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      Addressing Environmental Migration in the European Union Discourse

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            For decades, the European Union (EU) has been addressing issues related to climate change and ecological degradation as a self-proclaimed pro-environmental and human rights-oriented actor. Correspondingly, the topic of environmentally driven migration entered the EU discourse at the dawn of the new millennium. As such, environmental migrants around the world find themselves in an existential crisis and are in need of support whether it comes to questions of compensations, relocation, protection of cultural heritage etc. Thus, considering the EU’s interest in the human rights and environmental/climate issue areas, I argue it is important to ask what the Union’s approach to this matter has been. Consequently, this article assesses the European Union discourse related to the topic of environmental migration over a twenty-year period. Through the theoretical lens of the Copenhagen School of Security Studies and the normative power EU conception, this paper critically analyzes the EU’s securitization of climate change in relation to environmental migrants who are experiencing an existential threat to their lives. Based on a qualitative discourse analysis, the preliminary results imply that the topic has been receding into the background of the EU agenda. In line, environmental migrants have been pushed aside by a multiplicity of other subjects threatened by climate change, and their problems were thus not reflected in either the EU climate change or migration management policies. Overall, the findings show a shift from an alarmist discourse to pragmatism on the EU’s behalf. Thereupon, this article questions the normative standard the EU sets for itself when it comes to the case of environmental migrant protection.


            Author and article information

            UCL Open: Environment Preprint
            UCL Press
            20 April 2023
            [1 ] Comenius University in Bratislava;
            Author notes
            Author information

            This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

            : 20 April 2023

            The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
            Political science
            European Union,Migration,Climate Change,Normative Power,Securitization,Discourse Analysis,People and their environment,Politics of the environment,Climate change


            Date: 10 November 2023

            Handling Editor: Prof Dan Osborn

            Editorial decision: Request revision. The Handling Editor requested revisions; the article has been returned to the authors to make this revision.

            2023-11-14 11:26 UTC

            Date: 26 April 2023

            Handling Editor: Prof Dan Osborn

            This article is a preprint article and has not been peer-reviewed. It is under consideration following submission to UCL Open: Environment for open peer review.

            2023-04-26 14:38 UTC
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