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Table of contents :
Cover page
Halftitle page
Title page
Copyright page
1 Exploding Migration’s Ten Most Misleading Myths
Myth 1: Europe has no need of migrants
Myth 2: Migrants ‘take jobs’ from native Europeans
Myth 3: Migrants raise the risk of jihadist terrorism
Myth 4: Migrants come to ‘sponge’ off Europeans’ social welfare
Myth 5: Migrants are a huge burden on Europe’s taxpayers
Myth 6: Europe is so overcrowded there’s no room for migrants
Myth 7: Migrants are ‘overwhelming whole cities’
Myth 8: Cheaper migrant labour depresses wage levels
Myth 9: Europe can’t afford the cost of more migrants
Myth 10: Robots will make migrant labour unnecessary
Misunderstandings and muddled official thinking
2 Like Covid-19, Migration is a Global Earthquake
Migration’s longer-term challenges
The full impact of Europe’s demographic deficit is yet to come
The elusive goal of ‘managing’ migration
Sorting refugees from economic migrants
The ebb and flow of a world in flux
Making sense of youth unemployment
On the threshold of radical change
3 More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case
The economic evidence is unambiguous
Shrinking workforces mean shrinking economies
Manpower shortages are far from just a British ailment
Without migrants, who will pay for pensions?
Where does Europe go from here?
4 Making ‘True Europeans’ of the Migrant Millions
How should ‘integration’ be defi ned?
The scale of the integration challenge
Concentration or dispersal? The relocation dilemma
Integration is less about ‘where’, more about ‘how’
Is it the economy, stupid? No, it’s education
How the private sector can help
5 From Covid-19 to Ageing: Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors
Fortress Europe? Good luck with that!
Europe must make good use of its breathing space
The incalculable costs of more migrants and more pensioners
The unresolved issues no one wants to address
6 Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges
African emigration is in only temporary abeyance
Africa’s infrastructure nightmare
Educating Africans for skilled jobs
China’s ‘Scramble for Africa’
What should EU investors and aid donors be doing?
Prioritizing Africa’s backward agriculture
7 Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates
The lower end of the socio-economic spectrum
Sorting criminal migrants from jihadist terrorists
How real is the jihadist threat?
Looking ahead: The migrants of tomorrow
8 More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19 Labour Markets?
The Robot Revolution versus migrant workers’ cheaper labour
Robotization’s upside will be new jobs
Can immigration resolve Europe’s labour shortages?
Improved productivity is one answer to Europe’s ageing
The winners and losers in the Digital Age
On education, spend more to win more
Making sense of the ‘gig economy’
Are trades unions ‘pro-migrant’?
9 Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage
Europe’s fragmented national migration policies
How Dublin became a dirty word
Breaching the walls of ‘Fortress Europe’
The faltering drive to encourage legal migration
Looking ahead for new ideas
The EU’s latest ‘last ditch’ migration defence plan
10 Design for a Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy
2020–2025 Immediate Measures
2025–2035 Intermediate Measures
2035–2050 Strategies for mid-century
Further Reading
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People Power Why We Need More Migrants



People Power Why We Need More Migrants Giles Merritt


I.B. TAURIS Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK 1385 Broadway, New York, NY 10018, USA 29 Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2, Ireland BLOOMSBURY, I.B. TAURIS and the I.B. Tauris logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2021 Copyright © Giles Merritt, 2021 Giles Merritt has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc does not have any control over, or responsibility for, any third-party websites referred to or in this book. All internet addresses given in this book were correct at the time of going to press. The author and publisher regret any inconvenience caused if addresses have changed or sites have ceased to exist, but can accept no responsibility for any such changes. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN: HB: PB: ePDF: eBook:

978-0-7556-0653-5 978-0-7556-0654-2 978-0-7556-0655-9 978-0-7556-0656-6

Typeset by RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk To find out more about our authors and books visit and sign up for our newsletters


For my wife Brigid Grauman whose book Uncle Otto’s Puppet Theatre tells the story of her own family of migrants



