Giles Meritt and Shada Islam (Friends of Europe)
The solidarity of the EU countries has been shaken by several waves of incoming migrants. Moreover, anti-Islam parties are being set up and a negative attitude towards the immigrants prevails in the society. However, it can be precisely these very migrants who might constitute a ‘victory’ for Europe. They can help solve the problems, which the whole ‘Old Continent’ has been faced with for a long time.
The EU average ratio of those actively working to pensioners dropped from 4:1 to 2:1. The newcomers could therefore be a welcome alternative that would greatly increase the workforce. And this is also linked to the social system. Its current situation is such that there is a lack of working age population, and too many people are in the post-productive age. Ultimately, the social system lacks financial resources. To change this situation, it is necessary to increase the number of young workers, which is something that the immigrants can help with.
Another long-term problem facing Europe is the aging of its population. Over the next 20 years, there will be a population decline of such a magnitude that Europe last experienced due to the plague outbreak in the 14th century. For example, German population that counted 82 million in 2015 is set to decline by 6 million by 2030, which is definitely not a negligible number. The newcomers and their children could be the solution to the population decline in Europe.
GDP growth is another of the many positive effects that migration can have. In the Nordic countries, migration is expected to increase GDP by 2.5 percent by 2020. However, one big limitation is the time it takes for a newcomer to integrate in the labor market. Ensuring faster and easier access to employment opportunities for the newcomers is an important task to be accomplished by the EU Member State governments.
The Union’s approach to migration crisis is based on two assumptions: that the influx of migrants is only temporary and that stricter measures will manage to stem this flow. Representatives of the Union are faced with a difficult task. It is vital to stop building the approach to migration crisis based on mere assumptions and replace the latter with facts. Incoming migrants should be perceived as an alternative that can help get the EU out of the tight spot in many areas. The task of the national governments is not only to develop conditions leading to the migrants’ integration, but also convince the public and particularly the media that immigrants can be a ‘victory’ for the ‘Old Continent’.
(The study can be downloaded here:http://www.friendsofeurope.org/future-europe/win-win-solutions-to-europes-refugee-crisis/)