Europe is encountering a whole host of risks that threaten to rip the continent apart both politically and financially.
However, the migration crisis is “a graver risk to Europe than the financial and economic crisis that preceded it,” says the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The EIU’s “Europe stretched to the limit” report details how the migration crisis — where over a million migrants are seen to be arriving by sea to Europe alone annually — presents the biggest risk to Europe causing huge political fractures within the continent. The crisis has the potential to cause serious legal and economic repercussions, the EIU adds.
“The euro zone responded to financial crisis by repeatedly ‘kicking the can down the road,’ but that’s not an option when thousands of refugees and migrants are arriving every day,” added the EIU in statement accompanying the report.
Europe is embroiled in the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) confirmed on December 30, 2015 that more than one million refugees and migrants reached the continent by sea since the start of 2015. This is versus 219,000 in 2014.
The organisation confirmed the data on its website and included a whole host of charts to show how the number of immigrants — which include those fleeing from war, people seeking asylum and those classified as economic migrants by the government because they are seeking better lives and jobs without necessarily seeking asylum status — has shot up since 2014.
While European Union members are all trying to thrash out the best way to accommodate the one million migrants arriving in the 28-nation bloc per year, some countries like Greece are struggling to cope with the influx due to its own battered economy.
“The EU-Turkey deal has bought some breathing space, but it is beset by formidable political, legal and practical problems,” said the EIU.
“If it collapses, we are back at square one and facing a crisis with the potential to pull the EU apart. The EIU expects that national governments and supranational institutions will manage to ‘muddle through’ most of Europe’s crises over a medium-term horizon, albeit at a significant political and economic cost.”
“Greece is the exception to this rule: it is more likely than not (60%) that Greece will have left the euro zone by 2020. It is questionable whether any Greek government, of any political complexion, could implement the measures required under the third bail-out programme. A Grexit would represent a huge political failure for the bloc, with potentially destabilising consequences: the principle of irreversibility would have been shattered.”
In March, the EU and Turkey sealed a deal to allow Greece to send back migrants that either do not apply for asylum or fail in their claims.
In order to enforce the deal, the EU is sending 2,300 officials to help ensure the new agreement succeeds.
However, the EIU warns that “the deal may be illegal” and “this could lead to legal challenges, which, if successful, could undermine the effectiveness of the new scheme.”