Contents Preface 1 2 3 4 5

Exploding Migration’s Ten Most Misleading Myths Like Covid-19, Migration is a Global Earthquake More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case Making ‘True Europeans’ of the Migrant Millions From Covid-19 to Ageing: Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors 6 Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges 7 Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates 8 More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19 Labour Markets? 9 Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage 10 Design for a Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy Notes Further Reading Index

viii 1 25 49 69 91 109 131 149 169 191 215 223 225


Preface No one can yet say how the world’s refugees and economic migrants will fare in the aftermath of Covid-19, but the signs are that Europe’s migrant crisis of 2015–16 will have been the precursor of far greater immigration pressures. The irresistible force of more would-be migrants from countries that have been economically devastated by the coronavirus is colliding with a hardening refusal to admit them. Our initial ignorance about how to recognize and handle the coronavirus pandemic was forgivable. Much less so is the ignorance of governments and policymakers about migration, and their continued failure to ensure that handling migration becomes a prominent feature of their post-coronavirus strategies. This book tries to define in accessible terms the broad issues surrounding migration, and the policies needed to confront them. It does so against the volatile backdrop of economic difficulties so severe that they may become comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Just as the coronavirus was gathering momentum in early 2020, I was putting what I expected would be the finishing touches to this book. I had begun this Preface with a confession that much, perhaps most, of what I initially thought I knew about migration turned out to be wrong. That admission still stands. Before researching this book, I had thought that governments could influence and perhaps control immigration, that they were sufficiently organized to study and assess its main features – the pros and cons of ‘new blood’ – and that their long-term strategic plans included migration. As a journalist turned think tanker, I should have known that this touching faith in the far-sightedness of political leaders was misplaced. What I couldn’t know was that often they weren’t even aware of significant developments taking place under their very noses. This book is intended as a warning against the deepening divisions over migration. It is also an alarm call, or more accurately a hi-fi sound viii



system relaying and amplifying the warnings of experts. Cogent and well researched though they often are, these have largely fallen on deaf ears. In pre-coronavirus Britain and across Europe, policymakers either hadn’t heard the warnings or ignored them, and continue to do so. I have six grandchildren, ranging in age from four to twenty, and this book is almost as much about them and the problems they’ll face as it is about migrants. Even before the coronavirus struck, my grandchildren faced a world that’s certain to be far tougher than the privileged postwar one in which I grew up, where buoyant economic growth offered opportunity and rising living standards to so many Europeans. Covid-19 doesn’t change the basics of migration, but it exacerbates the difficulties. The pandemic highlights the two sides to the migration coin; the ‘pull’ of ageing Europe’s need for more young people, and the ‘push’ of job-seekers in African and Arab countries wanting to escape poverty, threats of conflict and chronic exposure to viral disease. Not deliberately but carelessly, society in Western Europe has been content to hand down a flawed and profoundly troubling demographic legacy to future generations. Disastrously low birth rates were viewed with equanimity throughout most of post-Second World War Europe. Although there were incentives for larger families in France, few other European countries were as far-sighted. The upshot has been a tailing-off of the active workforce, which partly explains why unemployment was easing before Covid-19 struck. It’s hard to say so when dole queues are lengthening, but in structural terms the European economy is still doomed to suffer from labour shortages. There won’t be enough young Europeans entering the jobs market, and however rapidly we recover from coronavirus, manpower shortages are likely to spell long-term economic stagnation and lower living standards. There are other poisoned legacies that could have been avoided. Overheated property markets reflect policies that encourage private investment in housing rather than in business and industry. In the UK, and in varying degrees elsewhere in Europe, home ownership has become an impossible dream for many younger people.



