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Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

The European Union is a well-structured international organization comprised of 28

member states that work with one another on a wide range of domains. This IGO has been a

huge example of collective teamwork to facilitate cooperation, characterizing it as one of the

best political successes in recent history. However, one major issue has started to erode the

European way of life and has pitted member states against one another. The Refugee Crisis and

the large mass of migrants entering the European Union from 2011 to present day has stressed

the security apparatus of the EU. The recent terrorist attacks in Belgium and France have added

more pressure for security institutions to get involved and adapt to this new style of terror that

has not been seen in recent times on European soil. Not all migrants are terrorists, most are

genuine immigrants wanting to have a better life. However, European security institutions must

make appropriate changes to catch potential terrorists before they conduct attacks on the local

population. What are pragmatic solutions that European security institutions can take to

reduce potential threats of domestic and foreign terrorism without violating their humanitarian

obligations?” will address the current risks the EU must address and what are the ways it can

utilize its resources to make its institutions better suited to handling the different threats that

Europe faces. “This refugee crisis in the neighborhood of the European Union put EU policies

and institutions dealing with refugees and asylum seekers under heavy pressure to reform”

(Moraga, 2, 2015).


The methods utilized in this research paper are based off two different categories. The

first is the use of research papers and analysis on the current refugee crisis and immigration

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

overall in the EU and its impacts on the security of the member states. The second category is

the use of quantitative data or empirical data which help to provide statistics, to provide figures

of how immigration is shaping EU security institutions, and the behavioral attitudes of the

states. This data is provided by IGOs and NGOs. Most notably Europol, and Eurostat are

presented as the main sources of the statistics while secondary figures are provided by UNHCR.

Based on these types of information an assessment can be made to determine what the issues

are and how to find the best likely and practical solutions to the influx of immigrants into the


Literature Review

The literature used within the research paper are broken down into three different

areas. The first is involved in understanding the EU states’ current security policies and entire

EU security system. This is presented in the cases of the larger members, the EU border-states,

and the security institutions. The second area of literature determines what real and serious

problems the EU will face with the current policies that are implemented in the EU. The

literature will help to explain why the EU security will suffer due to immigration and most

importantly, why now. The final area of literature will help to present real approaches to

determining the best opportunities to fix the current system without violating any piece of the

EU model. It will also help to present sustainable short and long term solutions.

Prevailing Issues

The Syrian civil war and the fall of Gadhafi’s Libya have seen a spike of migrants wanting

to enter the EU. In the first year only a small amount of migrants entered into the EU; within

the next 2 years the numbers tripled, ultimately flooding EU’s Border States into a situation in

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

which security institutions could not maintain control of. This has led to concerns of possible

terrorists entering the EU unchecked and potentially inflicting harm. “The flow of people from

crisis-torn countries is increasingly seen as a new and tragic consequence of the inability to

consolidate security after interventions” (Lesser, 2, 2015). These terrorists are suspected of

disguising themselves as migrants and using other means to reach European soil. Originally

migrants used proper channels and travel routes to reach EU member states. This made the

migration system easier to maintain. However, with the refugee and migrants’ influx the

situation deteriorated. Migrants were travelling through the member states without being

registered and were using unofficial transport routes. “56 percent of French people interviewed

believed that terrorists may be among the thousands of refugees heading into Europe” (Lesser,

3, 2015). This has led to an increase in the possibility of human smuggling of possible radical

persons and terrorists into European states. It is very apparent that human traffickers are using

the situation as a way to make a lot of money and do not care who they send over. As a result

for organizations such as ISIS, the opportunity to strike at European cities is very appealing.

