Now, according to the EU's two senior foreign policy officials, Europe needs to brace itself for a new wave of migration with a very different cause - global warming. The ravages already being inflicted on parts of the developing world by climate change are engendering a new type of refugee, the "environmental migrant".
Within a decade "there will be millions of environmental migrants, with climate change as one of the major drivers of this phenomenon," predict Javier Solana and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's chief foreign policy coordinator and the European commissioner for external relations. "Europe must expect substantially increased migratory pressure."
The main message is that the immediate and devastating effects of global warming will be felt far away from Europe, with the poor suffering disproportionately in south Asia, the Middle East, central Asia, Africa and Latin America, but that Europe will ultimately bear the consequences.
This could be in the form of mass migration, destabilisation of parts of the world vital to European security, radicalisation of politics and populations, north-south conflict because of the perceived injustice of the causes and effects of global warming, famines caused by arable land loss, wars over water, energy, and other natural resources."
The Guardian, Ian Traynor