Europe and Refugees in 2015: A Crisis of Memory? Etude de l'Ifri, December 2016
Contrary to other immigration societies such as the United States, Canada or Australia, migrations is not a core element of European narratives on shared identity. Each country maintains a very particular understanding of his migratory past and on the extent to which it should become part of the national narrative. The question of a European memory of migration therefore struggles to emerge.
The rapid acceleration of refugees’ arrival since spring 2015, together with the inability of European governments to agree on a common answer have introduced a new chapter to the European history of migration. Yet, the so-called “refugee crisis” does not help making asylum a significant element of European identity. However, the global refugee protection regime was born in Europe and designed for European refugees with the adoption of the 1951 Geneva Convention. On several occasions, Europe has built itself around this question: post-war and cold war refugees, South East Asian and South American refugees in the 1970s, the Balkan war, etc…While Europe was first established as a place of refuge, Europeans struggle to consider it as such today. This lack of shared memory is one the refugee crisis’ highlights.
This study offers a comparison between diverse ways to grasp the memory of asylum in Greece, Germany and France; as well as an analysis of NGOs approaches to the memory of migrations.
These contributions come from a conference entitled “Europe and refugees in 2015 : a crisis of memory”, organized by the Ifri on November 2015. This conference was part of the project “Memory and migration in Europe”, conducted by the Ifri in partnership with the University of Amsterdam, the University of Warwick, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and the French network of institutes for advanced study, with the support of the “Europe for Citizens” programme of the European Union.