In part in response to these acute stresses and strains on the common European enterprise,
in early January 2016, European Council President Donald Tusk declared that the EU had no
more than 2 months to save its passport-free Schengen Zone and maybe even theunion itself.
A failure to ﬁnd a solution could, Tusk warned, lead to the EU failing as a political project.
Should Tusk’s dire prognostications come to pass, it would not be the ﬁrsttimethata
mass migration catalysed a fundamental reconﬁguration of the international political
landscape. The mass exodus of East Germans to Austria through Czechoslovakia and
Hungary in the summerof 1989, for instance, impelledthe German Democratic Republic
to open its westernborders, leading to the fall of the BerlinWall and the subsequent reuni-
ﬁcation of East andWest Germany.
While the exodusfrom East to West did not happen
in a political vacuum, it was in the end a mass migration, rather thana military invasion,
that destroyed East Germany, sounded the death knell for the Warsaw Pact and
preﬁgured the end of the Cold War and ultimately the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Whether a similar fate could befall the EU is as of this writing an open question. What is
certain, however, is that both recent and proposed EU member state responses to the recent
unregulated inﬂux—including mass detentions and deportations, unilateral border closures
and calls for foreign military action—illustrate anew the potential power of unregulated mi-
gration to make people and governments feel insecure and under threat. British Prime Min-
ister David Cameron invoked insects when he warned of a ‘swarm’of ‘illegal migrants’
while Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declared that, ‘from a
European perspective, the number of potential future immigrants seems limitless, [and
most new arrivals] are not Christians, but Muslims’. Orbán further added that the refugees
entering Europe ‘look like an army’.
For his part, Polish Law and Justice Party ofﬁcial and
former PrimeMinister JaroslawKaczynski warned thatMuslim refugees wouldbring par-
asites and diseases to the local population,
while the leader of the Sweden Democrats
Jimmie Åkesson declared that that ‘Islamism is the Nazism and Communism of our time’.
Against the backdrop of what happened in 1989, these none too novel examples of
inﬂammatory rhetoric, coupled with Tusk’s stark warning about the potential dangers
facing the EU as a political unit, dramatically underscore the inconvenient, and oft
ignored, truth that military assaults are far from the only way to undermine already fragile
political bargains and governance arrangements (or to make citizens feel endangered, afraid
and reactionary). Fears of irregular (mass) migration can also do so, and do so at great po-
tential cost to states’leaders and to the laws, values and human right norms they are (at least
ostensibly) committed to uphold.
‘Tusk gives the EU two months to “save Schengen”’,EuroNews, 19 January2016; available at http://www.
euronews.com/2016/01/19/tusk-gives-the-eu-two-months-to-save-schengen/.; ‘Schengento Fail in Months
if Migration Crisis not “Under Control”, says Tusk’,DW.com, 19 January 2016; available at http://www.
Somewhat ironically, it was German reuniﬁcationand the vibrant German economic engine that allowed the EU
to grow into the world’s largest economy and such an attractive destination inthe decades since reuniﬁcation.
‘David Cameroninsists describingmigrants as a “swarm”Wasn’t“dehumanising”’,The Telegraph, 15 August
2015, available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11804861/David-Cameron-
‘Refugees “look like an army”, says Hungarian PM Viktor Orban’,The Guardian, 23 October 2015, available at
‘Right-wingPolish leader Kaczynski says migrantscarry diseases to Europe’,US Newsand World Report,15
October 2015, available at http://www.usnews.com/news/world/artic les/2015/10/14/right-wing-polish-
‘Anti-immigrant Sweden democrats now the biggestparty, according to poll’,TheTelegraph,20August2015,
available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/sweden/11814498/Anti-immigrant-Sweden-
European Migration CrisisMay 2016
© 2016 John Wiley& Sons Ltd.318