BRIEF: THE EU’S REFUGEE AND TERRORISM CRISISThis document has been produced with the assistance of theEuropean Union and the U.S. Department of Education. Thecontents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the UNCCenter for European Studies and in no way can be taken to reflectthe views of the European Union or the U.S. Department ofEducationINTRODUCTION: WEAPONIZED MIGRATION?The EU is in crisis. This crisis is the result of a largeinflux of refugees trying to escape various conflicts inSyria, Iraq and Libya. It is also the result of anincreasing number of high-profile attacks andattempted attacks in mainland Europe and thewidespread reports across the continent of refugeemen robbing and sexually assaulting Europeanwomen in public open spaces. The crisis hasfundamentally altered the way that Europeancitizens currently view the free movement of people,their own Muslim populations and offering safehaven to those escaping war zones.General Philip Breedlove, who is NATO’s SupremeAllied Commander, made the strong claim in March2016 that Russia and Syria had ‘weaponizedimmigration’.1 He argued that the use of Syrian barrelbombs against civilian populations was designed toget those populations to move, and to relocateproblem populations outside of Syrian borders.These displaced populations have relocated toJordan, or travelled through Turkey and onto theEuropean Union. There has been a mixed response inthe EU to the crisis, with a small contingent holding aview that these refugees should be helped onhumanitarian grounds, and a growing percentageThe UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.edufeeling that the financial burden and security risks ofaccommodating these refugees outweigh thehumanitarian norms. Southern European countrieswho have been the first point of entry for migrantshave complained about the financial burden of thecrisis. In northern Europe, finance has also played arole in the resistance to the numbers of refugeesarriving, but societal cohesion and security –particularly following the high profile attacks onParis and Brussels - have played a more prominentrole in the public’s thinking. This brief explores thebackground to this current European refugee andterrorism crisis, the possible short and medium termoutcomes of the crisis, including the dangers itpresents to European politics and culture, and finallyhow the crisis can be mitigated by European policymakers.TERRORISM AND THE REFUGEE CRISISThe threat from jihadist terrorism has been starklyexperienced by European populations in Madrid in2004, London 2005 in the coordinated bombingattacks (non-suicide in the case of Madrid, andsuicide in the case of London), and then morerecently with two Mumbai-style paramilitaryattacks on Paris (January and November 2015), anattack on a Thalys train that was thwarted, and acoordinated partial suicide attack on Brussels inMarch 2016. It has become clear to Europeanpopulations that they now live under conditions offear, and that terrorist attacks will be an unfortunateway of life for them way into the medium term. TheA Jean Monnet Center of

fallout from the Snowden affair sits uneasily with agrowing realization that greater levels of intelligenceand surveillance activity, along with informationsharing across Europe and the US will be required toroll back some of threat from jihadist terrorism.2One part of the controversy that swirled around theNovember 2015 attack on Paris was the presence ofattackers who had travelled many times betweenEurope and Syria, and the speculation that several ofthe support team had arrived as refugees into Europe.This speculation dovetailed to link the threat fromterrorism with the arrival of around a millionrefugees from Syria. It might have been possible tocontain the public reaction to such a connection, as ithad been after the Madrid and London attacks, wereit not for widespread reporting of robberies andsexual assaults by refugees in northern Europeancities across the Christmas and New Year periodrunning into 2016. This merely confirmed some ofthe narratives that had been present around the Parisattacks that Islam and Christianity arefundamentally incompatible, and that Muslim men(in particular) harbored troubling and disrespectfulviews about women (in general) and about white,European women in particular. The sheer number ofrefugees arriving in a matter of months has putrather a large percentage of European populations infear, destabilized societies, and with young womenhaving to change the way they behave and movearound cities at night, changed something of theculture and atmosphere in cities, whilst also sharplypolarizing political elites who remain wedded to theliberal project of helping refugees, with publics whoare rapidly drawing the conclusion that their elitesare overlooking the real threats.THE PROBLEM OF COLOGNE (AND OTHEREUROPEAN CITIES)Cologne is a vibrant