On October 31st, Ernesto joined Professor Frank Wendler in a discussion on European policy. The main topics were immigration and asylum policy. First, Professor Wendler gave an introduction about the topics. This was followed by presentations from students on migration and asylum policy and on the role of Turkey in regards to these policies.
Throughout the presentations, Ernesto stepped in to provide constructive input on the ways in which Brussels is dealing with these issues. Ernesto’s unique perspective on the topics as an EU insider allowed for a well-rounded discussion.
Ernesto then explained the difficult position of Turkey in regards to both immigration and the EU. The Turkish government agreed to act as buffer for immigration from Syria in exchange for money but without significant progress on accession to the EU. This has become more problematic as the nation continues to look toward joining the EU, but faces a lot of push back from current member nations.
He also explained some of the reasons behind the opposition of member States from Eastern Europe (in particular Hungary) to the acceptance of the quota of Syrian immigrants allocated by the EU. Here, he echoed concepts he had discussed previously – homogeneity and lack of colonial power in their shared histories means many of these nations have not had as large a history dealing with immigration and border control. Finally, Ernesto discussed the balance between national interest and solidarity that underlies most political decisions in EU policy.
Ernesto enjoyed working with this class, and hopes to see continued discussions around this area. With a recent election results in the U.S., Ernesto expects that all of us will need to understand the rise of populism on an international scale now more than ever.