“The collapse of regimes and the spread of chaotic conditions that have encouraged the rise of

the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS) have also created a vast human security crisis”

(Lesser, 3, 2015). Secondly, home grown terrorism by migrants is also an issue. Migrants who

enter areas that are ‘enclaves’ may be encouraged by that states’ ethnic population to instigate

attacks. It also means that people who are smuggled and turn out to be recruits to terrorist

organizations will have the opportunity to radicalize that country’s population. This can be

detrimental in radicalizing not just the individual but the entire community. As a result the

security institutions need to maintain and expand upon the four points of the EU counter

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

and European Security: A Complex Relationship Nave Wood Figure 1 Terrorism Arrests terrorism strategy, “The EU’s

Figure 1 Terrorism Arrests

terrorism strategy, “The EU’s counterterrorism strategy is

divided into four principles: prevent radicalisation and

terrorist recruitment, protect citizens and infrastructure from

terrorist action, pursue and investigate terrorist organisations

and individuals, and respond to a terrorist attack minimizing

its harmful consequences” (Sinkkonen, 4, 2013).

Migrants who have lived in European countries for much

of their lives and raised families have had some troubling statistics. In some cases the second or

third generation family member has had misgivings of the country they hold a citizenship in.

This is a huge issue considering that they are citizens and should be a part of that member

states’ civil society. Britain, France, and Sweden, and Germany are among some of that

member states that have had a large number of religious Muslims that have gone to fight for

ISIS. “Pressure on the latter has been particularly pertinent to the individuals of Muslim family

background which has held back the integration of the Muslim ethnic minority communities

into German society” (Myunghee, 5, 2010). This raises the question for security institutions as

to why they are willing to fight when the governments provided them with many benefits of a

modern society and infrastructure. The situation is further compounded by the fact that

security institutions have done a poor job at monitoring who went to fight for extremist groups

in Syria and who came back to their home countries. Having a citizen that executed people in a

war zone is someone who shouldn’t be able to walk around free in the EU. Security institutions

have had a large lack of pressing cases on these people who have returned from Syria and more

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

problematic treating them as solely brainwashed by radical organizations and hope to

‘reintegrate them’. This hope is counterproductive.

A third main issue is radicalization of migrants in public centers. In the context of the

recent terrorist attacks this problem will be addressed about radicalization in Mosques in

European cities. Imams play a prominent role in the Islamic faith and as such, have a large

follower base. There are many documented cases of Imams who have preached radicalized

agendas to either injure or threaten the societies they reside in. Security institutions have not

penetrated into this centralized culture until recently. Most of the people who leave to fight in

Syria did so because they were in contact of a religious figure who used his or her position to

persuade and radicalize the individual. Therefore, there is a general consensus among states

that there must be ways in which certain figures can be monitored and what ways. In some

cases the state decided to take some controversial actions. Morocco closed 88 Mosques that it

considered radicalized. Austria decided to stop foreign entities from funding its Mosques and

France has been deciding on whether or not to issue licenses to Imams in order to be

considered valid religious figures. These options are being hotly deliberated among politicians

and security experts. Imams have also played a role in facilitating more social unrest with newly

arrived immigrants from Middle East and North African states. This has resulted in more

tension at the border and within the European states.

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

A fourth major issue is two current policies, the Schengen policy and the Dublin

Protocol. This law between the EU member states has facilitated more security risks to the

states’ sovereignty. The Dublin Protocol outlines how refugees are divided between countries

proportionately. In doing so, this forces states to take up refugees without knowing their

backgrounds and whom may not be able to support accommodation. “With Germany expecting

to take up between 800,000 and 1 million people,

it is one of the main countries to push for a quota

system among EU member states that would

relocate and redistribute 160,000 people

currently in Italy, Greece, and Hungary” (Lesser,

2, 2015). Ultimately, this can facilitate easier

(Lesser, 2, 2015). Ultimately, this can facilitate easier Figure 2 EU Asylum Applications by State movement

Figure 2 EU Asylum Applications by State

movement of hostile groups or individuals into Europe. It also means that in some cases the EU

member state may not have the resources to control these groups of people and this could

potentially pose a problem to their society. The Schengen policy which allowed free entry into

the EU is not a unified policy. Although each country has adopted this, there are many instances

where they each have their own interpretations. “Hungary is an exception to the rule in the

way Europe’s countries are reacting to the inflow of migrants and refugees” (Lesser, 5, 2015) To

effectively combat this issue the EU must revisit the policy and ensure full cohesion on the rules

that it will implement. It will be counterproductive to institute visas between EU states.