German city, an economicsuccess story, and a city entirely rebuilt following itsalmost complete destruction during Allied bombingin World War Two. By most measures – scientific andanecdotal – Cologne is a peaceful city, with aharmonious blend of cultures, as is the case in mostThe UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.edusmall northern European cities. But Cologne hascome to represent the problem and failure of therefugee policy in Europe, and Germany in particular.More than a million refugees entered Germanyduring 2015, in a population of 81.1 millions3, anuplift of 1.3%. The number of refugees enteringGermany and German cities like Cologne isproblematic: it is difficult for any country to takesuch a large number of people so quickly, add intothis that these people are arriving from nationswhich are very culturally different to Germany, andfrom active conflict zones too, then the problem ofaccommodation becomes even starker.The reason why Cologne became an emblem for thechallenges and problems of mass refugee migrationcan be found on New Year’s Eve 2015 into 2016. It isestimated that around a thousand refugee mengathered outside the train station in Cologne duringthe evening. From this group of a thousand, anunspecified number emerged and carried out oneconfirmed rape and over 700 confirmed incidents ofsexual assaults against local German women andgirls in the public open spaces of the city during theevening. It later emerged that something similar hadoccurred during festivals in Stockholm, Swedenduring 2015 but the news had been suppressed by thepolice.4 In Cologne, it was reported that the attackson young women had been coordinated from themain rump of the crowd using mobile phones andsocial media. This coordinated mass sexual assault,which was accompanied by low level robberies,looked – then – either like an organized criminalactivity or one run by jihadists to divide populations.At the time of writing it is still not clear what themotivation of the perpetrators were. It sits outside ofwhat we currently know about criminality withinGerman refugee communities. During 2015 refugeescommitted 186,000 criminal offences in Germany ofmostly low-level thefts and mostly against otherrefugees. Those offenses with a sexual connotationonly formed 1% of the reported crimes amongst thisgroup.5 So, the Cologne incident was both shocking tothe people of Cologne and Germany, it was also anoutlier, and one whose timing has placed a largeA Jean Monnet Center of

amount of pressure on German Chancellor Merkeland her ‘open door’ refugee policy.The German Chancellor had positioned herselfduring 2015 as being determined to face the historicchallenge of accommodating the large number ofrefugees heading towards the EU. But as the Colognecontroversy broke and developed during early 2016,she was forced to temper her message, and to talk oflegitimate versus illegal migrants, to avoid beingunseated by poor election results. The speed at whichGerman politics polarized raised unfortunatehistorical resonances, as charismatic right-wing andpopulist politicians gained the sort of traction theyhad not enjoyed for many decades.One version of this populism comes from the groupPegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamizationof the West, and from the original German:Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung desAbendlandes) which sprung up in the German city ofDresden and which essentially conducts anti-Islamicand anti-immigration street protests, and seeks toevoke a ‘wholly white Germany’, the like of whichhas not existed in living memory. Pegida hasinternational branches in Norway, Denmark,Sweden, Belgium, Spain and the UK, but their impactin those countries has been limited thus far. Anotherversion is the political party, Alternative fürDeutschland (AfD) who has made its name opposingMerkel’s open door migration policy and also theactivities of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.The AfD attracted some controversy when its coleader, Frauke Petry, was taken to be advocating theshooting of migrants trying to effect illegal entry intoGermany. She subsequently repositioned thisstatement. Whether the rise of these groups can bepositively correlated to incidents of violence againstmigrants or migration centers is not entirely clear.However, German police have recorded circa 300attacks on migrant accommodation in the first fewmonths of 2016 (the reporting of which has includedboth low level crime such as graffiti and more seriouscrimes such as arson). This compares to 1029incidents during the whole of 2015, 199 in 2014, and69 in 2013.6 Crimes against migrants and theirThe UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.edusupport infrastructure do seem to positivelycorrelate to absolute numbers of refugees seekingasylum.However, in the three regional state elections onMarch 13 that