Europe Jam on Minority and Migratory experiences 🇪🇺
Our third edition of the Europe Jams linked two major themes with several overlaps: Minority and Migration Experiences. In this session, we wanted to focus on the experiences of the participants to make room for different perspectives. Our intern Max Tjong-Ayong reports back from the discussion.
As in previous weeks, the Europe Jam started with a short round of introductions, in which participants from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic, South Africa and the USA presented their interest in the topic at hand. The small but diverse group first discussed the biggest challenges of the crisis-ridden EU migration policy.
Two participants pointed out that throughout human history, migration and mobility have repeatedly contributed to ensuring survival and improving living conditions. Thus, problems associated with migration could not be solved by closing borders. Several participants expressed their displeasure about the EU migration policy and the consequences of the refugee agreement with Turkey.
“You need a system that can provide the necessary quality of life for refugees – what we saw now in Moria is absolutely unacceptable for the European Union
“In the Czech Republic the integration of the Vietnamese community is often used as a way of putting other groups of immigrants or refugees down.”
Our Europe Jam on Migration and Minorities
To them, another challenge is the social divide on migration: one participant reported fundamentally different opinions on immigration even within her circle of friends.
Another participant told the group that especially older people in the Czech Republic were often critical of immigration and she observed a tendency of stereotyping immigrant groups.
The rather critical perception of migration among older age groups would slowly be alleviated by younger age groups experiencing the benefits that migration can bring. In that sense, NGOs and civil society could make a decisive contribution to ensuring a more in-depth discussion of the causes, experiences and consequences of migration.
The high emotionalisation of the issues of “migration” and “refugees” could be counteracted in this way, so that discussions within society could be conducted in a more objective and targeted manner.
The participants agreed that existing barriers should be reduced and that migrants and minorities should be better represented politically than it is currently the case in the EU.
At the end of the event, the question was raised to what extent direct democratic processes could contribute to creating a better awareness of migration and minority experiences. Two participants noted that the system in which such processes take place is crucial.
To make decisions on such emotional issues as migration, citizens would need to obtain experience in dealing with direct participation and information.
Swiss referenda, for example, had shown that extremist and radical tendencies were more likely to be rejected by the Swiss citizens. In the UK, on the other hand, where people have had less experience with direct-democratic processes, the results of the Brexit referendum have shown that citizens are more receptive to emotionalization and false information.
“The topic of migration should not be so emotionalised. We should talk rationally about numbers and facts. So that people can see why people migrate from certain countries and what our responsibility is”
The small but diverse composition of the participants in the Europe Jam on Minority and Migratory Experiences allowed everyone to join the free discussion – all those present were able to have their say and report on their personal experiences on the topics of the session. We were also particularly happy that a few familiar faces from past Europe Jams took part in our discussion round again and invited everyone to support our format with interesting food for thought and ideas!
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