The final issue is whether it is important to fix the areas that have seen the largest

exodus of immigrants. The two largest conflict zones are Libya and Syria. Syria is in a full blown

civil war and has seen over 50% of its citizens flee the conflict into the neighboring states,

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

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Turkey and Jordan. Over 6 million have made their way into the EU. “German politicians

warned about a collapse of the system and asked for breathing space; the number of people

entering Germany had increased too quickly” (Lesser, 3, 2015). This has posed a serious issue

and strain on the EU system. More so,

Libya which has been ‘liberated’ from

Gadhafi is in a quasi-civil war. Essentially

the state is split along faction lines and

the intern government has no control

over the entire territory. Therefore,

has no control over the entire territory. Therefore, Figure 3 Refugee Figures by State Syrians and

Figure 3 Refugee Figures by State

Syrians and other immigrants have been able to cross the Mediterranean instead of through

Turkey to get to Italy. “European policies have also failed to produce stability on Europe’s

southern periphery, and in the case of Libya, where the collapse of sovereignty has facilitated

the trafficking in refugees and economic migrants” (Lesser, 2, 2015). This only has allowed the

opening up of many more paths to enter the EU. The EU cannot keep accepting people, that

way of thought is unsustainable. Especially if they use unofficial migration routes the chances

are higher for people that have not been processed and can lead to potentially more attacks

against Europeans. A frozen conflict in Syria and Libya can be disastrous in the long term for the

EU. A conflict that is not resolved will be exploited by immigrants who can try to benefit off the

system. Unfortunately this issue is further compounded by the lack of involvement to solve the

crisis. Throwing money and resources annually at incoming immigrants is not an effective

lasting solution.

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Deal or No Deal: Which Solutions Can Work?

Nave Wood

There are multiple ideas that the EU has debated on to facilitate either helping or

limiting how migrants are accepted into the EU and by what means of travel in order to get

them where they need to be which are based on two overarching principles, “The EU needs to

figure out two systems: one that allows for coordinated emergency responses reacting to a

refugee crisis in times of Foreign and Security Policy Program Policy Brief 9 conflict, war, or

natural disaster, and one that proactively manages mixed migration flows instead of a reactive

system ruled by ad-hocism handicapped by a lack of political will. “Lesser, 8-9, 2015). The first

solution is the implementation of an agreement between the EU and Turkey, which was

recently signed, in order to close off the Greek migration routes. Turkey would halt immigrants

who were using this route to get into the EU for certain 6 billion in funds to keep them located

in refugee and immigration centers. This agreement has so far held although Turkey is

threatening to end it if the EU does not grant visa free travel to its citizens. Visa free Turkish

citizens could possibly be as dangerous as an immigrant as Turkey is a very dynamic state and

currently is led by religious ideology with a more authoritarian government. EU member states

will need to be very careful if they consider granting Turkey visa free status. The second

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concept the EU has provided is allowing immigrants to use state transportation for free. As an

example, Hungary, Austria, and Germany have allowed immigrants to travel by train instead of

having immigrants go by foot on train tracks. “This entails agreeing on how and where to best

manage the screening process” (Lesser, 9, 2015). This ensures the safety of everybody who is

involved. Signs have also been placed explaining which paths migrants should take that are

‘official’ and in which the state can better facilitate the incoming people. A third solution is to

facilitate the incoming people. A third solution is to Figure 4 Migration Routes increase interceptions of

Figure 4 Migration Routes

increase interceptions of immigrants

going by boat to the EU. Italy has been

doing this but do not have enough

funding to intercept all seaborne traffic.

Greece is also struggling to keep up.

