The collapse of the Netherlands government last week over immigration policy serves as the latest evidence of Europe’s turn towards far-Right politics, with refugees and asylum-seekers at the centre of a fresh continent-wide debate. The country’s longest-serving prime minister, Mark Rutte, announced his government’s resignation after his push to make it harder for asylum-seeking families to reunite in the Netherlands faced pushback from alliance partners. Mr Rutte, who has said he will retire from politics after the next election in November, cited principles for his decision. But his hard turn to the Right on migration matches a broader political shift in his country. A right-wing farmer’s party is now the largest group in the Dutch upper House. Across Europe, parties and politics that were once considered fringe are gaining mainstream acceptance. In Italy, the ruling Brothers of Italy party, which came to power last year, has roots in the neo-fascist movement. The far-Right is a part of the ruling coalition in Finland and is backing the government in Sweden. The far-Right Vox is rising rapidly in Spain and might soon be in power. In Greece, three ultranationalist parties won parliamentary seats in June. And the hard-Right Alternative for Deutschland has secured major wins in Germany after suffering setbacks in recent years.
Each of these parties and movements is different; yet, they share a common trait. The portrayal of migrants as an economic, social and security threat has been a key factor in the fresh rise and mainstreaming of the far-Right in Europe. But there is an element that cannot be ignored. The loathing of and scepticism at migrants appear to be selective: it is based on the colour of their skin. European nations have rightly opened their arms to millions of Ukrainian refugees since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour in 2022.Mr Rutte's government has had no problem in giving residency to more than 60,000 Ukrainians. The approach is different when it comes to refugees and asylum-seekers from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan or sub-Saharan Africa. Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, has committed support for Ukraine and her country continues to embrace Ukrainian refugees even as she is trying to get Tunisia to stop African refugees from crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Such double standards will only complicate Europe's efforts to manage immigration. They might make for good politics but are no substitute for effective policy.