By: Wiktoria Kępczyńska

Contemporary Europe, flooded by a wave of economic migrants and political refugees, is changing its face. It is difficult to predict precisely what its future will be in the coming years. But these ‘new’ Europeans will undoubtedly influence the fate of the Old Continent.

The demographic and cultural changes we are witnessing in Europe are a cause for concern for many reasons.

Some newcomers, failing to integrate into their new homeland, expect social benefits from it, which creates discontent among the native inhabitants. Their demands, sometimes combined with voluntary ‘ghettoisation’, in confrontation with the xenophobia of the natives, create social and political divisions, thus contributing to the identity crisis of Europeans.

How to solve these important problems for Europe and how to stop the cracks in the structure of the European Union? Politicians, economists and political scientists dealing with international relations have been working on the answers. What lies ahead for Europe in the coming years, will it save its unity or, finally, will it lose its former prominence among the nations of the world? Much will probably depend on events within its borders as well as in other parts of the globe.

What will be the shape of new Europe, the successor to the Old Continent, and will it find a good place for itself in the new world order that is likely to emerge? – these are questions worth thinking about today, because the stakes are probably not in achieving the status of a world power, but rather in its survival in a healthy condition.

Indeed, the United States, China and India have become global political and economic leaders, while bursting at the seams Europe, although trying to keep up with them, is essentially becoming an observer of events unfolding on the world stage. And these could bring about revolutionary upheavals that will reshape the world. Perhaps it is also time to reflect seriously on the consequences of the ‘clash of civilisations’, since dangers impossible to foresee today may await the whole of humanity in future decades.

What is certain, however, is that Europe different from the one we know is being created today. The only question is whether Europe will manage to preserve the values and traditions accompanying it through the centuries – the  rules which have also been the basis for its development and have contributed to the significance and power of the Old Continent in the international forum.

Over the past few years, many people have fled to Europe from armed conflicts, terror and persecution in their home countries. Some refugees have come from civil war-stricken Syria, many asylum seekers have also arrived in Europe from Venezuela and, more recently, from Afghanistan. In all these countries, civilians are exposed to dangers caused by armed conflicts, human rights violations or persecution.

One of the root causes of the migration crisis is not only the situation in Africa and the Middle East, but also the European Union’s ill-considered migration policy of the last several years. The migratory challenge has exposed the weaknesses of the European asylum system. Reform of the common asylum policy has stalled. The influx of migrants and asylum seekers into Europe has shown that a more effective European asylum and migration policy is needed. Changing procedures, adopting new measures to manage migration efficiently, tighter border controls and creating a better system of collecting and storing information about people entering the EU are all part of the efforts that will help address the migration crisis and stabilise the situation in Europe.