Research & Publications



Jasmine Khin, Researcher, EU Centre

The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the EU Centre in Singapore.

A printable version of the commentary is available HERE.

The discourse on multiculturalism range from debates in political philosophy on what multiculturalism is and should be in theory to public debates by politicians and lawmakers on how to carry out multicultural policies. This background brief will make clear both the academic and political debates on multiculturalism, particularly as it pertains to the European Union. Unlike other western countries like the USA, Canada, and Australia, European nations only began to accept cultural diversity as a fact in the late 20th Century. This was preceded by postwar immigration and country-specific strategies taken to integrate the incoming foreigners. Hence, in discussing multiculturalism in Europe, this background brief focuses on multicultural policies as they are related to the integration of immigrants who came during the postwar migration wave. The measures taken by European countries to integrate immigrants are also pertinent to understanding current populist reactions and public discussions on the failure of multiculturalism. Since the 2015 migrant crisis, fault lines have been opened up in Brussels on how to handle the migration crisis and refugee settlement. The influx of asylum seekers has also been met with polarizing politics and the rise of identity and security concerns in various countries. This brief is a look at the narrative of multiculturalism in Europe and how it intersects with policies on migration and integration.