Task: 10/2 Write a review about Habermas’ speech and his line of argumentation for why Europe should open its borders and discuss the consequences regarding security, culture, and social integration. (500 words Essay)
In a nutshell, Habermas notices in his speech that the process of European unification has come to a standstill due to a “return of the nation-state”. With rivalling nation-states, rather cultivating an introverted atmosphere by putting national issues on their agendas, the goal of a transnational political integration has become complicated. There is a widespread stance– after having reached the major aims of a single market and peace among Europe’s peoples – that a further integration is neither possible nor necessary.
However, Habermas sharply opposes to this half-hearted attitude by pointing at four major issues, arguing that Europe should open up its borders – otherwise these outstanding issues cannot and will not be solved in the future:
1 A democratic deficit due to a lack of “European public space”
2 A lack of external solidarity (“torn Europe”)
3 An erosion of acceptable social standards
4 A growing fundamentalism challenging cultural pluralism within society
From his point of view, this last aspect presents the most crucial key towards European unity, calling for respect of the “different nature of foreign cultures and religious communities while including them into national civil solidarity”. By “opening up fortress Europe” at first from within (i.e. through the integration of immigrants), European nation-states would finally open up towards each other, creating a European identity.
Taking up this last point, it is true that many European countries dispose of a large share of immigrants (between 0.6% in Slovakia and 38.6% in Luxemburg, BpB 2008) – without having them ever really integrated into society – especially in the case of Germany. Yes, here an opening towards different nationalities and different thoughts/religions and their integration into society is utterly appropriate to maintain a stable society. Another significant argument in favour is Europe’s the future demographic development, which entails an increasing demand of immigrating labour force (Harris, 2003).
But as I see it, Habermas’ line of argumentation is too short-sighted. We cannot simply just open up all borders without considering any possible negative consequences with regard to security, culture, and social integration. There are risks – especially against the background of security issues. Not only has the economy globalized and brought new challenges with it – but so has organized crime in terms of illegal migration, drug trafficking, money laundering and proliferation of weapons. And last but not least are we faced with a new dimension of global non-territorial terrorism (Al Qaeda). Threats have intensified due to blurred boarders, and this must definitely be taken into account when realizing an integrative project like the EU.
In my opinion, single national governments should cooperate and coordinate national activities for finding adequate solutions. Regulated immigration policies and the control of irregular movement might be an answer (Harris, 2003). But this implicates that governments cannot randomly let in every immigrant. They must consider educational standards and personal backgrounds (which can also include culture) for not destabilizing their own societies, which have themselves to cope with all the challenges globalization has brought with it, especially as to the pressure of competition on the labour markets (Lippert 2003, p. 50f.).
Furthermore, even though officially secular, EU-societies hold to a large degree a grown Christian heritage (with the EU being based on its values). Hence, it must be taken into consideration not to provoke xenophobic sentiments (which are mostly based on fear and insecurity, see Harris 2003), as such could heat an already strained atmosphere, thus leading to clashes like we have seen in the Parisian Banlieue 2005. For this reason, social integration must take place very thoughtfully.
But of course, as Habermas’ argues, processes of integration and opening up can happen more appropriately when the EU will act as one entity, thus pooling its resources and becoming capable to act, and in turn to influence society effectively towards more respect and tolerance.