More than 50 years have passed since the first Congress of Europe and the original optimism of Europe as a post-nationalist construct is being tested now more than ever. In 2017 the continent has been engulfed by a palpable sense of crisis and siege mentalities. The politics of homegrown terrorism and mass migration have polarised society into rigid dichotomies, effectively emboldening hardliners while Europe’s bureaucrats fight to prevent further unravelling of the union. The “tranquil sway” of a United Europe Winston Churchill waxed lyrically about in 1948 has in reality been superseded by an overarching existential question of European identity.
Throughout the first term, we will examine the current challenge that mass migration poses to the continent Thousands of migrants languish in limbo at Europe’s borders as more barriers are erected and legislation passed to protect Fortress Europe. Barbed wire fences and border guards have however proved to be ineffective in stemming the flow of migrants. Yet where officials have struggled to provide long-term solutions, ordinary citizens have stepped to offer assistance; from volunteer-run organisations providing emergency support to app developers connecting refugees to people offering temporary shelter. At the same time, xenophobic sentiment and the number of far-right groups openly evoking a clash of civilisations have surged in equal measure. Civil society, for better or worse, has an important role in the largest migration of people since World War II.
During the second term, our Policy Centre aims to analyse the spectre of terrorism in Europe. Despite the coalition’s success in driving out the last vestiges of the Islamic State, experts have warned of the threat posed by returning fighters and the increase of homegrown radicalised individuals. Recent attacks have confirmed this and in the process raised uncomfortable questions of integration. In response, policymakers have focused their attention on minority community relations and the internet sphere where the radicalisation process allegedly takes place. Critics from the private sector and academia, however, have argued that there exists no silver bullet and that a structural and less intrusive approach is desperately needed alongside applicable policy suggestions.
For the next academic year, the European Affairs Policy Centre will strive to come up with innovative solutions to the continent’s most pressing challenges by drawing upon the expertise of leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as academia. We welcome contributions in the form of policy commentaries and will roll out more opportunities for the King’s student body to be involved within the next few months. If you wish to contribute to our work please do not hesitate to contact us at .
President , European Affairs Policy Centre