This summer some 450 undocumented workers and migrants in Brussels refused food during two months. They were protesting Belgian immigration rules that human rights officials and campaigners like Lilana Keith of PICUM say arbitrarily obstruct them from legal and stable residency. The hunger strike provoked an outcry against the Belgian government. Yet there was no intervention from the European Union even though its headquarters is just 10 minutes away from the 17th century church that became the rallying point for supporters of the strikers.
Albert Kraler, assistant professor at our department, says the EU has long been studiously silent about residency rights for the kinds of undocumented workers and migrants who led the Brussels protest. That’s especially the case when regional upheavals like in Afghanistan could mean more irregular arrivals in Europe.