We love a good Europe-focused debate here at Debating Europe. It’s in the name. So we often partner with European debating societies teaching young people the skills used in public debates.
On Tuesday 22 September, we partnered with IDEA, the Solvay Debate Society and the Brussels Debaters to host a “Speak Up!” debate at the ULB Campus in Brussels on the question of: “Is it Europe’s duty to accept all refugees?”
The team in favour of the motion argued that Europe had a historic duty to accept refugees, and that this should be seen in the context of what neighbouring countries are already doing:
Why is it Europe’s duty? It’s important to mention that neighbouring countries have already done their part of the job. Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan have already taken over 4.5 million refugees, representing over 95% of the total number of refugees. The amount of refugees coming to Europe represent between 250’000 to 500’000, which is a drop in the ocean of the over 500 million inhabitants of Europe.
Let’s not forget Europe’s role in the Middle East. During the last centuries, we helped write the entire history of both the Middle East and North Africa. We messed up a lot of things, and we can’t now just leave and say: ‘It’s your mess. You deal with it.’ We made this mess, so we have to clean it up.
Meanwhile, the opposition focused their argument on rejecting the idea that Europe has a duty to accept all refugees. They agreed that Europe should take some refugees, but argued that the Gulf States – such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia – should shoulder more of the blame for the current crisis:
It is not Europe’s duty to accept ALL refugees. Europe’s role in accepting refugees should be proportionate, should be sustainable, should be in line with the interest and the rights of the domestic population of Europe as well as the refugees…
Of course Europe should do what it can do, but Europe is not capable of doing everything.
See if the debaters can convince you in the video below:
The debate also involved interventions from several experts, giving their opinions on the arguments put forward by the two sides. See what they have to say in the video below:
Does Europe have a moral duty to accept all refugees? Does Europe share historic responsibility for the current violence in North Africa and the Middle East because of our colonial legacy? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions.