Autor: Darrell Jackson
Category: Reconciliación, Medios y Comunicación, Diáspora
Darrell Jackson is Director of the Nova Research Centre & Lecturer in European Studies at Redcliffe College in Gloucester, England. He is Director of the Lausanne Researchers’ Network and Researcher in European Mission and Evangelism at the Conference of European Churches.
REGIONAL ANALYTICS: AN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Migration rates are slowing but rates of return are not as high as expected
Writing in 2011, it is highly likely that internal migration will continue to experience the slow-down that has been in evidence since early 2008. With the downturn in the construction industry in Western Europe, the demand for labor from Central and Eastern Europe also slows. Fluctuating currency exchange rates, a feature of the current “credit crunch,” have also affected mobility within the European labor market.
Despite the slowdown, we have yet to see the predicted return of internal EU migrants, many of whom have migrated since 2004, to their countries of origin. This has occurred in relatively modest numbers, but many more migrants have remained in the new host country, taking full advantage of employment, welfare, and social networks.
The EU remains committed to managing migration as right-wing influence grows
The European Union’s Reform Treaty (the “Lisbon” Treaty) removed the power of veto that member states have enjoyed over immigration and asylum legislation, and this is likely to enable steps towards a more coherent policy of access to the EU (particularly with regards to asylum applications), irrespective of the first country of entry. The areas of most immediate attention include those of access to the EU labor market, border controls, asylum application, and the granting of refugee status.
The current political turmoil in North Africa has resulted in rising numbers of refugees to Italy, Malta, and France. Italy and France are currently testing the resolve of the EU Commission’s commitment to the free movement of people in the face of threats from these two governments to re-introduce routine border checks, considered illegal by Brussels. Denmark has also been told to relax its own recently re-introduced checks on traffic crossing its borders via the bridge connecting it to Sweden. It seems likely that new center-right and right-wing influences in European governments will use the threat of re-introducing border checks as a populist measure to stir popular support. The EU Commission will continue to oppose such attempts in a robust fashion, typically via legal action. To do otherwise ignores a major principle of the European Union.
Governments fail to recognize religious component of migration
European governments and the institutions of the European Union need assistance in identifying and acknowledging religious identity and practice as a factor in migration.
Whereas citizens of European states have tended to see migrants in primarily national terms, increasingly migrants are taking prior cultural and religious self-understandings into account. It is underlined by the question as to whether, for example, an Armenian migrant sees himself or herself as primarily a religious-cultural Armenian or primarily as a citizen of a country called Armenia. Migrants may see themselves as Nigerian Pentecostals, or Syrian Orthodox, but they may not consider the fact that they are migrant Christians to offer sufficient commonality for meeting together at integrated events such as “migrant festivals.” Such considerations complicate the framing of harmonized integration policies across the EU because countries respond to such issues in ways that reflect the peculiarities of their own historical, cultural, and political development.
This is especially complex for migrants from countries that are Islamic-majority countries. The EU needs help in learning how to distinguish between Kurdish Christians and Sunni Muslims originating from Iraq. Similar questions occur with migrants from Egypt: are they Coptic Christians, religiously observant Muslims, or “secularized Muslims”?
This has a practical application in determining the possibility of whether an asylum applicant who is repatriated is likely to face persecution or hostility. In some countries, the governmental border and immigration agencies have turned to Church-related agencies for expert advice and opinion in such cases. In other European countries the Church’s competency or opinion in such matters is ignored.
Integrationist migration policies will gradually replace multiculturalist migration policies
Integration and social cohesion are likely to drive migration and asylum policy and practice within the Commission and Parliament of the European Union as they address inequality and differentiation for the foreseeable future. The migration agencies of the churches of Europe are likely to frame their own policies and practices in line with their postures vis-à-vis the EU institutions and it would seem that there is sufficient missiological justification for adopting such a strategy. However, this cannot be at the expense of acting in solidarity with asylum seekers and migrants whose basic human rights may from time to time be denied by one or another member state of the European Union. Where this happens, the churches of Europe may have to challenge the abuse of power, subtle and not-so-subtle forms of social exclusion, and policies that discriminate unfairly against the vulnerable and exploited. European politicians must be reminded that, at the very least, to allow such abuses to continue is to miss an opportunity for the cultural, social, and religious renewal of truly sustainable societies.
