Did the European Union policy response to the large-scale movement of people from the Middle East and Africa introduce pull-factors that encouraged new and/or continued movements from these regions?

  • 2
    Questions which say "could be seen" aren't normally a brilliant fit for this site. There are people for whom not shelling migrant ships is too much encouragement, and there are people who think handing every person that lands 10,000€ at the beach wouldn't be a pull factor.
    – origimbo
    Oct 30, 2018 at 11:53
  • Applications for asylum in the EU have declined in both 2016 and 2017. "large-scale movement of people from ... Africa" to Europe has been occurring for at least well over a thousand years. Policy cannot stop the migration of people from one place to another on this planet. See also Migrant from Africa to Europe by sea from North Africa Oct 30, 2018 at 13:37
  • @guest271314 Policy most certainly can stop - or at least significantly decrease - the migration of people from one place to another on this planet. Mexico has done pretty well reducing immigration, with policies far more draconian than USAs. USSR had virtually no illegal immigration. Neither does Saudi Arabia.
    – user4012
    Oct 31, 2018 at 1:56
  • @user4012 Certainly not as a piece of paper alone. By the time a formal "policy" is drafted people have largely already moved. No policy to restrict European colonization by native peoples stopped Europeans from slaughtering entire populations during the course several hundred years. Some have asked what the European response to the "Trail of Tears" was: millions of Europeans getting the hell out of Europe "settling" in lands where the "Indian Removal" policy was implemented. Policy can be effective when the goal is to colonize, to reduce the infidel to perpetual servitude, e.g., Dum Diversas. Oct 31, 2018 at 2:10

2 Answers 2


It would be a mistake to think of one "wave" of migrants. There are different groups with different pull and push factors.

  • Civil war refugees from Syria and Iraq. Many stayed in the region until the international community slashed aid to the camps. These people were willing to risk death to get away from where they were because staying would mean slow death. Clearly push factors.
  • Civil war refugees from places like Afghanistan or Somalia. Probably many of them were not aware that getting to Europe was feasible before 2015, so there might have been pull factors here. But objectively, they had every reason to leave and if Europe lived up to its ideals they should get refugee status.
  • Economic refugees from extreme poverty and violence in central Africa. Same as for the refugees from Afghanistan. In previous decades many died in their home countries instead of marching north.
  • Economic migrants from relative poverty and political oppression in northern Africa. They could survive where they are, it just wouldn't be a good life. The asylum policies may be pull factors here.
  • Economic migrants from within Europe, e.g. from Albania and Kosovo. Not many people talk about them, but look at the EU refugee statistics from 2015 and before. A change in regulations slashed refugee numbers since then.

Short answer is, yes. I'm not even going to argue that the Western countries caused that very wave of migration with actions such as the invasion of Iraq or the support for the "arab spring" movement (that began the civil wars that caused a lot of those migrations), or the completely unjustified action against Khaddafi that transformed Lybia from a stable country to a hive of terrorists and slave traders. But yes, most "refugee boats" leave Africa from Lybia now.

  • Thank you. But what were those pull-factor policies?
    – 52d6c6af
    Oct 30, 2018 at 14:08
  • @Ben "The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. (hereinafter referred to as "the Treaties")." (emphasis added) EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - Article 18 - Right to asylum Oct 30, 2018 at 14:14
  • But does that not simply encode the Geneva Convention in EU rules, or does it extend it somehow?
    – 52d6c6af
    Oct 30, 2018 at 14:21
  • @Ben "This policy must be consistent with the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol thereto of 31 January 1967. Neither the TFEU nor the Charter provides a definition of the terms ‘asylum’ or ‘refugee’, but both refer explicitly to the Geneva Convention and its Protocol." (emphasis added) Migration and Asylum: a challenge for Europe (Source: European Parliament). The EU is party to specific treaties. What do you mean by "extend"? Oct 30, 2018 at 14:22
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    @Ben: I would say that those pull-factor policies could be split between official and unofficial. Officially, you have the fact that countries like Germany not only accepted every asylum request, even in cases where there were no documents and it was impossible to determine the origin of the migrant, but actually made it mandatory that all European countries accepted refugees, even countries to where those refugees weren't going to. Unofficially, you have the fact that multiple European politicians publicly stated multiple times that "Europe needs migrants to deal with declining demographics".
    – fp25
    Oct 30, 2018 at 14:34

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