Heidelberg – ESI on fear of migration and the state of democracy in Europe

27 April 2024
Gerald at the VHS Heidelberg
Gerald at VHS Heidelberg, Photo: VHS Heidelberg

Gerald Knaus attended the Volkshochschule Heidelberg’s (vhs Heidelberg) Day of Europe, held in the run-up to the 2024 European elections. For the Day of Europe, the vhs Heidelberg holds a series of events on European ideas, conceptions of Europe, European culture and European values. In this context, Gerald was invited to give a lecture on “Angst vor Migration und die Zukunft der Demokratie”, or “Fear of migration and the future of democracy”.

In his lecture, Gerald noted the danger to democracy in Europe posed by the ongoing failure to find a sustainable, legal way of providing protection to refugees. This failure, Gerald showed, has allowed the illiberal far-right to stoke widespread fear using loaded rhetoric about the potential effects of uncontrollable mass-migration. Sketching a better path, Gerald noted the importance of both Humane Bordersand legal resettlement pathways.

With this combination of legal pathways, Safe Third Country Agreements, and controlled borders, the process of bringing those in need of protection to Europe can be managed in a systematic, sustainable, humane manner governed by the rule-of-law – not smugglers. This will be better for both those needing protection – guaranteeing them protection without forcing them to undertake the deadly journey across the Aegean and Mediterranean seas – and Europe, which can reassert the primacy of the rule-of-law.

A legal pathway would also ensure that those arriving in Europe have valuable skills to help them earn a living and contribute to society. Gerald pointed out that studies show how the European cities that have among the highest levels of accepted asylum seekers also have the highest standard of living.