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The EU’s rhetoric on climate mobility: Bridging the New Pact and the Green Deal

13:30, Thursday 11 May 2023 EDT (30 minutes)

This presentation zooms in on the aspects of the European Union’s (EU) rhetoric on climate mobility. Even though the EU has recognized the direct link between climate change and increased migration into the EU (European Commission 2019, 2020), this connection is seldom explicitly addressed in its policies. The European Green Deal strategy, which lays down the principals for Europe to gradually become climate-neutral, was first presented in 2019. The newest proposal package on migration management – the New Pact – was launched in 2020. While their timeframe is similar, these two crucial policy frameworks do not seem to intercommunicate. It has become clear from our ongoing research that climate-induced migration is under-acknowledged in the EU migration documents. Existing research has also shown that the EU’s rhetoric on climate mobility has mostly been intertwined with the security discourse (Trombetta 2014; Butros, Gyberg, and Kaijser 2021). Emphasis on security concerns has been one of the EU’s ways to deal with ‘irregular’ migration. But can this continue whilst migration is increasingly instigated by climate crises for which the EU takes some responsibility, and calls to action?

Climate mobility and migration have recently been the focus of research (see, for example, Boas et al. 2022 for a comprehensive overview). This presentation concretely aims to investigate the rhetoric of and the threshold between the New Pact and the Green Deal policies. By applying critical policy analysis (based on quantitative and qualitative methods), we scrutinize the terminology, lexicon, rhetoric, and semantics of the policies. Officially approved policy terms and definitions have direct impact on policy implementation and its potential issues (Halász and Michel 2011). A careful look at the policy language instigates acknowledging the agency, deliberate choice, and responsibility of policy makers. Thus, we ask:

  • What is the rhetoric of the EU on climate mobility and climate-induced migration? 
  • Reading the New Pact and the Green Deal together (even though they were not intended to be complimentary), what new can we learn about the current EU’s affairs towards climate mobility? 
  • Is there space for improving the New Pact in a way that it addresses the pressing issues of migration due to climate change more extensively?
  • In the arena of the changing climate, how are the references to ‘security’ and ‘responsibility’ (and perhaps some other significant concepts) developed by the EU? Who are the contributors and who are the beneficiaries, who is responsible and who needs to be safeguarded and against whom?

The conference’s focus on the Anthropocene invites us to delve deeper into some of the issues we have been ongoingly addressing in our project. Migration management becomes much more complex when cross-border movement is caused by something that cannot be easily identified as ‘the (concrete) other’ (person/state/group). Many contexts and consequences of the intertwined nexus between nature and human are still underacknowledged. In the context of climate mobility, and human migration in general, it is not possible anymore to treat climate issues and migration separately. By synthesizing the separate EU policy packages, this presentation aims to pinpoint the problematic and the promising aspects of the EU’s migration and climate strategies in connection to climate mobility.

Tampere University
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