Open Borders, Closed Minds

The European Union is currently divided between a very large majority and a very small minority on the topic of open borders. Many believe that there should be open internal borders and closed external borders across the EU, while others believe it should be the choice of the nation whether their borders were closed or open. There was also a major development in which France and Germany wanted to leave the EU in a similar way as Britain, and a terrorist attack resulting from the conflict over this issue.

A block containing the majority of the delegations in the EU is currently taking leadership. While it does contain some smaller countries such as Lithuania and Luxemburg, there are also some larger, extremely influential powers involved such as Sweden, Spain, Germany, and Ireland. They collectively agree with the implementation of internal open borders and external closed borders across the entirety of the European Union. This position is largely based, they said, on Angela Merkel’s position on the subject in 2014, which involves technology advancements, intelligence sharing, and EU legislation so as to prevent things like xenophobia.

The mentioning of xenophobia begged the question of the block’s position on Brexit, to which they responded  with a collective thumbs down (literally). In further explanation, they spoke of the connection between Brexit and xenophobia and their goal to combat xenophobia in all of the EU. When discussing this, another country came up that has been found to want to leave the EU- France. Frexit was regarded by most as extremely similar if not the same thing as Brexit and should be treated as such. Britain and France have apparently been trying to implement a more nationalistic approach to the border issue, which has met opposition by the majority of the committee. They expressed resentment for these countries for wanting to betray the EU and firmly stated that these nations should not have a say in how the committee runs.

Another revelation specific to this committee was the possibility of Germany leaving the EU, leaving the delegation of Belgium in a very uncomfortable position. They are now in the “vigorous position” as they put it, of being the moderator between Germany and the EU.

To complicate matters more, there was a terrorist attack on a train traveling from Germany to France. This has been identified as domestic terrorism and the casualty rate is unknown. This sparked an immediate act to combat domestic terrorism in the EU and in surrounding nations because now the safety of their people is at stake over this divisive issue

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Does the UK have a say in the EU after Brexit?

Thundering noises, cacophonous sounds, and overlapping talks echoed through the hall on the Fifth Floor of the Sheraton Boston Hotel and pulled me into Room Arboretum, the home of the European Union committee. In the midst of a unmoderated caucus, the E.U. is divided into three various blocs, all discussing the issues of open border policies and the appropriation of refugee intake. Selena Zhao, the assistant director of the European Union, explains the two types of popular arguments in the room: a nationalist approach versus the redistribution of refugees within member nations of the European Union. According to Ms. Zhao, the committee has gone through a discussion about differentiating refugees versus the economic migrants an hour ago. “Delegates have to make a decision in deciding the differences,” she argues. The importance of defining refugees and migrants is echoed in my short conversation with the delegation of United Kingdom, who claims there is a significant difference between both refugees and merchants. He also stresses the importance of accepting refugees’ needs and the necessity to consider the centralization of the European Union.

“Delegates, please return to your seats,”shouts the Chair of the European Union as time has exhausted in the unmoderated caucus. Expecting a formal debate about the issue of opening borders and taking in refugees, I am shocked when the delegation of Germany shifts the focus of the debate by proposing a motion of “a 12 minute, 45 second moderated caucus regarding Brexit.” The double delegation of United Kingdom quickly exchange a look and frowns. They do not look happy about Germany’s proposal.

Germany’s motion passes with a majority and opens the debate on United Kingdom’s jurisdiction to propose a working paper. As the first speaker, the delegation of Germany believes UK has no right to speak on the issue of refugees, claiming “when U.K. leaves the E.U., it does not have to deal with the solutions it comes up with.” In accordance with Germany, the delegation of Ireland claims it is unreasonable for the U.K. to write policies when they “don’t have to worry about taking in refugees,” representing the many suspicions members of the E.U. have for United Kingdom and its authority on establishing legislations.

As the main focus in this moderated caucus, the delegation of United Kingdom gets up, gives a dramatic pause, and says, “the delegation is very bewildered by this situation.” Clarifying that U.K is still a part of the E.U., he asserts that foreign countries have no right to interfere with U.K.’s domestic issues and highlights the fact that United Kingdom has accepted 20,000 refugees, a number higher than many other member nations in the European Union. The delegation of Greece disapproves by emphasizing on the fact that United Kingdom only takes 20,000 refugees out of the millions in the Mid-East while Germany has accepted more than 1 million refugees, proving U.K.’s legislation inapplicable to the European Union. While countries such as Greece, Sweden, Malta, and France are left unconvinced by the speech, the delegation of Hungary and Denmark strongly support U.K. by claiming its”past experiences in the European Union would be a great asset to creating a credible solution to the problem.”

The dividing insights on Brexit and its implications on United Kingdom’s role in the European Union is clear. With heated speeches given from both sides of the issue and occasional laughs at delegates’ rebuttal of each other, delegates are trapped in a deadlock regarding Brexit before they could proceed to discuss open border policies.

Grass Is Greener on the Other Side

In light of recent terrorist acts, the European Union has begun making decisions on open border policies and free travel within member countries. Policy makers are hesitant in their decisions and proposals, some unsure of the line between security and xenophobia. While delegates grapple between these ideological conflicts, many assert refugees need help on the other side.

“We are discussing open borders and their future inside the European Union, especially facing the recent crisis of the rise of terrorism and the migrant crisis flowing into the Union and causing a recent rise in nationalist and xenophobic settlement.” a delegate from the United Kingdom explained. “As a country whose population decided to leave the E.U. because of a fear of massive migration,” he continued “…we really want to underline the need for national sovereignty and independence regarding borders. The E.U. should principally be an economic union and anything that relates to migratory policies should be dealt with by the individual nations themselves. However we also believe the E.U. should incite a more collaborative approach to fighting terrorism with the expansion of information programs and information sharing as well as developing and strengthening the E.U. coastguard.”

A German delegate, who fervently spoke on the podium about the need to evaluate the immediate threat against refugees and ensure their safety added that “…we are specifically focusing on the security solutions for refugees and assuring that nationalism is under control. We are working with a lot of other nations to take their policies and their countries and put them into a solution. The term ‘blacklist’ was used to describe whether we can or cannot take refugees; we’re trying to use the term evaluation to assure that we’re getting the refugees that need the most care and the most immediate care and then take other people in a time of crisis.”

While the debates in the European Union continue, refugees will continue to flow into the continent from war zones like Syria and Somalia. Though the issue of border security remains, the German delegate reminded us that “…accepting all people is human fulfillment,” and this discussion and waiting period has a cost.

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Welcome to HMUN 2017!

The Press Corps Staff welcomes you to HMUN 2017.