It’s the main issue at the next European elections. Few remember the major internal migrations within the continent
Fifty percent of voters consider immigration a key issue for the European electoral campaign. According to Eurobarometer, the poll commissioned by the EU parliament, the issue is rated higher than economic growth or youth unemployment (both at 47%). But in 2014, before the previous elections, only 21% considered immigration a priority issue. In the meantime, the so called migrant crisis has taken place with one million people entering Europe in 2015 alone.
Yet migrations are nothing new in Europe. In a book about to be released, Peter Gatrell, a historian at the University of Manchester, analyses the role that migration flows have had in shaping the continent since the last world war.
Gatrell has written six books and is one of the greatest experts on the subject. He is also one of the main contributors to refugeehistory.org, a portal that provides useful insight into refugees throughout history.
His new book The unsettling of Europe recalls historical events that have led to major shifts in population throughout the continent. From the Second World War, which left many people completely stateless, to the independence of the former colonies, that brought former colonial subjects into the European industrial centres, right up to the collapse of the Communist regimes, which caused a wave of relocations into the West. The year 2015 was another stage on this path and Gatrell remembers how the movement of people has always been an integral part of European history.
This article is also published in the March/April issue of eastwest.