The cards stacked against younger Europeans include inadequate education and training at a time when the digital revolution is beginning to re-landscape labour markets. The greatest burden of all is that younger generations of Europeans must pay for growing numbers of pensioners. This is where migration comes fully into the picture. Although accepting more workers from outside Europe offers solutions to our immediate problems, it also risks compounding the challenges that await future generations. More migrants can help to regenerate our workforces and buttress dwindling tax revenues, but they may also fuel political unrest. People’s sense of ‘self ’ is threatened by the unfamiliar and foreign. Different clothes, languages, religions and customs in communities that have undergone little cultural change over the centuries have provoked hostile reactions in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. These are not necessarily right-wing responses, but perhaps conservative with a small ‘c’. Immigrant newcomers also have a greater impact on more modest socio-economic communities than on more prosperous sections of society, thus creating a sense that privileged elites are more liberal and open-minded. The truth is that competition for housing, healthcare and children’s education is more intense in communities that have been suffering from austerity policies and budget cuts in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis, and this has fuelled native Europeans’ resentment of migrants. I carefully exclude employment from this list because one of the myths I set out to demolish in Chapter 1 is that migrants ‘steal’ jobs. Anti-immigration sentiments are nevertheless wholly understandable. That doesn’t make them a sound basis for blocking migration, but rather the basis for constructing effective new policies, which is the leitmotif of this book. So far, hostility to migrants has brought populist politicians to prominence in most European countries, and to power in some of them. But the populists have all failed to devise far-sighted and progressive measures that could resolve the growing tensions over migration. Instead, they have deliberately inflamed them.



A big part of the migration problem is that we, as society, know very little about migrants, and that is equally true of Europe’s politicians and policymakers. After four decades in Brussels as a reporter, observer and commentator on European politics, I would have to admit that we who have been involved in EU policy debates know little if anything of the pressures that push people to emigrate, or the lives they are likely to lead when they arrive amongst us. Much of this ignorance boils down to a failure of politics, at EU, national and regional levels. That’s scarcely surprising because migration is a slow-burning problem that has been eclipsed by a steady flow of major crises. My time in Brussels has seen a roller-coaster of events that re-landscaped Europe’s politics and saw the fortunes of the EU’s project of ever-closer union rise and fall with dizzying speed. The collapse of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago and of communism promoted a sense of unity that now looks increasingly fragile. With hindsight, the overarching characteristic of those years has been Europe’s propensity for navel-gazing. This has led it to neglect its African and Arab neighbours, and helped to create the migration pressures that face us. Could our responses to the coronavirus alter this gloomy prognosis? Optimists hope that its shock effects will spark a reform drive that reinvigorates the EU. Pessimists predict that seven decades of slow but certain integration will evaporate under the pressures of nationalism. If there’s any consensus, it is that the coronavirus will kill or cure. The final chapter of this book sets out policy ideas for turning migration into a force for good. Some of these consist of removing barriers and petty restrictions – for instance, red tape that prevents migrants from opening a bank account. Others would mean overturning deeply entrenched international agreements, such as the rigid distinction between asylum-seeking refugees and economic migrants. Some of these ideas are just common sense, while others may seem over-ambitious. The one thing they do have in common is that they would need to be implemented Europe-wide. The notion that each country can decide its own immigration policy was revealed as absurd by the 2015–16 migrant crisis.



Geography, together with the freedom of movement that despite Covid-19 remains central to the European single market, means that only a common EU migration policy can be effective. That is no doubt why more than four-fifths of people polled for Eurobarometer two years before the coronavirus crisis said the free movement of people must not be prevented, with almost seven-tenths favouring a single EU migration policy. The challenge for the European Union is to transform migration from a highly emotional issue that could eventually destroy it from within into a new economic dynamic. Rising political headwinds are reinforcing long-standing prejudices and strengthening people’s fears of being swamped culturally by the newcomers. Populist parties, usually on the far-right of the political spectrum, have sprung up across Europe to exploit these concerns. Their blanket Euroscepticism is as nonsensical as their bunker mentality on migration. The EU’s institutions are overdue for reform, but that doesn’t make them redundant. Far from it; in a globalized world heading for a population of ten billion, Europeans have no choice but to stick more closely together. Proponents of a more progressive mindset on migration have so far made a poor job of communicating their ideas. This book sets out to highlight these arguments without understating the difficulties involved. Giles Merritt Brussels, November 2020