Church responses will remain multi-level and highly flexible
European churches have typically responded in an ad hoc and unstructured fashion to the growing incidence of ethnic minority and migrant church presence. This might seem a weakness, but it might actually be highly appropriate in the face of a contemporary phenomenon that is characterized by transition, fluidity, contingency, impermanence, and high mobility. Across the continent there are signs that somewhat more settled patterns of residence are emerging, but significant parts of the migrant community in Europe remain susceptible to economic and employment factors. Flexibility of response and lightweight structures are likely to remain central characteristics of migrant programs for the foreseeable future in Europe.
European churches and mission agencies are in the vanguard of those working with migrants and migration issues, and 2010 was declared a year of European churches responding to migration. The vision of koinonia outlined in the New Testament does not permit social and ethnic diversity to become divisive. The most powerful testimony to a reconciling Gospel is to live that Gospel out within reconciled communities of the Kingdom. The experience of community should always move us beyond ourselves, however, to the vulnerable, needy, and lost who are to be found among migrants and refugees. Integration is rooted in the theological vision of the inter-trinitarian nature of God where essential differences are neither obscured nor allowed to become the cause of division or exclusion. The ultimate human experience of integration is found in the offer of salvation, through which God calls together diverse people into the one common household of faith, a communion of churches bound together in one body through fellowship and mutual covenant.
THE EUROPEAN UNION, MIGRATION, AND POLICY RESPONSES
The 27 member states of the EU have a combined population of just over 500 million. Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland belong to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) rather than the EU. The Council of Europe, founded in 1949 and pre-dating the EU, has a current membership of 47 countries (including all of Europe except Belarus). The Council of Europe represents a population of approximately 822 million.
In the first half of the 1970s immigration in Western Europe declined, followed by increases for most countries from the mid-1980s onwards. Between 1995 and 2003 most countries experienced fluctuations in the net annual rate of migration (the difference between immigration and emigration). By 2003 several cases, notably Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, reported a further decline in what was proving to be a longer-term trend. In other cases a downturn in 2003 followed a period of steady increase; for example in Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK. In Central and Eastern Europe the picture is more varied. There was evidence in 2003 of an increase in the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland and Slovenia, decreases in Lithuania and Romania, while Croatia and Latvia showed no obvious trend.
For several Western European countries the accession of new EU member states in 2004 resulted in fresh movements of migrant workers, most notably into countries such as the UK and Ireland. In 2006 there were 65,000 Poles in Ireland (although this is only just over half the number of British migrant workers in Ireland) and an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 Poles in the UK.
The European Union and internal migration
Every EU citizen has the right to travel to, reside in, and take up employment or self-employed activity in any of the EU member states. Some restrictions are still in place for Bulgaria and Romania (which joined the EU in 2007). Freedom of movement is aimed at increasing the mobility and flexibility of EU citizens within the EU and to open the borders not only for goods but also for people.
The policy approach of the EU towards internal migration is best described as management rather than control. The European courts will act where they feel a member state is restricting the rights of individual citizens to enjoy the fundamental freedoms they enjoy. The “four freedoms” of movement of goods, services, labor, and capital rest on a fundamental principle of EU law: No member state may discriminate against the citizens of another on grounds of nationality. The first paragraph of Article 39 of the European Community Treaty, for instance, concisely states, “Freedom of movement for workers shall be secured within the Community.”
The migration of Polish citizens to the United Kingdom and Ireland and that of Romanian citizens to Italy and Spain tends to distort perceptions of overall patterns of internal EU migration, which continue to show that significant percentages of immigrants are citizens of the country in question and that a majority of migrants in Europe are from the pre-2004 EU members states. Eurostat data indicate that in 2005 and 2006, citizens of the new EU states made up only 0.4 percent of the working-age population of the old members. In contrast, workers from other old EU countries made up about 2 percent of the EU-15 working age population.
