• Environmental migrants as a concern for the European Union? Not anymore.

    Environmental migrants as a concern for the European Union? Not anymore.

    Posted by Lucia Wirthová on 2024-05-23

With my article titled “Environmentally driven migration in EU discourse: norms, policies, and realities” published by UCL Open: Environment I hope to contribute to the understanding about a disputed phenomenon, i.e. environmental migration, that has been linked to the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation, and which has been said to threaten the EU by influxes of millions of migrants in the comings decades. Namely, I aim to provide an objective analysis that highlights the perception of such a “threat” by the EU, by looking at what has been said and done since these ominous projections appeared. Does the EU see the so-called environmental migrants as a threat I ask? Does it pursue specific actions to counteract the potential repercussions?

In a summary, the answer is that in the beginning when the topic emerged, the EU did perceive the threat slightly; but this has changed. In my results I found a shift in the discourse used by the EU about environmental migration, similar to the one used internationally. Arguably an important factor in this change were developments in methodologies and a more complex understanding of interplaying factors on migratory behaviours along environmental ones. Thus, once the “issue” was no longer as pressing because there was less certainty about the migratory flows, the matter was also discussed less frequently by the EU. Yet, as I highlight in the article, this change of heart questions the normative principles the EU sets for itself and others, namely in caring for human rights and the environment. While the causality between environmental pressures and migration is not as clear as once thought, the impacts are still present, exasperating those who are most vulnerable.

As is known, discourses about migration are highly politicized, environmental migration being no different. It is thus important in my view to share objective analyses and I believe that open science is key in this aim. Consequently, I appreciate the opportunity UCL Open: Environment offers, especially to fellow young academics as myself to share the knowledge we gather among each other, and I am happy to add to this effort.

Environmentally driven migration in EU discourse: norms, policies and realities by Lucia Wirthová (Comenius University, Slovakia) is published in UCL Open: Environment, volume 6.

Mgr. Lucia Wirthová is a PhD candidate in Political science at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations (Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences) at the Comenius University in Bratislava. Her research is focused on environmental topics and international affairs, mainly environmental destruction in armed conflicts.

For further details on the author see: www.linkedin.com/in/lucia-w-7287b71a9

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