Exploding Migration’s Ten Most Misleading Myths

The worldwide political and economic costs of Covid-19 threaten to be catastrophic. In Europe, they may turn the uncomfortable tensions around immigration into a full-blown mega-crisis. It’s tough to persuade policymakers of the need for new manpower when dole queues are lengthening. So the first step is to challenge and demolish the myths that have long distorted perceptions of migrants and their value to society. When the coronavirus began to spread like wildfire, an inescapable truth impressed itself on public opinion; it is that so many of the doctors, nurses and ancillary healthcare workers ‘on the frontline’ are migrants or the children of migrants. TV coverage of their roles battling against Covid-19 did much to dispel long-held prejudices and hostility towards migrants. Attitudes to migration are complex, unpredictable and, in political terms, worryingly unreliable. In the UK, the voters who supported Brexit had reflected the country’s increasingly anti-immigration mood. Anti-migrant sentiments have also fuelled the rise of nationalistic and populist politicians in continental Europe. Yet many were also moved by images of bedraggled boat people from African and Arab countries, and footsore refugee children. The heart-rending images of people drowned in the Mediterranean or rescued by coastguards and freelance non-governmental organization (NGO) operations at first suggested a new humanitarian mood in Europe. But emotional responses of this sort proved to be less reliable and long-lasting than they had at first seemed. Even the warmest 1


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welcomes were seen to give way to resentment against the disruption created by growing migrant communities. Troubled social pictures contrasted, though, with more positive economic effects. Europe soon began to benefit from the economic dynamism that migration brings. Although we can’t know what postcoronavirus economies in Europe will look like in the longer term, until the virus struck most EU countries were, despite political furores, reaping financial rewards from migrant inflows. The worldwide economic benefits of migration are accelerating. Cross-border migrants, who now number around 250 million, are responsible for almost a tenth of global gross domestic product (GDP). Because migrants obviously head for wealthier and more productive countries, their boost to the world economy is reckoned at around $3 trillion – about as much as the UK’s entire output every year. Migrants’ total contribution to global GDP was estimated for 2015 at $6.7 trillion, about 40 per cent more than if they had remained in their home countries. To underline the fact that migrants are workers, not spongers, consultants at the McKinsey Global Institute pointed out that they contribute 9.4 per cent to the global economy while representing only 3.4 per cent of the world’s population.1 Geo-economic statistics like these don’t have much impact on public opinion. It is also impossible to tell whether the pressures created by the coronavirus will swing the political climate further to the right, with a strengthening of anti-immigrant sentiment. Nor whether efforts to integrate migrants will succeed on a large enough scale to compensate for Europe’s ageing. For the present, the game-changing effects of the coronavirus must be added to the variables surrounding migration. In the foreground, there’s the shift towards more ‘virtual’ rather than physical interaction, which will probably accelerate disruptive technological change. Increased automation and more sophisticated communications will, initially at any rate, favour white-collar jobs rather than manual blue-collar ones. But because that trend risks widening the wealth gaps, the result could well be a strengthening of pressures for more equitable wealth sharing.

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


That’s looking beyond the immediate consequences of the coronavirus lockdowns now slowing large swathes of the global economy and paralysing key sectors. How job-seeking economic migrants will fare when competing against indigenous workers while unemployment is rampant is anyone’s guess. No one knows what national labour markets will look like by 2025, when they have been relandscaped by massive job losses and shifts in working practices. What we can say with certainty is that the jobs lost to coronavirus lockdowns will pale into insignificance when set against the lack of young people available for work in the Europe of the 2030s and 2040s. In the meantime, what we have to deal with is the impact of the coronavirus crisis on all forms of migration – refugees along with both legal and illegal migrant job-seekers. Despite the boost to the popularity of care workers, the prejudices against migrants are at risk of being aggravated as the world enters a serious recession that may prove deeper than that of the ‘Hungry Thirties’ following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. But the coronavirus crisis does not alter the fundamental features and demographic structures of an ageing and shrinking Europe. Here are ten common myths surrounding immigration.

