Moving beyond the Crisis

Recommendations for the European Commission’s communication

on migration

The European Commission had – and still has – a significant role to play in how the ‘migration crisis’ narrative came about. In its communications, it tended to highlight two factors: the numbers, and the uncontrolled nature of arrivals. In the past five years, it developed from a rather unstructured use of several words and phrases to a coherent story about the ‘crisis’ as a stand-alone and historically unprecedented phenomenon. In this Discussion Paper, Katharina Bamberg counters that the Commission’s use of the crisis narrative has not been accurate; neither as a fateful description of what was happening nor as a way to address citizens’ concerns. Instead, it served to frame migration as a security issue and legitimised restrictive policy measures, such as ramped-up border controls and increased cooperation with third countries to curb migration. To counter these dynamics, Bamberg argues that the Commission has to abandon the crisis narrative and instead develop a more proactive and diversified communication strategy.

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