“First, Europe needs to agree on quotas

for relocating people with a substantiated

need for protection who are currently in

Italy and Greece” (Lesser, 8, 2015). More

emphasis to help with border patrols

would greatly reduce immigrant pressures on the EU system. Another policy that is being

considered and should be implemented is NATO and specifically EU member states destroying

vessels which immigrants might take to make their way to Italy. This would discourage any

further ideas to try and navigate to Europe. The obvious risk is the chances of collateral damage

and getting approval from Libya to conduct those type of missions.

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

The cases of migrants who have settled in European countries and have had second and

third generation children represent the same amount of danger of being prone to radicalization

by terrorists. The attacks in Brussels and Paris were perpetrated by citizens of those states. This

leads to a disturbing trend of domestic terrorism that is rising due to lack inclusiveness of these

communities. The attackers came from areas that were ‘Muslim’ enclaves. These communities

do not interact with the rest of society, often times, creating a parallel one. For security

institutions they must find ways in which they can stop potential attacks and catch individuals

who are deemed a potential threat to society. This can be conducted by two ways. The first is

the easiest and that is to increase security institutions’ presence in these areas. More police,

government authority, and leadership can deter potential attackers. “Driven by the

pressure of attacks, member states have agreed on a comprehensive strategy to

prevent radicalization and recruitment into terrorism, but simultaneously the strategy traces

the limits of EU authority in member states” (Bossong, 1, 2016). Within the European criminal

code, tap warrants can be issued with enough proper evidence and should be utilized more.

The biggest change should be shared information between EU security institutions to provide

information on individuals who can be considered threats to the EU as a whole. “This includes

strengthening police and judicial systems” (Sinkkonen, 5, 2015). Information of nationals is not

put into a data base collectively. This makes counter terrorism operations increasingly difficult.

After the Paris attacks, Belgium and France struggled to find the appropriate means to provide

effective communication about the attack, identities of the individuals, and any other sort of

priority information. As a result, the Brussels attacks were from the same group of people, led

by the same mastermind. If a well-integrated security institution had been established

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

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beforehand the attacks could have been prevented. “This has been partly the consequence of

authority struggles around the limited EU legal competences when it comes to police

cooperation under the Treaties” (Bigo, Carrera, Guild, Guittet, Jeandesboz, Valsamis, Mitsilegas,

Ragazzi, Scherrer, 11, 2015). Lastly, The EU security institutions should have kept track of

anyone who decided to go to hotspot countries and who are currently fighting for extremist

organizations. Thousands of European citizens have made their way to fight in Syria and Libya

only to return. This has caused some serious concern whether or not they have any intentions

of harming society. It also means should security institutions act and arrest them for fighting

with an extremist entity.

The cause of Morocco closing 88 mosques due to extremist ideology being propagated

throughout its communities is foreshadowing to the European system. Security institutions

have made zero interest in ensuring that this behavior is made unlikely in the European

context. Based on the amount of radicalized individuals going to fight in hotspots there has

been more data that has shown certain mosques do cater to the an extremist idea. Therefore,

security institutions should seek out a system that establishes whether or not a

preacher/cleric/imam has broken rules of the state. If ample evidence is provided, and that the

mosques has contributed to radicalization should be closed down. In recent events, France has

closed down several mosques due to security concerns. The second main objective all EU states

should decide on is foreign sponsorship of mosques and imams. Saudi Arabia and Turkey have

had past incidences of foreign sponsorship of terrorist organizations. Rebel factions that are

currently fighting in Syria are sponsored by the two. The Austrian model closed foreign funding

of mosques by other state entities. Austria’s foreign minister has rejected criticism of the

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country’s new law on Islam aimed at cutting off foreign influence and funding, arguing that the

legislation should become a model for the rest of Europe” (Borger, 1, 2015).Turkey therefore,

did not have the option to contribute to the system, rather the Austrian (Muslim) communities

were the ones that will provide for the maintenance of the mosques. All EU member states

taking this state would effectively limit and reduce the chances of another states funding of

mosques to radicalize the community. It would allow for cooperation between the community

and the state fostering a relationship rather and the community not willing to cooperate with

the European government. Lastly, and most controversial, is for the state to license out

whether an individual has the right to preach at a religious institutions. “France’s leading

