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The Rise of The Far Right and European Union

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My main concern is not the right wing parties themselves, but how they’ve become a cause for the increase of these political parties throughout Europe, and how the European Union has aided this rise. The causes may be determined in terms of economic stability as well as security for the population and for the State borders. The rise of the far right remains important nowadays because of the lack of total resolution, or in any case, the lack of positive results from these resolutions. In this essay, a brief history of the far right will be explained to understand better the reasons behind the ideology of these far right parties, as well as the economic and security aspects, two of the main arguments for these parties will be discussed as well. Then I will analyze some resolutions of the EU and the rise of the far right in some EU member states. Finally, the essay will end on whether the actions taken by the European Union have helped the rise of the far right or not, and how it has happened.

From World War II to the 1980´s, the far right was basically irrelevant for the political field in Europe. It was mostly related to fascist ideology, known for its use of violence and inclination towards pre-war ideologies, in such a way heavily criticized. But after the 80´s the far right seemed to rise again and gain popularity. It is important to mention, that this far right has nothing to do with the fascist ideology of the past and tries to bring something new and different to the table. This “new” right wing focuses mainly in business and the capitalistic economy. In its characteristics we can find a conservative thought that leans towards keeping the established social order, and supports tradition, authority but beyond anything else, nationalism. It is important to mention that with this line of thought, it may be understood the reason far right parties are opposed to supranational institutions such as the European Union; “these forces have too much control over the national governments”. The European Union was created to keep a strong union between its members, in order to prevent another global tragedy like the Second World War, and to make a strong leading economic block. To do so, it is quite clear the need of each EU member to abdicate to certain national decisions, by agreeing to the rules established by the EU in order to create an all as one body. But at the same time, the nationalism in each country has pushed societies against not only migrants but the EU as an institution as well.

Taking into consideration what was previously mentioned, we can link together the immigration crisis that started back in 2015 with the rise of far right political parties. Right Wing populist have risen as a result of many different factors such as immigration, the Euro-crisis and terror attacks in countries such as France and Brussels, but, I can argue that the migrant crisis is the origin of all the before mention. This can be sustained because of all the implications the migrant crisis has with each State, and how some of the EU policies have been altered in a way that puts some States in very difficult positions. This will be carefully explained further on in the essay.

Now I will focus on the economic sector changes as a result of the immigrant crisis. The migrant crisis in Europe has had a huge impact in the economies of the EU members. According to Rakesh Sharma a journalist of high recognition, there are three main impacts. First, the increase in the social sector spending rises as a result of migrants coming to the countries, because the host countries often need to spend their countries money into helping migrants and providing housing and education to them, until the refugees becomes an active contributor of the local economy, by working. As a result of this, nations have this extra spending “social-destined” money, instead of assigning it to their citizens. Second, refugees tend to alter the local labor market. This can increase the unemployment rate for the displacement of local workers. The competitiveness to undertake a job is now not only between the local citizens but also against skilled labor from other countries. And last but not least, the increase of aggregate demand. Sharma establishes that “new migrants represent potential markets for new services” (2015), which is a positive thing.

With this in mind, we might question ourselves, why these impacts help brew the sentiment of xenophobia? It is possible to say that the poorest populations of Europe soon enough felt that the increased of budget expenditure on social benefits were mainly for the refugees and only them. “They were enjoying privileged access to benefits and financial support, while they (local citizens) themselves were losing it”. The EU’s Action Plan on the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (2016) established that all members of the EU most collaborate in the integration, as well as providing the services needed to do so. But taking this into consideration, the 2008 global economic crisis that the EU struggled to manage, they found themselves taking high-risk actions to try to prevent another one. The economic instability throughout the continent forced the EU to “cut expenses in almost all sectors of daily lives of people”; it was the go-to decision. But we can see it conflicting with the newer decisions to provide for the asylum seekers. By newer decisions we refer to the incentive to EU members to destine their efforts and resources to aid refugees. These “responsibilities” include education, paperwork for asylum, housing, medical assistance, fingertip process and more. To see two totally different reactions to two different problems that affect society has helped reinforce the far right stance. “This is seen as problem/fundament by these far right parties because in that case the focus of the European Union would be on the welfare of the European Union over the welfare of individual states”.

On the other hand, we can see the urgent problematic of security in Europe. Lehne, a well versed scholar in the relationship between the EU with its members, stated that the public concern regarding the refugees, deepened when Islamic terrorism and the continuously-growing criminality rate began to rise in their countries and created an associated link with the mass inflows of migrants. It is of great importance, as he mentions, to keep in mind that these acts of terrorism were perpetrated by Europeans, not refugees. Yet, the media has not being a positive contributor in any way to this situations because they are mainly focusing on incidents related to asylum seekers, making society relate both as one. We can understand here, why the sense of insecurity has increased throughout Europe.