An adequate discussion of contemporary migration in Europe must account for the many migrants who are citizens of one European Union country and who are temporarily or permanently resident in another European Union country. Unwary readers frequently trip over the fact that the EU’s immigration statistics also include citizens of EU countries who are entering or re-entering a country of which they are a citizen. This could be where the individuals have worked in another country for an extended period of residency in another country. It might also include children who are citizens of a country on account of one or both parents, and who are entering their country of citizenship for the first time, again after a significant period of residency since birth in another country. During 2008, 15% (or more than half a million) of all newly arrived “immigrants” in the countries of the European Union fell into these categories. Not surprisingly, missionaries and their children, born overseas, may frequently add to this total. In 2008, 56% of the non-nationals living in the EU had European citizenship from another EU member state; for example, there were 1.7 million Romanians living in another EU state in 2008.
The impact of these factors upon European indigenous Christianity is perhaps well illustrated by the experience of the Federation of Evangelical Religious Entities of Spain (FEREDE), which was able to argue successfully that, on the basis of German and British migrants living across the “sunshine belt” of the south, the Protestant population of Spain was actually far in excess of previous government-published statistics and that for this reason the state allocation of money to religious communities should be increased in favor of FEREDE.
Immigration into the European Union
The European Commission, the Council of Europe, and many migration and refugee NGOs have been pressing for harmonized approaches to migration and asylum across the EU for at least the past decade. Commenting on the expulsion from Italy of Roma (or Gypsies) who were Romanian citizens, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso remarked to the European media that it was “absurd to have 27 immigration policies in Europe.”
EU migration policy is currently focused on improving external border security (via its FRONTEX agency), harmonizing IT and security systems, streamlining migration policy, and developing pragmatically driven policies for migrant integration (including language acquisition).
The preferred countries of immigration in 2009 (with most popular first) are Italy, the UK, Spain, France, Sweden, and Belgium. In 2008, Chinese residents in the European Union (EU) were the fourth-largest group of non-EU residents, at an estimated 621,000. In 2006 they represented 8% of the immigrant population in Hungary. However, if one factors in the presence of EU migrants in other EU states, the Chinese migrant population is only the tenth-largest such population. European populations with a larger diaspora presence in Europe than that of China are Romania, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the UK, and Germany.
In 2001 it was estimated that there were as many as 150,000 Koreans in Western Europe. In 2008 there were 37,000 Vietnamese active in the Czech economy. In 2006, 13% of immigrants to Cyprus were from Sri Lanka and 10% were from the Philippines. In 2008, Eurostat estimated that 19.47 million non-EU citizens were living among an EU population of just over 500 million; this means that an average of 3.6% of the EU population is foreign-born. Of these, the most numerous were citizens from Turkey, Morocco, Albania, and China. Additionally, in 2008 there was a 6% decrease in immigration to the EU. Initial analysis shows the trend continuing in 2009.
Foreign-born nationals in 2010
There were 32 million foreign-born individuals living in the EU in 2010. In recent years, immigration has been the main driver behind population growth in most member states: between 2004 and 2008, 3 to 4 million immigrants settled in the EU-27 each year. In 2010, a breakdown of the population by citizenship showed that there were 32.4 million foreigners living in EU member states (6.5% of the total population). Of those, 12.3 million were EU nationals living in another member state and 20.1 million were citizens from a non-EU country.
In 2010, the largest numbers of foreign citizens were recorded in Germany (7.1 million persons), Spain (5.7 million), the United Kingdom (4.4 million), Italy (4.2 million), and France (3.8 million). Almost 80% of the foreign citizens in the EU lived in these five member states.
Among the EU member sates, the highest percentage of foreign citizens in the population was observed in Luxembourg (43% of the total population), followed by Latvia (17%), Estonia and Cyprus (both 16%), Spain (12%), and Austria (11%).
Asylum applications 2009–2010
From September 2009 to September 2010, the number of asylum applications across the EU fell by 15,000. Against this decrease there were increases in the number of applicants from Serbia and Macedonia. Most applications were processed in Germany (a total of 13,400).
Across the EU, 20% of asylum applicants are aged 13 and under. Also across the EU, 75% of asylum applications are rejected at the first consideration. The largest number of asylum applicants 2009–2010 arrived from Afghanistan, Russia, Serbia, Somalia, and Iraq.
