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MAY 2017


Looking Ahead

The first question to ask in

determining the impact of a chang-

ing trans-Atlantic relationship on

the migration crisis is whether

the programs established by the

Obama administration to assist

Europe in addressing the problem

will continue. Such efforts included

pledges at the 2016 Leaders Summit

on Refugees of $50 million for the

Global Crisis Response Platform, as

well as $11 million for the Emerging

Resettlement Country Joint Support

Mechanism—an effort to provide

financial and technical support

to nations trying to establish or

expand their refugee resettlement


In 2015 then-Secretary of State John Kerry established a

working group, composed of representatives from 26 State

Department offices and six federal agencies, to coordinate the

American response to the migration crisis. The working group

operated under three guiding principles: fill gaps in human

assistance on the ground; strengthen cooperation on border

security and migrant vetting; and exchange best practices on

resettlement. According to sources in the Bureau of Population,

Refugees and Migration, the working groups are still standing,

but they are working on an as-needed basis.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget for FY 2018

included a 29-percent reduction for the Department of State.

When asked how the proposed budget would affect U.S. assis-

tance for the migration crisis in Europe, a spokesperson for

PRM was not able to provide information beyond a March 17

memo from Office of Management and Budget Director Mick

Mulvaney, which stated: “Until OMB releases the full FY 2018

budget, all public comments of any sort should be limited to

the information contained in the budget blueprint.”

If Europeans see the U.S. leadership role on migration

fading, will they pick up the slack? When High Representative

Federica Mogherini visited Washington, she was asked this

question directly. She replied that the E.U. “is ready.” Despite

this assertion, it’s hard to know what will happen to coopera-

tion among European countries if they believe Washington has

washed its hands of the refugee crisis.

After the Trump administration announced the details of

the initial executive order halting arrivals, thousands of people

in Europe protested via social media and in demonstrations.

According to an opinion piece

published by the European

Council on Foreign Relations in February, “Europe must not

allow itself to be divided and conquered. … Instead, the E.U.

must speak with one voice to defend international agreements

and basic human rights, including the rights of refugees.”

With national elections coming up in France, Germany and

Italy, political parties expressing anti-immigrant sentiments

are speaking more loudly. (The ruling coalition in the Neth-

erlands held onto power in March elections, but at the price

of tacking sharply to the right on immigration.) Despite the

E.U.’s criticism of the proposed United States travel ban, many

center-right politicians in Europe praised it. This is already hav-

ing a negative impact on the relocation of refugees from Greece

and Italy to other European countries. While their northern

neighbors pledged to relocate 106,000 refugees by September

2017, only 11,000 have actually been moved.

Europe expects that the United States will be less engaged on

the migration crisis going forward. As the E.U. stops looking to

the U.S. for support on the migration crisis, will it also look away

from the United States for cooperation on other trans-Atlantic

issues, such as trade, security and protection of human rights?

During a

March 1 Council on Foreign Relations podcast


ing the state of the U.S.-E.U. relationship, Senior Fellow Charlie

Kupchan stated: “Europe is the anchor of our global policy.”

Time will tell whether this foundation remains strong.


Syrian and Iraqi refugees from Turkey arrive at the island of Lesbos off the coast of Greece in

October 2015.