effectively formed the first electoraltest of Merkel’s refugee policy, Merkel’s ChristianDemocratic Union of Germany Party (CDU) sufferedelectoral losses as a result. The AfD won 15.1 per centin Baden-Württemberg, 12.6 per cent in RhinelandPalatinate and 24.2 per cent in Saxony-Anhalt, whichis well known for a residual core of far-rightsupporters. Merkel’s CDU party, by contrast won asurprisingly low 30.3 per cent in BadenWürttemberg, 31.8 per cent in Rhineland-Palatinateand 29.8 per cent in Saxony-Anhalt. The socialdemocratic SPD did badly in Baden-Württembergand Saxony-Anhalt (12.7% and 10.6%), whilstregistering a respectable 36.2% in RhinelandPalatinate. Recriminations has persisted since midMarch about whether Merkel’s policy was politicallyexpedient, and subsequently she has sounded a morecautious note around the refugee issue. For the issueto not feature so prominently in future elections, thesheer volume of refugees entering Germany willneed to dramatically decrease in number, theperception of criminality from these groups will needto have decreased and the number of terroristincidents will have also needed to have receded.Getting cities like Cologne back to the peaceable andrelatively fear free cultures they enjoyed prior to2015 will be the larger and longer term test ofeffective policy making in this sphere. There is,however, some evidence that the numbers travellingto Germany have begun to decrease with registeredarrivals in Germany dropped in March 2016 to circa20,000 from circa 61,000 in February 2016, 92,000 inJanuary 2016 and their November 2015 peak of206,000.A TROUBLED AND TEMPORARY DEAL WITHTURKEYThe pressure on Europe’s southern borders from thenumber of refugees seeking to escape from theconflict zones in the Middle East has led the EU toA Jean Monnet Center of

contemplate and propose a very ambitious deal withTurkey in March 2016, one which some internationallawyers claim breaches the UN’s guidelines on thetreatment of refugees. The core of the deal is a verystraightforward 1:1 resettlement program: all Syrianrefugees and economic migrants arriving on a Greekisland will be immediately returned to Turkey. Inreturn, refugees properly processed in Turkey andaccepted as being worthy of entry to the EU will beaccepted into the EU from Turkey and distributedacross the EU member states according to a formulathat has yet to be agreed by the Member States. Thisaims, partly, to throttle some of the supply ofrefugees into the EU, to choke off the irregularmigration currently destabilizing parts of Europe,and to remove the incentives for refugees to seek outpeople traffickers.Conscious of how desperate the EU has become to seesome sort of resolution or improvement to therefugee crisis, the Turkish government negotiatedfrom a position of strength to reframe its relationshipwith the EU over the coming medium term. TheTurkish government has extracted the pledge of aEuropean visa waiver for Turkish citizens (whichcould be in place by June 2016), Cyprus waspersuaded to lift some of its opposition to Turkishmembership of the EU and additional EU funding toTurkey would be in place by 2018.The deal with Turkey is hastily created, and from theEU Member State perspective it is hastily created inorder to meet the pressing political and increasinglyelectoral problems associated with thousands ofSyrian, Iraqi and Libyan refugees travelling to theEU. After several years of this deal with Turkey it islikely that the EU would have been forced to acceptand resettle hundreds of thousands of Syrians. Theproblems with this will be found in the political,social and security spheres. It is well established thatthe Islamic State group has placed its operativeswithin the refugee convoys, and so the EU is likely tobe importing battle-hardened and exceptionallydangerous men, housing them and offering themfinancial and social support. Allied intelligencecovering Syria is patchy, at best, and so correctlyThe UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.eduidentifying who are adversaries as opposed to thosewho come in peace is an impossible task. We alsoknow from the November 2015 and March 2016attacks on Paris and Brussels that the Europeanintelligence network - facilitated in part by bilateralrelationships between intelligence and securityagencies and partly through Europol – is similarlypatchy. Indeed, when the intelligence relates topeople and activities on Belgian soil, it can beaccurately described as weak and dysfunctional. So,the EU-Turkey deal allows for the import ofconsiderable risk, when the counterintelligencecapabilities of the EU, as a whole, are not up to thetask. This is politically very dangerous for sittingEuropean governments. As more and more attackstake place across Europe, the connection to refugeesand the deal with Turkey will become toxic. It seemsthat a good number of European governments havealready realised