INTEGRATIONIST MIGRANT POLICIES AND THE EU
In May 2007, then-EU home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini said “There can be no immigration without integration.” In February 2009 the Delegation of the European Commission to the USA reported “The integration of third-country nationals in EU Member States is one of the greatest challenges facing the common immigration policy and a key element in promoting economic and social cohesion within the EU.”
The text of Common basic principles for immigrant integration policy in the European Union outlines the EU’s commitment to integration and is focused on practical issues including language learning and ensuring access to healthcare, social provisions, education, and labor markets, as well as working towards active participation in civil and political processes. The document is only an outline of principles and cannot be legally enforced.
The Council of Europe report recognized in 1999 that some migrants choose assimilation, adapting their lifestyle to the social class to which they aspire to belong. This may involve a conscious rejection or letting go of language, names, forms of dress, or religious culture, among other things. Some migrants consciously seek integration, mostly basing their identity in the culture of their originating country, and some cultural hybridity seems inevitable, particularly among second- and third-generation families of the original migrants. A third group of migrants organize in terms of cultural or religious allegiance, particularly where the religion is seen as a universal religion. This is well advanced in the UK and France and, as far as Muslims are concerned, also in Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
According to Bedford-Strohm, migrants and asylum seekers in the European Union “should not be forced to abandon their own religious and cultural traditions for the sake of conforming to the receiving country.” In other words, they should not be obliged to assimilate. Assimilation, two-way integration, and multiculturalism describe policies that span a continuum.
According to the Global Commission on the Integration of Migrants,
Integration is a long-term and multi-dimensional process, requiring a commitment on the part of both migrants and non-migrant members of society to respect and adapt to each other, thereby enabling them to interact in a positive and peaceful manner.
CHURCHES RESPONDING TO MIGRANTS IN MISSION
Church and mission agency responses have tended to focus on several areas of mission activity: establishing, supporting, and networking with migrant congregations; promoting social and cultural integration; and providing welfare and advocacy services for asylum seekers, refugees, and trafficked migrants. More recently, attempts are being made to understand migration theologically and to learn from the migrant experience. Many migrants have their own active and important mission movements. For example, the Chinese Overseas Christian Mission, based in Milton Keynes, remains the most important Chinese Evangelical body in Europe. Back to Europe is a coalition of Latin American agencies and individuals working alongside European Christians to “stimulate a mission and prayer movement to re-engage Europe with the evangelistic mission of the church.”
Active churchgoers are frequently engaged in church and mission agency responses which have tended to focus on establishing, supporting, and networking with migrant congregations, on promoting social and cultural integration, and on providing welfare and advocacy services for asylum seekers, refugees, and trafficked migrants. More recent attempts are being made to understand migration theologically and to learn from the migrant experience.
In countries that are a source of trafficked individuals, mostly women, agencies such as the International Catholic Migration Commission have a significant anti-trafficking educational presence. Churches Against Sexual Trafficking in Europe (ChASTE) and similar agencies have adopted advocacy and mobilization strategies in countries of destination for trafficked women. Agencies such as the Greek Evangelical agency Helping Hands have established refugee centers in Athens that address a broader range of issues for migrants applying for asylum and seeking refugee status in Greece. In Hungary, the Reformed Church has been active in developing and supporting educational programs for the children of refugees.
These changes seem inevitable and necessary. In French-speaking Belgium, 20% of Protestant pastors and between 30–40% of Protestant church members are of African origin. In France, two migrant denominations are members of the French Protestant Federation, and there were a recorded 250 migrant congregations of African origin in Paris in 2005. In several of the German regional church assemblies there are conferences of foreign-language pastors. In the Netherlands there are three larger migrant denominations and a number of smaller groups that are in membership of the Dutch Council of Churches. In Norway there are seven migrant churches in a similar membership.
In 2010, the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe declared a “Year of European Churches Responding to Migration” and, at the conclusion of the year, published the results of its active engagement in integration issues through its MIRACLE program “Models of Integration through Religion: Activation, Cultural Learning and Exchange.” Practical policy recommendations were developed for European churches struggling to know how best to respond to the presence of migrant Christians in their congregations. Integration is likely to remain at the center of Europe-wide efforts to respond in mission and ministry to the presence of non-Europeans (Christian and otherwise) in Europe.
