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From money to people: the ‘refugee crisis‘

Watch Prof. Christa Tobler introduce the issue of migration and the present 'refugee crisis'.
Welcome to the third week of our course on ‘Switzerland in Europe Money, Migration, and Other Difficult Matters’! In our first week, which focused on money, we concluded that Switzerland, located in the heart of Western Europe and not part of either the EU or the EEA, is not an island, in spite of appearances if one looks at the legal map of Europe. In our third week, we will see that the same applies in a different context, namely that of migration. As you know, in the recent past, one particular type of migration has been high on the political agenda, namely that of persons coming from war-torn or otherwise difficult countries, and seeking international protection or asylum.
Indeed, there is much discussion of the so-called refugee crisis in Europe. And some even fear that this crisis might overwhelm Europe and tear the EU apart. It is against this background that, in this course week, we will look into the legal framework for migration in Europe. In doing so, we will, of course, also pay attention to the place of Switzerland in this context. As a preliminary point on Switzerland, we should note that this is a country with a particularly strict immigration regime, at least for so far, as it does not concern economic migration from the EU and the EEA. This was not always the case.
During the first 60 years after the foundation of the modern Swiss state in 1848, there were almost no legal limits for foreigners with regard to temporary residence, permanent settlement, or economic activity, and a liberal naturalisation regime was in place. Limiting rules followed only in the time of World War I. In this context, it is interesting to note anthropologic research according to which legal limits to migration are closely linked with the development of the modern nation state, and more specifically, the development of a common national identity. Anthropologists have found that such a development leads to the exclusion of others.
If you’re interested in this aspect and its results with respect to perceptions of ethnic diversity in Switzerland, we suggest a brief text by Janine Dahinden of the University of Neuchâtel for further reading. For this course week, we will take the so-called refugee crisis in Europe as a starting point for our reflections and discussions. In this context, we would like to invite you to find out some facts. Here is our task for you. Find out through internet research about the reasons for, and the magnitude of, the influx into Europe of persons seeking international protection in recent years. Is the present refugee crisis different from earlier large waves, for example, after World War II, the Vietnam War, or the Balkan Wars?
And if so, in how far? In the context of the reasons for migration, what is meant by push and pull factors? The website of the International Organisation for Migration, IOM, might be a good starting point for your research. The IOM describes itself as the leading intergovernmental organisation in the field of migration. It has 172 Member States, a further eight states holding observer status, and offices in over 100 countries. IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants.

The present ‘refugee crisis‘ poses a challenge to Europe.

The third course week turns from ‘money‘ to ‘migration‘. Today, Switzerland is a country with a particularly strict immigration regime for so far as it does not concern economic migration from the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). Like other countries in Europe, Switzerland experiences the influx of migrants from war-torn or other otherwise problematic countries. In Europe, there is much discussion of the so-called ‘refugee crisis‘ and about the usefulness of common rules in this respect.

This step serves as an introduction into the topic whilst we will discuss the question in the following step.

You may also wish to read the articles under ‘see also’ for further information.

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Switzerland in Europe: Money, Migration and Other Difficult Matters

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