this. The German Chancellor hasfound herself increasingly isolated as she seeks tofind partners willing to take some of these refugees.Whilst Germany has gently mooted that it might take200,000 – 300,000 refugees, the British governmenthas said it will take a maximum of 20,000 over5years, other smaller European states have notpledged to firm numbers and have soundedambivalent, whilst the Hungarian government haspromised a veto over the deal if it is suggested that itwill be forced to take any refugees.There are – therefore – considerable issues aroundthe taking of refugees, but of near equal magnitude isthe subsidiary issue of pledging to allow visa freetravel to 75million Turkish Muslims. This iscontroversial because Turkey is by no means seen byEuropean publics as being a reliable or safe partner,with Turkey being the transit route for jihadiststravelling from Europe to fight in Syria. AllowingTurks visa-free travel would open most mainstreamEuropean governments up to sustained attacks frompopulist, right-wing parties. It might well – forexample - change the nature of the upcoming FrenchPresidential election allowing Marie Le Pen of theNational Front into the final run off for President.A Jean Monnet Center of

There are also strong suspicions, fueled by Russia’sunusual act of placing intelligence into the publicrealm, that the links between Turkey’s governingclasses and Islamic State are uncomfortably close.7But anonymized interviews with senior diplomatsinvolved in the EU-Turkey negotiation report thatRecep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, hasprized the visa access for his citizens above all else inthe negotiations, because it would be electorallypopular in Turkey. Before the refugee crisis, the EUhad been negotiating with Turkey to gently breakdown and liberalize the existing visa controls, whilsttying progress to the admissions criteria formembership to the EU (the five chapters), and withno guarantees that some Member States, like France,would agree at all. The crisis brought this timetableforward, and under much friendlier terms to Turkey,moving from a liberalization of visa controls to thesorts of freedoms given to Schengen area members.This element of the EU-Turkey deal remains in thebalance, due to the sheer amount of work that wouldneed to be done to get it agreed and signed off in timefrom both sides.There are further legal problems with the EU-Turkeydeal. Turkey is not a full member of the GenevaConventions and thus it might be illegal to returnrefugees to Turkey. It is not clear that Turkeyconforms to the definition of a ‘safe country’ forrefugees (and the EU deal only covers those comingfrom Syria, making it potentially hazardous for nonSyrians). Immigration and human rights lawyershave claimed that the deal would fail if broughtbefore the European Court of Human Rights inStrasbourg, which opens up the prospect that theEuropean leaders who have brokered this deal havedone so for the short term expediency of temporarilybreaking the flow of refugees into northern Europe,whilst relieving some of the pressure on Greecewhich has borne the brunt of processing largenumbers of immediate arrivals.SUMMARY: THE EUROPEAN PROJECT IN PERILThe EU currently faces a set of unprecedentedchallenges in its short history. It faces several sourcesThe UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.eduof geopolitical instability at a moment of acuteweakness which, when combined, form anexistential threat to the future of the EU.The EU is confronted with the prospect of enduringinstability on its Eastern flank. A resurgent andactivist Russia has taken Ukrainian territory in theform of the Crimean annexation, and effectivelydestabilized the Ukrainian government in a show ofstrength and punishment for the closer relationsbetween the EU and Ukraine. The EU has shown itselfto be particularly weak and ineffective in offeringsupport to the Ukrainians and the absence ofcapabilities or cohesive will to effectively check theRussians means that further destabilization ofEastern Europe is all but guaranteed.The insecurity from the refugee crisis that is focusedon Southern Europe, but which is now found acrossthe whole of Europe also contains a Russiandimension. Whilst Europe and the US backed thelargely misnamed ‘moderate forces’ in Syria againstthe sitting government of Bashar Al-Assad, theRussians backed their ally, Al-Assad and providedeffective military support against those moderateforces. The misalignment between the European andUS allies and Russia allowed the Islamic State to growinto a large problem. Whilst Russia has an interest indefeating the Islamic State, its greater interest is inpreserving the regime of Al-Assad, and securing afriendly successor to him. The US and EU werepolitically unable to deploy sufficient force to make adifference in the Syrian civil war, and so are nowfaced with the prospect of having an implacableenemy of the west, and previous state sponsor ofterrorism remaining in power in Syria, whilst havingalso not killed off a dangerous enemy in the form ofthe Islamic State. This toxic cocktail of circumstancesin Syria has caused an enormous displacement ofpeople, a large number of whom are now heading forwhat they imagine to be more peaceful lives inEurope.The displacement of people in Syria, Iraq and Libyahas also provided an opportunity for radicalizedjihadists to take their war to Europe. Theunrestrained migration of the 1990s and early 2000sA Jean Monnet Center of

