Recently, our program was invited to travel to the Château De Portals Strasbourg in France and attend the Castle Talk Symposium on The Conflict and Cooperation at EU Borders: Open or Closed Borders.
Our program had the opportunity to not only attend but also present our ideas on migration and/or repatriation to discuss what options the European Union currently has as well as participate on the discussion board at the conclusion of each presentation.
Over the course of the 2-day symposium, we had the exposure to network with European Union representatives as well as master students and professionals currently conducting in-depth research on this topic.
My presentation focused on what Germany, as a member of the European Union, could do to properly address this crisis.
Germany is the most applied to country for refugees coming into Europe. These refugees are skilled, talented, and educated yet simply left immobile in underserviced refugee camps. The negative dialogue coming from the citizens of Germany is that these refugees are an immediate burden to their environment socially, politically, and even more so economically. What needs to be clarified is whether this dialogue is rhetoric or if the citizen’s concerns are supported by hard evidence from reputable sources. Perhaps, instead of seeing these refugees as a burden, we need to see this massive increase of people as an opportunity.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) performed a study showing very little increase in the German GDP and stressed the importance of refugees having the ability to get to work as soon as they arrive and are granted asylum in the country. By offering low-level jobs to these refugees, the Oxford University Study then saw low-level native workers being forced into higher paying jobs, raising the annual labor output and actually improving the economy. That being said, for this to continue, the German government will need to be willing to assist these refugees in their asylum-seeking process and make changes to policies to offer them greater opportunities for sustainability in the working environment.
In addition to changing the dialogue and offering these migrants employment opportunities, it is important to reach the worried citizens on a local level. The Camp Poxdorf Case Study proves that community involvement only created a more positive environment and encouraged refugee integration into the local communities. Thus, the camp stressed the importance of hosting community engaging cultural and holiday events. Through these gatherings, the community was able to connect with these refugees on a personal level and, in turn, changed the way their community accepted and integrated refugees into their society.
It is quite simple to understand the main ideas that need to be stressed during this refugee crisis. From an optimistic standpoint, it is important to change the dialogue that the media uses to portray these displaced people, create opportunities and give them hope for the future, and finally find ways to support their integration into the new and foreign community and lifestyle in Germany.
Through our presentation and discussions, we received feedback on our style, content, and even answered follow-up questions from members of the European Parliament, professors from around the globe, and master students studying in France.
This symposium was a very rewarding experience that encouraged us, as students, to research and present our synopsis and suggestions of the recent refugee crisis facing the European Union borders.