No. 84 – July 2016
Authors: Giuliano Luongo, Shogo Kudo
The massive flows of migrants and refugees to Europe started during the Arab Springs prompted European countries to develop new strategies to deal with them. The ongoing Syrian conflict and the rise of IS have further complicated the picture, deepening security issues and underlining the ill preparedness of the EU in managing challenges coming from the economic, political and social sphere. Early works on the impact of refugees focused mainly on their economic impact of hosting countries, outlining a negligible to positive effect on host economic systems. However, social impact and the influence of social factors on the economic dynamics need to be explored fully. Additionally, research on sustainable development focused more on the condition of people within specific countries or regions, yet not much on migrants and refugees. In this paper, we apply the vulnerability concept to understand how Europe – as a socio-economic system or entity – can react to the external shock caused by the refugee and migrant flows. Those migrants and refugees are also identifiable as a socio-economic entity by themselves. Our objective is to work on this complex perspective, in order to produce qualitative research including demands and experiences of both entities, being involved not only numerable factors. On this track, the central questions that our research tries to answer are (i) which are the main non-economic, non-numerable factors making Europe more vulnerable to the refugee challenge under the socio-economic profile? and (ii) how can we measure EU countries’ vulnerability to this challenge on the basis of earlier vulnerability assessment methods? The approach, starting earlier studies on vulnerability assessment (see, among others, Freyssinet, 2009), include, next to the monitoring of economic indicators, the identification of critical social factors as: insecurity perception; integration difficulties; rent-seeking behavior from economic and political actors both at national and international level. In order to offer a more comprehensive approach, this study will try to identify indicators for both short- and long-term effects of refugee flows, not limiting observations from the European point of view. We will conclude that the vulnerability of both single countries and the EU as a whole under the socio-economic profile is augmented due to the effect of non-economic elements influencing labor markets etc., igniting a “chain effect” having negative externalities on different aspects of the social and of the economic domain.