THE RESPONSE OF THE CHURCHES IN EUROPE TO INTEGRATION AND MIGRATION
The need for a willing acceptance of integration on the part of the migrant as well as on the part of the host culture or society can be rooted in a reading of the story of Ruth and Naomi. The vulnerable Moabitess declares a willingness to be integrated, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16–18); she is answered by Boaz, “May the Lord reward you for your deeds, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge!” (Ruth 2:11–13). The challenge for European churches is to promote integration policies that are short-term, detailed, and circumstantial, and which do not fall outside of a number of Biblical principles.
At the European Evangelical Alliance’s General Assembly in 2009, General Secretary Gordon Showell-Rogers underlined the need to address ethnic integration: “Integration is on the lips of many politicians and educators in our countries and at EU level. Everybody knows that it is vital. European Christians arguably have an almost unique selling point in this ‘niche market’: truly modelling integrated communities.”
In 2004 church-based agencies addressing migration and asylum welcomed the fact that integration had become a “top theme of EU migration policies.” Others cautioned against using integration and social cohesion as the sole measure of successful migration policy and practice, pointing to the existing contribution to national identity of ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity.
In 2001 the European and World Values Survey published data gathered from 2,000 citizens in each of thirty European countries. Analysis carried out by the Nova Research Centre shows that with increasing frequency of church attendance, a respondent is more likely to show a deeper level of concern for the living condition of migrants (see adjacent figure). A person who attends church once a week is twice as likely to feel concerned about the living condition of migrants as somebody who never goes to church. What these data suggest with regard to the integration of migrants is that the “average” European churchgoer is more likely to be socially “progressive” than socially “conservative.”
Pasarelli (2010) reported that despite initial enthusiasm for integration of migrants within the churches of Ireland, current levels of enthusiasm may be in decline. It is not clear at present whether this is because programs and strategies for integration have been judged inadequate or because effective policies are being resisted and resented.
The biblically inspired visions of the wolf, lamb, leopard, and goat lying down together (Isaiah 11:6) require contextualization across a continent whose populations, legal institutions, and political institutions are marked with the reality of sin. The obligation to take sin seriously falls upon the host country as well as upon migrants and those seeking asylum. Xenophobia and unscrupulous exploitation of the asylum processes are realities of contemporary EU migration policy and experience. Both are to be resisted because both ultimately undermine the dynamic towards integration.
This article is a part of a pilot version of the Lausanne Global Analysis. A planning team has begun working on the production of the new Lausanne Global Analysis. The Analysiswill provide multi-lingual analysis of issues facing the church and wordwide evangelization from a global network of regional leaders, researchers and writers. The launch as a monthly publication is tentatively scheduled for April 2012. (Learn more)
. An ethnic Romani man was arrested in November 2007 for the murder of an Italian women. This sparked a wave of ejections of Romanian Romani from Italy on the grounds that security concerns over-rode the EU basis of the free movement of people.
. Bedford-Strohm, H., “Responding to the Challenges of Migration and Flight from a Perspective of Theological Ethics,” in Theological Reflections on Migration: A CCME Reader (Brussels: Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe, 2008), 43–4.
. See the joint communiqué Integrating Migrants – Integrating Societies: Essential Elements for EU Migration Policy of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Europe (COMECE), Caritas Europe, the Churches Commission for Migrants in Europe, and the Quaker Council for European Affairs, plus others, at http://www.jrseurope.org/Integrating%20migrants%20integrating%20societies.pdf.
. In practice I would personally err towards what Campese has described as a “preferential option for the undocumented migrant.” I choose this option as a consequence of encounters with individuals who describe convincing experiences of torture yet who have been repeatedly ignored or considered to be lying by border officials and government authorities. See Gioacchino Campese, “Beyond Ethnic and National Imagination: Toward a Catholic Theology of U.S. Immigration,” in Religion and Social Justice for Immigrants, ed. Pierrette Honadneu-Sotelo (New York: Rutgers University Press, 2007), 181.