After Paris, Europe should avoid border policy extremes

Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology at Cornell University, is an expert on France and European politics and author of “Illiberal Politics in Neoliberal Times: Cultures, Security, and Populism in a New Europe” and “Europe Without Borders.” She says that although many of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks were born and raised in Europe, Friday’s tragedy has nonetheless placed EU immigration and refugee policies under the microscope.


Berezin says:

“The weekend’s tragic events in Paris point to a political fact: Europe has never developed a viable way to think, talk or act regarding immigration and asylum issues. Political discourse around this topic mostly shifts between two unhelpful polarities.

“On the one side, politicians who criticize open borders are labeled xenophobic nationalists – nostalgic of Nazi-style ‘fortress Europe.’ On the other, post-national idealists and some policy makers hold on to the promise of a borderless European Union.

“In the face of the horrific murders in Paris and the humanitarian crisis that the refugees represent, it would be wise for the EU and its member states to come up with middle-road solutions on immigration that citizens of member states will accept.

“Pontificating about quickly fading collective ideals of imagined European unity will not serve the refugees. Nor do these ideals accord with realities on the ground. Re-thinking borders and the ideals of collective security and humane compassion are not mutually exclusive.

“European citizens deserve the expectation of security; those who seek refuge in Europe deserve the hope of security. If it means re-thinking borders and all that they imply – so be it – otherwise much worse is on the horizon.”

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