Strategic narratives : exploring the framing of EU policy in crisis : a study of strategic narratives about the European Union and migration policy projected in Hungarian media.
Thesis DisciplineEuropean Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of European Union Studies
In response to recent events such as Brexit, and the outcome of the 2016 US election, the European Union (EU) has worked hard to position itself as a global actor in the international system (Novotná 2017, p. 177). In some cases, the EU has been recognised for its achievements in the areas of human rights, and development (for instance, the EU provided €2 billion or 40% of global aid (Zielonka 2008, p. 478). Yet, the EU has also received its fair share of criticism from those that dispute its legitimacy as an actor, described as a “hobbled giant” whose inability to act in times of crisis has often diminished the accomplishments the EU has made and the 2015 migrant crisis was no exception. Several non- governmental organisations have also noted the European Union’s recent willingness to prioritise security over human rights in the Mediterranean (Moreno-Lax 2018, p. 119), and academics have noted the externalisation of border management in lieu of a legitimate, effective migration policy was labelled a ‘relative failure (Niemann & Zaun 2018, p. 8).
Migration into, and within, Europe is regulated by a combination of national law, EU law, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and by other international obligations entered into by European states such as the 1951 Geneva Convention. As thousands of migrants made the pilgrimage to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea through Southern Europe, the EU’s institutions aided Greece and Italy who could not adequately support thousands of new daily arrivals. Member states such as Hungary campaigned for a European solution to the crisis and asked for assistance for states in the Western Balkans.
Throughout 2015, Member states could not reach consensus on the best way to support those states shouldering the burden of the influx of migrants, the Hungarian government decided it would seal the Hungarian-Serbian border. The Hungarian government frequently criticised the European Union, claiming the EU had failed to find an appropriate solution to the crisis and that the EU should now respect the sovereignty of Hungary as its people must be protected. These narratives have since become stronger in language as Hungary continues to implement various border management and legislative tools to restrict the eligibility for assistance migrants can receive. The Hungarian government cited the protection of the Hungarian people as justification for these extreme measures.
This research shall explore and compare narratives concerning Hungary and the European Union projected during the during the summers of a) 2015; and b) 2018; by the Hungarian English-language media press about EU migration policy in the context of the migrant crisis. After the analysis of these narratives, this research will also examine the way Hungarian narratives on migration policy may impact the relationship between the EU and Hungary in the future. Narratives are important because the EU as a normative actor (Manners 2002, p. 238) utilises strategic narratives to inform both domestic and international audiences about their actions and perceptions of the international system (Roselle, Miskimmon & O'Loughlin 2014, p. 75). These narratives aid in shaping the perceptions of other actors to believe your versions of events to advance your interests and policy outcomes and where you intend to go in the future.