Muslim body on Tuesday called for religious leaders to fight back against radical teachings by

requiring imams to obtain a permit to preach” (Howell, 1, 2015). Although, the primary focus is

imams the ruling would target all religions. The state would ensure that the religious figures

passed a state certified test or program to be considered legal to preach. This has meet with

both positive and negative views in France. Some argue it violates some French principles while

others have stated that it should be put forth. What this does mean that radicalized individuals

would not be present in the religious institutions and would add more security to the

community. They would instead be outcasts and would be seen unofficial and be treated as not

educated in the workings of the religion. Security institutions would greatly benefit with this

law because that is a very large portion of individuals that are harder to target and would not

be willing to fight in a certain hotspots.

The Schengen policy and Dublin Protocol are two current laws that the European Union

follows. However, based on the current track record they have not been very well implemented

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by the member states. Therefore these possible solutions should be able to strengthen EU

security as a whole rather than a state to state basis. First, the Schengen policy should be

relooked at. The EU needs to have free visa travel, anything else would not be acceptable. The

signatories of the Schengen Agreement, which created a borderless area across much of

Europe, can certainly reinstate national borders in exceptional circumstances” (Balfour, 1, 2015)

is counterproductive. However, a new Schengen policy must be signed by all member states in

which the laws are not open up to interpretations. Currently the policy is treated as a national

to national basis and is looked at many different ways. A more unified approach to the rules of

movement for immigration and travel is needed. “Another relevant protection method is

related to migration flows and passenger name records (PNR)” (Sinkkonen, 6, 2016) and that

would require collaboration between member states, which would share information about

immigrants. That would enable states to utilize their resources and understand the rules

effectively. Secondly, EU member states on the border of the EU must receive more funds to

tackle immigrants who are trying to make it to the EU. The Schengen policy does not mention

funding to deter or to help immigrants traveling to the EU. An organization called Frontex is the

one that should be utilized. However, until recent migration swells during the Refugee Crisis the

EU Parliament has acted by tripled their funding Following the deaths of over 1,000 people in a

single week in April 2015, the EU tripled the budget of Frontex” (HRW 3, 2015). If this security

institution had the appropriate backing by the EU then the vast amount of immigrants that

entered the EU between 2011 and present day would have been dramatically less. More

support for security institutions on border security is the first line of defense against potential

extremist individuals willing to harm EU citizens. Without these institutions the chances of

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Nave Wood

future attacks are more likely. Finally, the Dublin Protocols have not helped to alleviate security

the Dublin Protocols have not helped to alleviate security Figure 5 Migration by Sea concerns between

Figure 5 Migration by Sea

concerns between member states. If the open

door policy had not been implemented the Dublin

policy could have worked, “She [Merkel] could

have tried to set up border controls as quickly as

possible at that point, and yes, this may have kept

law and order and a broken Dublin system in

place” (Lesser, 3, 2015). It is also unfair for border-states to house and pay out to the people

who register in their state, which is a rule under the Protocol. Italy and Greece are the two

most heavily hit. Their current economic outcasts are also very grim, Italy is barely handling on

and Greece is bankrupt. Forcing these two states to take on the burden of immigration without

any significant financial assistance has been an abysmal decision by the EU as a whole. These

states cannot properly vet refugees and immigrants coming in nor can they maintain their

presence. More funding must go to these two states to handle the waves of immigrants who

are entering the EU. Secondly the Dublin Protocol should either be amended to these changes

or be scrapped. The system has proven to be ineffective. Immigrants do not stay in the country

that they first arrived to, rather they have traveled to the states with the best social welfare

programs. This has caused immigrants who have not been registered to cross continental

Europe without any legal paperwork or identity. This has made tracking, and ensuring that

everyone is accounted for very hard. A new protocol must come out to replace the Dublin one

that would hinder continued access by immigrants into other EU countries without official

representation and if the rules are not followed should be sent back to their country of origin if