Also, the EU has reinforced the Dublin Regulation to all its members. It establishes that the country of entrance (for the refugees) must be responsible for dealing with the asylum claim. We can see that due to geographic location some countries are put with a burden beyond measure, for example Italy and Greece. However, it has happened that these countries “neglected” their responsibilities and allowed refugees to move deeper to the continent to seek asylum. The European Commission aware of the issue, decided to modify the Dublin Regulations. Even though they kept the original carriage of responsibility given to the country of first entrance, if that state received a considerable amount of refugees, a “corrective allocation mechanism” would trigger the transfer of migrants to a less burdened state”. We can now see how the refugee crisis has put a lot of pressure on the national border for some countries in the EU. Many EU members feel that the European Union might need to focus towards a more intense plan of action for the entry of refugees into the EU. Some others decided that the EU should “not take in any refugees since it only causes problems and undermine the security of the European Union”. Although they are mainly concern towards “prioritizing humanitarian concerns and allowing hundreds of thousands of refugees to cross their borders” others don’t feel “particularly enthusiastic about taking in the refugees fleeing war and poverty in Syria”. By this point, a strong wave of both islamophobia and xenophobia has spread across countries of Central Europe.

To fully understand how these economic and security factors affects the European Union, the European Union policies have really strengthen the presence of far right parties in the political matters of concern in Europe. For example Hungary. Back in 2015, Hungary was in the planning of a four meter-high wall to protect its borders. The wall was going to be built with Serbia in an effort to keep refugees from crossing. Viktor Orbán, prime minister, openly accuse the EU plan, previously mentioned, to resettle asylum seekers and refugees across member states, as “mad”. From that point onward he made his administration and further campaigns more and more open with its nationalistic ideals. Just this April he secured his third term in office. His main discourse topic: immigration. Just after his victory he declared he gave fellow Hungarians “the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary”. Not only has he been called racist but is also considered as the representative of the Visegrad group to “oppose EU plans to compel countries to accept migrants under a quota system”. Hungary has a history of slow-growing far right ideology over the years, primarily since the fall of the Soviet Union. The spread of the idea of immigrants stealing jobs and putting at risk the security of citizens, as well as the growing disagreement with the EU policies have helped the rapid popularity of Orbán´s administration. It came to the point where Hungary triggered a referendum against the relocation resolution.

Similar is the case with the rest of the Visegrad group political systems. Former Prime Minister Janez Jansa (de donde) declared in some occasions that he wants Slovenia to “become a country that will put the wellbeing and security of Slovenians first”. It came to the point that during his campaign, he formed a tactical alliance with Viktor Orbán against migrants, “borrowing his tactic of stirring fears about migrants”. The xenophobic sentiment only continues to grow as a result of the political campaigns and propaganda of these far right parties across Europe, but the reality is that the EU resolutions, somehow, pushed them into this. Same with Slovakia and Czech Republic. The European Commission is pushing the Czech Republic to take certain amount of refugees as part of the resettlement, but it was denied. Both in Slovakia and Czech Republic the media has played a huge role by making propaganda of their negative perspective towards the migrant crisis. Anti-immigrant groups have attracted thousands of supporters on social networks, manifesting their unsympathy towards the crisis. Those who publicly support asylum seekers entering their countries often find themselves being targets of hatred from the viewers. Former Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, fomented the xenophobia wave warning that “immigrants may bring about the collapse of the EU”. Though the former quote may be a little contradictory, we can see the inclination towards villainizing migrants.

We can see these tendencies waves not only in the Visegrad group or the coast countries, but also throughout Europe. Denmark has one of the toughest immigration rules, which reflects the power of the second largest party in parliament, the Danish People’s Party (Right wing). It even comes to guarantee to “boost contraception aid to developing countries to limit the migration process”. In the Netherlands the Anti-immigration Freedom Party increased its number of seats and came in second in last year´s election.

The European Union´s main priority is to bring its humanitarian identity towards the issue. The European Commission´s seven proposal for a new legislation and renovations (2016) can hardly be called revolutionary or close-to, and do not challenge the primacy of national decision-making in any way. “But they do strive for a degree of harmonization–both on the substantive rules for asylum decisions and on the procedures and conditions for reception”. Although, with all the evidence previously mentioned, the interrelationship between the policies, which makes the member states to be active in the migrant issue, and the far-right parties’ rise is unstoppable. We can argue this mainly because of the bad coverage and distortion of the policies towards spreading xenophobic sentiment throughout Europe, and the anti-empathy against them. As the Europeans continue to struggle with these factors the right-wing parties continues to grow and gain popularity by sustaining their “all white” and “Christians only” propaganda. As shown, the EU plans of actions are only used against them to gain seats in parliament and help their parties grow locally.

To conclude this essay, we can only say that yes, the EU policies have helped the rise of far-right wing parties. But, it is important to mention this was only possible because of the usage and interpretations of the purpose of these policies. Politicians and anti-immigrants supporters have taken advantage of the negative effects of opening their borders and using their economic resources as support for them. Aiding refugees have both positive and negative effects, there is no denying. But the decision to whether see it as a white, black, or grey area, has a huge impact on how to see asylum seekers. And the only one to be held responsible, for some, may be the EU and their policies. But only because they interpret their actions in a negative way. And this negativity is used to gain supporters and strengthen the far right.

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