2017 was a year of enormous change for the world. America elected a populist leader that openly mocked the political process for the very first time, but this was not the only nation in the west that ended up seeing a distinct change in its political rhetoric. The EU also saw a lot of change. Some may argue that the fact that the EU did not end up electing a populist leader might show that the area is going in the right direction, but one thing to note is that populist leaders don’t need to get elected in order to have widespread change over the political landscape of any particular nation.
One distinctly right wing idea that seeped into public consciousness as well as political discourse last year was a distinctly anti immigrant sentiment. The refugee crisis was a huge talking point, and many politicians were against letting more than a few refugees in. Indeed, all across the political spectrum politicians were talking about how their economies would not be able to handle an influx of immigrants. This resulted in a lot of human suffering particularly for people that were crossing the Mediterranean since a lot of boats there were being run through unofficial channels. The lack of restrictions and monitoring meant that the people crossing the Mediterranean ended up suffering quite a bit even if they managed to get to Europe alive.
The vetting process for refugees remained quite strict, with humanitarian visas becoming pretty much nonexistent. Another important thing to note is that a lot of families ended up getting broken up because of the fact that refugees were only accepted on an individual basis. The resettlement plan has resettled nearly twenty five thousand refugees with the number set to double in the next two years, but the lack of family reunification makes this process not quite as effective as it would otherwise be at dealing with said humanitarian crisis.
There is also the fact that most EU member states only took a serious interest in the humanitarian crisis if they were not in the direct line of sight for refugees leaving war torn areas. This meant that member states that were not already struck with an influx of refugees did not want to help shoulder the burden, preferring to leave that to coastal nations that had no choice but to deal with the matter at hand.
Not much progress has been made when it comes to asylum laws in the EU, and chances are that not much headway is going to be made anytime soon since so many right wing populists are gaining support in a majority of member states. Only time will tell whether or not the EU has what it takes to take care of people that are fleeing war torn parts of the world. As one of the most powerful political entities in the world, such a thing could be considered its responsibility.