Myth 1: Europe has no need of migrants The impact of ageing, and of the shrinking of Europe’s active workforce, has been ringing alarm bells for some time. In 2010, a high-level ‘wise men’ report warned that to compensate for this, as many as 100 million immigrants would be needed in Europe by mid-century. Europe as a whole, not just the EU, at present numbers 740 million people, but by 2050 that will be down to 707 million. This demographic shift has long been forecast as a result of falling birth rates, but it’s now feeding into labour shortages that are already beginning to act as a brake on businesses, and therefore on economic growth. The ‘migrant crisis’ of recent years was about the speed of


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arrivals rather than numbers. Even if migration remains at its present level, EU countries will by 2050 see their total working age population drop from today’s 240 million to 207 million. Although spread over thirty years, that shortfall in the number of taxpayers and consumers spells economic trouble. Most European countries need more migrants, not fewer. The newcomers’ youthfulness is a great plus, especially if the preponderance of young men can be balanced by more women to boost Europeans’ waning fertility. Against this, though, must be set the very real difficulties of educating, training and integrating people of different cultures and religions. Restoring the balance between generations is essential. Europe’s rapidly ageing population is threatening to spark major economic and political upsets. The present 4:1 ratio of workers to pensioners will by mid-century have shrunk to 2:1, meaning there won’t be enough taxable income from wages to fund pensions for the growing number of retired people. Demographic decline is a very real threat to Europeans’ living standards, and to Europe’s competitiveness and international influence. America’s growing population stands in sharp contrast; it is set to rise from 320 million to over 400 million, promising the United States a far rosier demographic – and therefore economic – future. These are the demographic facts of life, but it’s harder than ever to highlight them in the climate of opinion engendered by Covid-19. European frontiers are becoming cordons sanitaires – health zones that claim to offer protection against coronavirus-carrying foreigners. Europe’s manpower needs will nevertheless outlive and outweigh the coronavirus in the longer term.

Myth 2: Migrants ‘take jobs’ from native Europeans This is one of most enduring myths of all. Native workers fear that newcomers will compete unfairly by accepting longer hours and less pay, so that employers will replace them with cheaper migrant labour.

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


Their fears are groundless; studies by labour market specialists have shown that companies are anxious to avoid the disruption of high employee turnover. Except in rare instances that involve the mass hiring of unskilled labourers, they much prefer to retain the workers they know and value. Lengthening dole queues disguise the fact that a shortage of suitable workers is still a major preoccupation of employers. Finding qualified workers for specialized jobs remains a challenge, even if hiring less skilled labour to do lower-paid jobs is easier. In the meantime, it remains to be seen whether unemployed EU nationals will accept the more menial seasonal work done by migrants. Their widespread reluctance to replace immigrant fruit pickers when coronavirus lockdowns prevented migrants’ arrival suggests that they may not. The coronavirus struck when labour markets in Europe were already weak. The constraints of a decade of economic austerity reduced casual work opportunities throughout most of Europe, while new technologies meant employers were increasingly demanding digital skills. No one can yet say how long advanced economies will take to recover, or what features of their pre-coronavirus economies will have disappeared or undergone radical change. The most alarming development, though, may be political rather than economic. Panic reactions to dramatic increases in unemployment could see migrants and refugees being scapegoated.

Myth 3: Migrants raise the risk of jihadist terrorism Before the coronavirus, the two most threatening issues Europeans believed they faced were immigration and terrorism, and the two seemed inextricably linked. A report in May 2019 found that six in every ten Europeans polled by the US-based Pew Research Center believed the refugee influx of 2015–16 was increasing the likelihood of terrorism.2 The EU’s Eurobarometer showed 39 per cent of respondents cited immigration, and 38 per cent terrorism as their concerns, suggesting


