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Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NoVaMigra (Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-03-31

NOVAMIGRA – Norms and Values in the European Migration and Refugee Crisis responds to the topic CULT-COOP-12-2017: The significance of cultural and core values for the migration challenge. In the corresponding call the central question was how migration, in particular the refugee challenge, and the response to it have impacted core values in the EU and how these values will affect the integration of refugees and migrants into European societies. NOVAMIGRA set itself three main objectives to respond to the call’s central question:
-Providing a precise and comprehensive understanding of core values/norms in Europe, their current transformation and possible evolution.
-Explaining the way values/norms motivate or affect relevant political, administrative and societal agents with regard to migration and the integration of migrants and refugees into European societies, and studying, if, how, and why this has changed with the refugee crisis since 2015.
-Developing a rights‐based democratic perspective for the EU and its member states, which (a) takes into account differences in European values/norms that became visible in the refugee crisis, and the possible evolution of values, but (b) also reflects Europe’s global responsibility.
NOVAMIGRA has almost completed its first work package, WP1: European Integration and European Values, dedicated to the framing and mapping of applicable European values. For the purpose of defining values and setting them apart from other normative concepts, NOVAMIGRA set out by developing a conceptual map specifying the “value‐related grammar” of values, norms, rights, moral principles and other crucial concepts. An annotated bibliography accompanied the conceptual map and facilitated – both within the project, but also for the broader academic and non-academic audience – access to key research literature on the concepts of values, norms, rights etc. and their relationships with a particular focus on the specificities of values in the EU system. The conceptual map and bibliography made explicit that values and rights/norms follow different conceptual logics and specified the ways in which they may and may not be compatible with one another. As NOVAMIGRA’s Report on the normative content, genesis, historical background, and implementation of the EU Charter shows, this has direct implications for how to understand the EU’s founding documents. The Report on the EU Charter offers a philosophical and legal analysis of how the core values referenced in the Charter – dignity, freedoms, equality and solidarity – have been conceived of and implemented in European law.

With the conceptual framework for and the normative reconstruction of European values completed, the first part of NOVAMIGRA’S first objective has been achieved: NOVAMIGRA has provided a precise and comprehensive understanding of core values/norms in the European community acquis. On this basis, the project currently analyses if these values were affected and transformed during the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015 or since then and how they might develop in the future.

WP2: Values in European Migration and Refugee Policy and WP3: Value Agents and their Practices in Civil Society are in the process of analysing if and how the core norms and values of the European community acquis translate into the self-understanding of actors in politics, administration and civil society. Research in WP2 has focused on values in the negotiation of EU migration policy in the relevant bodies on the European level and started to assess the impact of populism and discourses on immigration society in the member states on EU policy. One preliminary finding has been that, while the impact of populist pressures on EU migration policy has been significant, the EU charter’s values have played no important role in recent migration policy-making.

In WP3, comparative discourse analyses and qualitative studies on value agents in different member states have shown that the European values included in the EU Charter serve as reference points mostly in state integration programs. For civil societal and lower level political agents (such as cities), however, other, often local values or values relating to everyday life and interaction are more important – both in what the agents expect from migrants and in their own motivations. One can, thus, state that the values or norms motivating or affecting relevant political, administrative and societal agents differ and also observe that changes in values and norms since 2015 have often occurred not as a revision or even denial of the core European values, but more as an adaptation of relevant values to specific challenges in the migration and integration contexts.
In providing a clear philosophical understanding of values and other central normative notions and relating it to the EU community acquis and EU migration policy, NOVAMIGRA has gone, in its first project year already, beyond the “state‐of‐the‐art” in research on European values and their role in migration and integration contexts. NOVAMIGRA provides a major contribution to the European knowledge base on politically and socially relevant values, and their impact on and transformation in migration and integration contexts. In its second project phase, NOVAMIGRA will fully achieve its first two objectives and particularly focus on the third objective: the development of a new European idea(l). On the basis of (a) its conceptually clear and systematic reconstruction of the European values enshrined in the EU’s legal documents and (b) its empirical insights into the values and norms informing migration policy and motivating relevant agents, NOVAMIGRA opens new perspectives on the reality of European values in pluralist societies, and on the relevant driving forces for Europe’s future. The implementation of values and norms in law and politics is too narrow for a complete vision of European values – especially in the field of migration and integration – and it misses the gaps and tensions both between different values themselves and between value agents’ practices on the ground and officially declared policies. NOVAMIGRA ‘s approach, combining conceptual and normative reflection on the meaning and scope of cosmopolitanism (which has already been started within WP4: A Cosmopolitan Perspective for Europe) with the empirical research on policy‐making and societal agents in the field of migration and refugee protection, will allow to design the future for a realistic European type of cosmopolitanism.
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