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Nave Wood

they are not from a hotspot. Refugees, a different case, would be fast tracked over normal

migrants. Finally, forcing refugee and immigration quotas on member states and having them

accept those people is an unacceptable practice. Germany and Sweden were the two biggest

refugee and migrant recipients in the EU. Other states were took in some or were entirely

unwilling to accept any immigrants. One of the main pressures was the security concerns. It

also meant overcrowding of facilities that would house these people. Many towns in Germany

became overfilled and no more accommodation was available. The redistribution objectives did

not go well. Many EU states have been reluctant to take in the refugees and migrants. Nor

could their institutions be able to effectively manage the transition, which would take five to

ten years. It would be better to allow those countries not willing to take in refugees or

immigrants to have that option and countries who are willing can take in as many as they want.

“The system would have two key elements: the market for refugee-admission quotas, and the

matching mechanism. In the market, countries would trade quotas previously assigned

according to an allocation key like the one proposed in the European Agenda on Migration

(European Commission, 2015). This would make sure that countries more willing to host

refugees would welcome more of them and be compensated for doing so by countries less

willing to host refugees” (Moraga, 3, 2015).


Immigration, the Refuge Crisis and the Middle East conflicts have become one of the

most prominent and issues to affect the European Union and its member states. All these issues

are dynamic and not a one solution fixes all. Security institutions have not been able to manage

the crisis effectively and have done a poor job of finding practical solutions to the crisis. As a

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Nave Wood

result the EU has been pushed to a breaking point in which European states have put

themselves against each other. Construction of border fences between member states do not

contribute to meaningful changes. Rather adds to future problems. Radicalization and

extremism must be taken on a nontraditional security approach. The extremists are not a

conventional force rather utilize economic, religious, and social issues to gain traction to their

causes. The EU has become interdependent across many different domains but in terms of

security has practically done very little. The aim of this paper was to address the underlying

issues of the EU security institutions and why cooperation has not been very evident through

2011 to present day. The second part was to provide the solutions necessary to create an

environment that facilitated the cooperation of these security institutions from the domestic to

state levels. Without the cooperation and integration the EU will never be able prevent or

mitigate future crisis.

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

Work Cited

Nave Wood

Balfour, R. (2015, September). Europe's Refugee Crisis and the Unravelling of the Union.

Retrieved April 25, 2016, from http://www.gmfus.org/blog/2015/09/16/europe’s-

Bigo, D., Carrera, S., Guild, E., & Guittet, E. (2015, November). The EU and its Counter-Terrorism

Policies after the Paris Attacks. Retrieved April 25, 2016, from

https://www.ceps.eu/system/files/No 84 EU Responses to Paris_0.pdf

Bossong, R. (2014). EU cooperation on terrorism prevention and violent radicalization:

Frustrated ambitions or new forms of EU security governance. Retrieved April 25, 2016,


Borger, Julian (2015, March, 8). Austria defends new law on foreign funding of mosques.

Retrieved April 25, 2016, from

Howell, Kellan (2015, November, 24). French Muslim group calls for imams to obtain ‘license to

preach’. Retrieved April 25, 2016, from

HRW. (2015). Europe's Refugee Crisis: An Agenda for Action. Retrieved April 25, 2016, from

Immigration and European Security: A Complex Relationship

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Lesser, I. (2015, September). The Refugee Crisis: Perspectives from Across Europe and the

Atlantic. Retrieved April 25, 2016, from http://www.gmfus.org/file/6684/download

Moraga, F. H. (2015, October 18). Tradable Refugee-Admission Quotas (TRAQs), the Syrian

Crisis and the New European Agenda on Migration. Retrieved from

Myunghee, K. A. (2010). Foreign Labour Migration and the Economic Crisis in the EU: Ongoing

and Remaining Issues of the Migrant Workforce in Germany. Retrieved April 25, 2016,

Sinkkonen, T. (2013, May). Counterterrorism in External Action: The EU's Toolbox for

Responding to Terrorism Abroad. Retrieved April 25, 2016, from


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Figure 4