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they saw the two as comparable. Despite noisy public debate, only 12 per cent of respondents cited climate change. Now the concern of governments and their electorates is that refugees and economic migrants may reintroduce disease. It may be that the tensions of the coronavirus crisis will fan the flames of militant jihadism. But at the risk of tempting providence, it’s worth pointing out that terrorism in Europe has been falling significantly. Terrorism peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when fatal attacks by separatist, nationalist and anarchist groups like ETA in Spain, the IRA in Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Red Brigades in Italy and Germany were frequent.3 Without minimizing the importance of jihadist attacks in recent years, graphs representing the scale of terrorist violence over the last fifty years clearly show a progressive diminution. The average 150 or so attacks every year over the two decades until the early 1990s has reduced to single figures. But what counter-terrorism experts call ‘spectaculars’ have seared the public imagination. The spate of attacks in France, most notably that on the Bataclan theatre in Paris in which 130 people were killed in November 2015, has been mirrored in Britain, Belgium, Spain, Russia and Turkey. Public opinion understandably, but wrongly, associates migrants with these events. The head of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, has stated that ‘fewer than 0.01 per cent of terrorist suspects had migrant links’. Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator, reckons that jihadists are most likely to be ‘home grown’ second- or third-generation European nationals born of immigrant parents or grandparents. Although disparaged by experts, the notion that so-called Islamic State’s (IS) godfathers of terrorism send jihadis along migration routes is hard to shake. Aurélien Legrand, a senior figure in France’s far right Rassemblement National, formerly the Front National, spoke for many other anti-immigration activists around Europe when he told reporters that ‘terrorists, notably during the Bataclan attacks, entered among the

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


refugees,’ adding that ‘IS has said it would exploit migration corridors to send jihadists into Europe.’ Blocking the flow of migrants into Europe would do little to address the very real problems of militant Islam. Doing so would be to shut the stable door long after the horse has bolted. What is needed instead is a far more positive approach to the integration of migrants and to a constructive reset of Europe’s relations with the Arab world.

Myth 4: Migrants come to ‘sponge’ off Europeans’ social welfare The social welfare arrangements of most countries around the world, whether rich or poor, are being battered by the record numbers of people thrown out of work by coronavirus lockdowns. This risks rising choruses of protest against migrants who claim benefits, and this increasing noise would obscure the fact that most of these newcomers have been contributing more than they take out. Even before the coronavirus, some EU governments had been cutting back on the benefits available to newcomers, whether asylumseeking refugees or economic migrants. These reductions were in line with overall austerity policies, but the impression given was that Europe’s generous social security systems had been a magnet to people from poorer countries and needed to be made less attractive. It’s not only anti-immigration politicians who say that Europe’s social policies attract migrants. Branko Milanović, a US-based economist who formerly worked at the World Bank, has warned that welfare arrangements can act as a magnet. He has specialized in inequality issues and the rise of populism, and his views have been echoed by a good many politicians in Europe. Yet the notion that people would risk their own and their children’s lives in dangerous sea crossings for welfare benefits has always seemed far-fetched. Leaving aside ‘push’ factors like warfare, famine or abject poverty, the ‘pull’ factor of a job in


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prosperous Europe is more credible than the lure of social welfare payments. The decade of austerity policies that followed the 2008 financial crisis heightened concerns about social welfare’s costs. These average about a fifth of Europe’s GDPs, and are rising thanks to ageing rather than immigration. Benefits paid to migrants are nevertheless the focus of an increasingly tense debate in the aftermath of the coronavirus lockdowns. There’s little black or white in an argument that’s mostly shades of grey. The economic picture is far from straightforward because, as with so many aspects of migration, the questions regarding social welfare are complicated. And in today’s post-coronavirus world of skyrocketing unemployment, in which governments’ financial guarantees have often made them employers of last resort, it’s harder than ever to say how social welfare should be judged. Before coronavirus, analyses varied from country to country, not least because it was seldom clear whether non-European migrants or EU nationals were concerned. The latter, exercising their right to live and work wherever they choose in Europe, were more likely than nonEuropeans to gravitate towards countries with more generous social security systems. In the case of non-European newcomers, the consensus among economists is that on balance they have been fiscally advantageous. Angel Gurría, who heads the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ‘club’ of thirty-seven rich nations, most of them EU members, summed up the situation when he said of those countries that ‘migrants contribute more in taxes and social contributions than they receive in individual benefits.’ When Holger Bonin, a German economist at the University of Kassel, weighed up the taxes paid and benefits received, he put the average yearly contribution of immigrants at €3,300 per head. He found that the key was not so much the scale of the welfare benefits as the speed with which newcomers found work and began to earn their keep.

