While the geopolitics of the Ukraine crisis have dominated headlines, little attention has been paid to the potential challenges arising from the movement of people from the region to the EU. Yet recent history should tell us this could be a grave oversight. As we witnessed during the Arab Spring in 2011, political upheaval can result in people fleeing their state in fear of persecution or seeking to leave their state in search of new horizons and economic opportunities. The EU would do well to learn from that experience and the policy failures that resulted from the Union’s response of closing its borders and returning people to Africa. This Commentary argues that it is critical that – independently of the still uncertain outcome of the Ukraine crisis – the EU formulates and implements a credible policy strategy addressing the potential impact and benefits of mobility between Ukraine and the EU.
Elspeth Guild is Jean Monnet Professor ad personam, Radboud University and Queen Mary London, and Associate Senior Research Fellow, CEPS. Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs research programme at CEPS. Joanna Parkin is a Research Fellow, Justice and Home Affairs section, CEPS.