Rethinking Migration: Conversations on Social Gap in Europe

The European Parliament through JEF Europe (Young European Federalists) sponsored me to the (EYE) European Youth Event 2023 in Strasbourg France. Not far from my position as a non-EU citizen and research interests, I engaged the conservations on how European youths can influence the attitudes and perceptions of citizens towards migration and ultimately influence the economic and educational integration and social inclusion of all migrants in Europe.

It is alarming that about 48.4% of non-EU citizens are faced with the risk of poverty or social exclusion. Wow! This undoubtedly calls for an emergency need for the integration of migration into all forms of development plans and into policies affecting everyday life in Europe. Three sessions at the EYE 2023 piloted these conversations:

Three sessions piloted these conversations:

1. Welcome to Europe? Migration in the EU This conversation organized by the Youth Outreach Unit of the European Parliament questioned the human rights abuses experienced in EU borders. Importantly, it acknowledged that in a true display of solidarity, the EU has warmly welcomed thousands of refugees, but, in many cases, it depends on whether you have a “blue eye and blond hair.” Ultimately, the question and concern is: can we rethink migration as an opportunity for the aging European society and how can Europe facilitate integration and celebrate diversity?

2. Experimental Museum: Let’s challenge educational gaps Asociación Sobre Los Márgenes presented a role-playing experiment that emphasized the disparity between the privileged and those suffering from a lack of basic resources. The brief states that across Europe, second-generation migrant students are systematically more disadvantaged than their native peers. The questions and concerns consequently are: why do socioeconomic origin and race still play a role in the European educational systems? What measures have been proposed to challenge this reality? and what can we do to make education more inclusive?

3. The social gap in Europe: Can we do better? Again the Youth Outreach Unit of the European Parliament is bringing to debate the policies that can help create a more equal society. While this concerns all European citizens, I take particular interest in migrants whose level of disparity and exclusion is worse than any other group within the demography of Europe. While asking if the minimum wage should be higher, it is equally important to ask, why are migrants unable to access opportunities for existing minimum wages.

In the end, one question summarizes the conversation: what Europe do Europeans and European residents want to see for themselves and future generations? I have the simplest answer there is: a progressive Europe.

Citizens must start to acknowledge migration for what it is — the creation of a balance between people and place — migrants are coming to help us be better. A celebration of this diversity is the strength Europe is yet to maximize. The first step is to decolonize Europe through institutional politics and policies, and by citizens’ reconstruction of perceptions and attitudes. Until no European politician can win an election by propagating exclusion and anti-migration rhetoric, just until then, is the dream of a more equal progressive Europe far from actualization.

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