of Islamic communities into Europe, and who mostlyclustered into small geographical locations, has nowtaken on a hostile and risky connotation that was notthere at the time. Consequently, the very culture andfabric of Europe is currently under huge strain – thetranquil cobbles of Belgium cities are now heavilypoliced, Parisian cafés are no longer places ofunadulterated relaxation, German, Swedish andDanish town squares are no longer places for eveningstrolls, and the free movement of European peopleacross borders has become less free. The political andsocial effect created by the relatively limitedapplication of (terroristic) military force is asastonishing as it is frightening. A compelling andcharismatic political force who calls out the threatand the risks to their country or to Europe morewidely in a compelling way, will be able to disrupt thenormal pattern of European politics. An attack on theUK prior to the June 2016 referendum on EUmembership might well push the British public tocall time on its EU membership: the call frompopulist politicians that the UK ‘has lost control of itsborders’ has an unfortunate resonance currently.received an adequate response. Finally, the issuessurrounding Turkey are a further long-termchallenge for the EU: Turkey wants accession to theEU, but it does not want to obey the democraticnorms around elections, free speech or free mediademanded of the EU. Its status as a Muslim nationdeeply concerns European publics and there isevidence that it has assisted and traded with theIslamic State in Syria and Iraq, raising the question ofwhere its allegiances lie. Turkey is embedded intoEuropean security structures and yet remains alliedto questionable actors, and is currently deeplyantagonistic towards Russia at a moment where theEU would benefit from cooperative working withRussia.WRITTEN 13 APRIL 2016The solutions to these current challenges arecomplex and multifaceted. The short-term solutionscenter on radical improvements to intelligencesharing and surveillance techniques across Europe,and on persuading Muslim communities to do moreto report those in their communities who havebecome radicalized and to make greater efforts tocombat radicalization. Ultimately Muslim refugeeand migrant communities have got to do more toalign their value sets to the communities they areentering: a failure to do so will result in violent socialtension. The longer-term solutions are geopolitical:finding a way to stabilize the Middle East and toremove permissive environments for radicalizationis key. In the short-term this will mean militarilydefeating terrorist groups, but longer term, findingbetter political solutions even if this means toleratingbenign dictators who mean us no harm. Finding waysof neutralizing, containing or agreeing with Russiawill also be key. Russian foreign policy activism haswrong-footed European Member States and the EU:its use of hybrid warfare against the EU has not yetThe UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.eduA Jean Monnet Center of

Geoff Dyer (1 March 2016), Nato accuses Russia of ‘weaponising’ immigrants, Financial Times 1e5-b67f-a61732c1d025.html#ixzz42JtV1eom2Jim Brunsden (5 April 2016), Paris attacks forced Europe to focus on counter-terrorism, Financial Times (London)3According the 2014 census4Richard Milne and Stefan Wagstyl (11 January 2016), Swedish police face allegations of cover up over mass sex assault,Financial Times (London) 8a339b6f2164.html#axzz45WPW2l885Stefan Wagstyl (15 January 2016) Taboos shattered as Germany agonises over Cologne attacks, Financial Times(London), 8a339b6f2164.html#axzz45WPW2l886Stefan Wagstyl (6 April 2016), Germany considers easing border checks after migrant flows slow, Financial Times(London), 8600cef2ca75.html?siteedition uk7Tom Brooks-Pollack (5 December 2015), Russia unveils 'proof' Turkey's Erdogan is smuggling Isis oil across borderfrom Syria, The Independent (London), r-its-border-a6757651.html1The UNC Center for European Studieseurope.unc.eduA Jean Monnet Center of

Deutschland (AfD) who has made its name opposing Merkel’s open door migration poliy and also the activities of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The AfD attracted some controversy when its co-leader, Frauke Petry, was taken to be advocating the shooting