The End of Multiculturalism in Europe? Migrants, Refugees and their Integration

May 24, 2012 // 9:00am3:00pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
Kennan Institute
Urban Sustainability Laboratory
History and Public Policy Program

Europe relies on immigrants to sustain economic growth due to the continent’s shrinking and aging population. Yet migrants are increasingly seen as importing risk: they are seen as competing for jobs with the growing number of unemployed; they are seen as a drain on state budgets which are in many places operating under austerity; they are seen as possible collaborators of global terrorist groups; or as refugees, they are reminders of instability in the neighborhood.

Thus, in spite of the economic need for migrant labor and a tradition of embracing multiculturalism, European electorates and their representatives in government have moved away from the more liberal and inclusive policies of the past. Not only have some European leaders pronounced the “end of multiculturalism,” but some governments have challenged the Schengen agreement, by bringing back border checks in response to the influx of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East.

A number of scholars and institutions have gathered data on public opinion, migrant mapping, and changing demographics in Europe, but there have been few occasions to compare their findings in order to create a rounded picture of the situation. To that end, the speakers on the first panel will present their most recent data and maps in order to offer a clearer picture of the reality. The second panel will look at state policies towards migrants, EU policies and legislation focusing on integration and non-discrimination. The third panel will bring together a panel of experts to discuss the implications of the changing attitudes towards migrants in Europe.

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Program Officer, Immigration and Integration, German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • Mary Giovagnoli // Director
    Immigration Policy Center
  • Head of the Violence and Extremism Programme, DEMOS
  • Senior Advisor, Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Terri Givens // Public Policy Scholar
    Associate professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin.


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Event Sessions: 



9:00—10:15  Welcome and Panel I: Attitudes toward Diversity: An Overview of the Landscape Moderator: Nida Gelazis, Senior Associate, European Studies, Wilson Center

Hamutal Bernstein, Program Officer, Immigration and Integration, German Marshall Fund

A presentation of the GMF’s Transatlantic Trends: Immigration (TTI) survey, which offers the richest data on transatlantic public opinion on immigration issues. Topics to be addressed include: the attitudes and trends on a number of immigration issues (refugees, labor migrants, integration, EU burden-sharing on migration resulting from the Arab Spring, etc.), in Europe and from a transatlantic lens.

Mary Giovagnoli, Director, Immigration Policy Center

A presentation of the MIPEX <<>>, the index produced biannually by the Migration Policy Group of Brussels, with the cooperation of its American partner, the Immigration Policy Center (IPC). The MIPEX compares and analyzes policy measures in seven pertinent integration fields covering Europe, North America and Australia. It provides advocates, policymakers and the media a quantitative tool for discussing changes and trends around legislation that supports or hinders the integration of immigrants.  Mary will discuss cumulative MIPEX results over the last decade and share some of the challenges MIPEX partners encounter in assessing developments.

Jamie Bartlett, Head of the Violence and Extremism Programme, DEMOS, UK

Populist parties and movements are known for their opposition to immigration, their "anti-establishment" views, and their concern for protecting national culture. Their rise in popularity has gone hand-in-hand with the advent of social media, and they are adept at using new technology to amplify their message, recruit, and organize. This will be a presentation of the first quantitative investigation into these digital populists, based on over 10,000 survey responses from 12 countries. It includes data on who they are, what they think and what motivates them to shift from virtual to real-world activism. It also provides new insight into how populism—and politics and political engagement more generally—is changing as a result of social media.

10:15—10:45 Coffee break

10:45—12:00 Panel II: Changes in State Policy: How Has Multiculturalism Been Preserved/Defeated through Law?

Moderator: Ahmet Yukleyen, Fellow, Wilson Center

Harris Mylonas, Academy Scholar, The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and Assistant Professor of Political Science, George Washington University

This presentation will define multiculturalism and evaluate whether multiculturalism policies are in decline across European liberal democracies. I argue that fluctuations in public perceptions about the security and economic consequences of migration—often triggered by global security threats or financial crises—impact the salience of migration issues in the domestic politics agenda and could ultimately move the preferences of the median voter away from multicultural practices.

Rachel Neild Senior Advisor, Open Society Justice Initiative

This presentation will focus on policing of ethnically diverse populations in the EU and ethnic profiling. In some settings, primarily in Spain, migrant populations are policed differently from the general population, as is the manner in which internal migration control is conducted. This has an impact on migrants but also on legal residents and citizens of minority ethnic appearance.

Terri Givens, Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar and Associate Professor of Government, University of Texas-Austin

EU directives related to integration and anti-discrimination have been adopted into the legislation of all member states. However, their interpretation and implementation varies. This presentation will review these differences in an effort to build a better understanding of how the EU directives might constrain (or not) right-wing parties in the EU member states.

12:00—12:45 Lunch

12:45—2:00 Panel III: Roma, Muslim and Migrant Inclusion Policies

Moderator: Andrew Selee, Vice President for Programs, Wilson Center

Jan Dobbernack, Research Assistant, ACCEPT Project

A presentation of the theoretical and comparative aspects of the ACCEPT PLURALISM project, which investigates issues of intolerance, tolerance, acceptance, respect of ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in 16 European countries (15 EU member states and Turkey). Jan will present the comparative findings about attitudes towards Roma and Muslim minority groups, with a particular emphasis on the accommodation of cultural diversity in school life:

Ioana Belu, Managing Director, Asian Cooperation Enterprise

This presentation will focus on the response to implementing Islamic finance in Europe. The growth of the Islamic finance industry has been tremendous, helped by the conventional banking crisis, and the fact that conventional banks are looking at understanding sound Islamic finance principles. Many governments and authorities in Europe are currently adjusting their legislation to Islamic finance in order to allow Sharia compliant transactions.

Ahmet Yukleyen, Wilson Center Fellow and Croft Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Croft Institute for International Studies, University of Mississippi

This presentation examines how European state authorities are taking part in the shaping of Islam in Europe by comparing the impact of German and Dutch state policies on Islamic organizations such as Milli Görüş, a Turkish-origin political Islamic organization. Milli Görüş in the Netherlands has cooperated with Dutch authorities and developed liberal Islamic interpretations, while German authorities list Milli Görüş among the top threats to the Constitution. The difference between German and Dutch Milli Görüş has been created through the partially-exclusivist policies of Germany and the multicultural policies of the Netherlands. This comparison may provide insights for European states on how to develop policies conducive to Muslim incorporation.

2:00—3:00 Panel IV: Roundtable Discussion

Demetrios Papademetriou,  President and Co-Founder, Migration Policy Institute

Jonathan Birdwell, Head of the Citizens Programme, DEMOS UK

Uffe Holst Jensen, Counselor, Home Affairs, EU Delegation to the United States of America

Moderator: Mischa Thompson, PhD, US Helsinki Commission

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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