The Role of the European Union in the Global Migration Crisis and the Rise of New Nationalism in Hungary

Dr. Paul Williams

In this paper I examine how the European Union and its Member States have responded to the Global Migration Crisis. The influx of migrants into the EU has created a crisis between the EU and its Member States (particularly those making up its external border), which has resulted in a situation reminiscent of the one that Hannah Arendt assessed using the notion of statelessness. The openness characterized by European integration and the counter trends of re-nationalization have placed migrants and refugees at the heart of a politics of migration in Europe. The EU’s relocation plan, which sought to resettle 160,000 migrants (that were being processed in Italy and Greece) across its Member States, was rejected by Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. Led by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the EU was confronted with calls for re-nationalizing border controls and a process of de-Europeanization, which included rebuilding the Hungarian state as an ‘illiberal’ state.
This paper asks the questions: What institutional failures at the European level led to the rise of this new nationalism in Hungary? And, what avenues are available diminish the ongoing conflict between certain EU Member States, led by Orbán, and the EU? There are two aspects to European integration that I will engage with: discrimination and citizenship. Discrimination of minority groups (particularly migrants) has become increasing bound up with European politics, so the solutions require a European dimension. The temporary re-establishment of some internal border controls due to the Migration Crisis and terrorist threats are an important step in limiting or stopping movement for undesired non-nationals, including EU citizens, like the Roma, due to issues of national security. I maintain that EU citizenship presents an opportunity for greater political activity that breaks from the state-centric politics. EU citizenship enshrines certain transnational democratic principles, as well as the right of free movement and non-discrimination. The Migration Crisis questions the stability not only of the EU’s external border, but has also demonstrated that there is a deeper connection between the discrimination of ethno-cultural minorities and the broader structural/institutional problems the EU is facing.