock markets to go into a tailspin.  From this point going forth, the European economy sank deeper into financial distress ever recorded since 1930. Due to the adoption of single trading currency in EU, the effect was transmitted from one nation to the next on the trading block. Through adoption of monetary and cash management policies e.g. reduction of interest rate for the main refinancing activities by 325 basis points (European Central Bank, 2009), EU has recovered though sluggishly. To avoid a recurrence of 2008, EU has adopted broad policy changes to control and mitigate systematic damage and risk. EU is still recovering from the post-great economic recession period of 2008 and is expected to take some more years to fix (UCLA, 2017).

The Brexit has been termed as a revolt against globalization. Following a successful referendum in June 2016, Britain will cease to be a member of European Union on the grounds of; reducing the impact on trade and economy, preserving the public travel area, defending the Northern Ireland concord process, and influencing the future of EU (DPER, 2017). The desire of Britain to protect its resources from other countries and instead to redistribute in the domestic economy has been termed fascist. Research by the Bank of England has predicted by the year 2019, the level of investment in Britain will have declined by 25 percent. Brexit is anticipated to negatively impact the Country's Auto industry which hit a 17-year high in 2016. The failure to lay down a good strategy following Brexit could damage the vital industry to the extent of being irreparable and further expose it to the 10% tariff on finished cars and a tariff of 4.5 on spare parts. Following successful referendum, the sterling pound suffered the largest single-day drop against the dollar and indication that Brexit will have dire short-term and long-term economic consequences on the economy of Britain. Key investment institutions have suffered given the high level of uncertainty of Britain about the rest of other European Union nations regarding trade tariffs and customs hurdles that will be imposed. In the last quarter of 2016, the investment fell by 0.9% contributing to the decline of first calendar year while the country has not fully recovered from the 2008 economic recession impact (New York Times, 2017).

Brexit

In the recent past, major security crisis has confronted EU. The refugee’s problem has been coupled with terrorist attacks as the giving of asylum to Syrian and other Muslim- majority nations have opened its borders to terrorists. The entry of terrorist in European countries have been attributed to the loose screening of refugees, laxity in enforcing counter-terrorist policies, and the going easy on people believed to have links with known terrorist groups. The series of attacks in France, Germany suicide bombing, United Kingdom has put the safety of these countries in jeopardy. European is currently being faced by a highly troubled and unstable neighbourhood.  The war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria has caused a major humanitarian catastrophe in the region, and the consequent dwindling of the government structures have resulted into the infiltration of extremists disguised as asylum seekers in the region. The fear of radicalization and suicide bombers further comprises the security of European Union calling for quick policy enactment to share intelligence and counter extremism to guard against the menace of terrorism.

Additionally, European Union is being challenged by anti- European Union parties for the last couple of years. The political parties concerns are that the EU nation has relinquished their sovereignty to Brussels (Business Insider, 2016). The parties started mushrooming following the period when the European economy growth had stagnated, and the handling Eurozone crisis left the question of the voters on the ability of EU to uphold democracy given the citizens of the member countries were not taking part in active decision making and the high voters’ number from refugees. Anti-EU parties threaten the pro-European political parties. If the Anti-EU parties gain popularity, it is feared they will stop or reverse major European integration agendas 

In conclusion, this essay seeks to analyse the challenges that the European Union is currently facing. The Union’s goal is promoting harmony among the 28 member nation through the creation of a single market, facilitating free movement of people, goods and (or) services and upholding human rights and equality, EU addressing several challenges. The challenges include global refugee crisis, the aftermath of 2008 economic recession, and increased insecurity threat from terrorism. Moreover, the impact of Brexit and rise of Eurosceptic political parties has unleashed immediate impact on the EU financial markets and further threatened to cause the devastating slump in the global economic progress by unsettling markets. Further, Brexit challenges the future of EU given that the UK is one of the wealthy and prominent members, what would hinder the influence of Brexit and protect the rest from following in the footsteps of Britain? The above challenges put the survival of European Union begging the question how well can EU handled the immediate problems as Union’s future might depend on it. 

References

Amnesty International, 2016. Amnesty International. [Online]
Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2016/10/tackling-the-global-refugee-crisis-sharing-responsibility/
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

BBC, 2016. BBC News. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34131911
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

Business Insider, 2016. Insider politics-Politics. [Online]
Available at: https://www.businessinsider.com/rise-of-eurosceptic-political-parties-chart-2016-6?IR=T
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

DPER, 2017. PER.GOV.IE. [Online]
Available at: https://www.per.gov.ie/en/brexit-and-the-challenges-facing-the-european-union/
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

European Central Bank, 2009. European Central Bank, Eurosystem- The economic crisis and the response of fiscal and monetary policy. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/key/date/2009/html/sp090608.en.html

European Commision, 2009. European Commision. [Online]
Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/pages/publication15887_en.pdf
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

European Commision, 2016. European Commision- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations. [Online]
Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/echo/refugee-crisis_en
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

European Parliament, 2017. European Parliament- At your sevice. [Online]
Available at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/en/displayFtu.html?ftuId=FTU_4.1.1.html
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

European Union , 2017. European Union. [Online]
Available at: https://europa.eu/european-union/about-eu/eu-in-brief_en
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

New York Times, 2017. The New York Times. [Online]
Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/business/brexit-britain-eu-economy-banks.html?_r=0
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

UCLA, 2017. UCLA - Centre for European and Russian Studies. [Online]
Available at: https://www.international.ucla.edu/euro/article/164869
[Accessed 17 May 2017].

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