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


The pocket money available to refugees while searching for employment has been modest. The daily allowance of €11 per person in France has compared well with the niggardly €2.50 a day available in Italy, or the payments in Hungary limited to a tenth of the unemployment benefit available to native Hungarians. These sums are scarcely the enticements of popular folklore.

Myth 5: Migrants are a huge burden on Europe’s taxpayers In the tough atmosphere of post-coronavirus economic recovery, the upfront costs of accepting refugees and economic migrants may look more substantial than ever. The same can be said of newborn babies, but their dependent years as school and university students are rightly seen as society’s worthwhile investments. Newcomers should be seen in the same light. Migrants are an investment, not an unrecoverable cost. How good an investment is largely up to their host country, and depends on the policies put into place for welcoming them. Penny-pinching policies that condemn newcomers to the ‘ghettoization’ of poor housing, thirdrate schools for their children and inadequate training to equip them for Europe’s increasingly digitized labour markets are never going to pay off. When specialists at the McKinsey Global Institute looked at the implications of the 2015–16 migrant influx, they came up with some startling conclusions. They reckoned that by 2025 these newcomers would be making a €65 billion contribution to the European economy.4 Another research project, by the banking and financial services Citigroup in partnership with Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School, turned the question around and studied the costs of limiting migration. Its September 2018 report concluded that if no more migrants had been admitted to the UK since 1990, the real GDP would


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be 9 per cent smaller than it is today. For the United States, it reckoned that two-thirds of its economic growth since 2011 is directly attributable to migration.5 The OECD has calculated that on average migrants contribute 0.35 per cent to its member states’ overall GDPs. This figure could be considerably higher if host countries were better at getting newcomers into work; but far from speeding refugees into a job, many European governments place barriers in their way. These governments do little to help economic migrants who, even if they are ‘irregular’ and lack the right paperwork, have displayed the initiative needed to get to Europe to find employment.6 The time asylum seekers have to wait before being permitted to work varies from country to country. In a few they can look for a job immediately, while in most they must wait between six months and a year. In two EU countries they can’t start to look for a job until their asylum request is processed, which in practice can mean never. In other words, official bureaucracies are adding to the financial burden on taxpayers rather than easing it. With labour markets in turmoil as the result of mass redundancies and the closure of companies, it is difficult to predict the outlook for migrant job-seekers. What governments should nevertheless be doing is concentrating on ways to get newcomers into work. The obstacles are fairly high, but not insuperable. Immigrants are twice as likely as native Europeans to be unemployed, a ratio that will no doubt rise if host countries fail to undertake ambitious new education and training efforts. Something like a quarter of immigrant children in Europe are reckoned to lack basic reading skills at the age of 15. Unless that’s tackled, they will be part of a downtrodden and potentially antisocial underclass in countries that nowadays require high levels of education from job-seekers. In Sweden, for instance, over 95 per cent of jobs are said to require a secondary school leaving certificate as the minimum qualification.

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


Myth 6: Europe is so overcrowded there’s no room for migrants This myth is widely used to justify anti-immigrant stances. Even the most liberal-minded of politicians tend to advance overcrowding as a reason for reducing, perhaps even stopping, the flow of newcomers. It is a phoney argument because Europe’s slowly shrinking population means there’s more room, not less. Europe isn’t overcrowded by global standards, and many of its regions are instead suffering from an exodus of people. Take ‘la France profonde’, the term the French use to describe their country’s sleepiest agricultural areas. The problem of rural ‘desertification’ and ghost villages in underdeveloped regions and inhospitable mountain settings is a major headache. The pull exerted by major cities is also drawing people away from formerly prosperous towns, notably in Germany, Spain, Italy and some parts of the UK. So far, though, the planners of industrial development do not seem to have factored growth of the immigrant labour force into their thinking. The crude figures obtained by the World Bank and others by dividing population numbers into a country’s land area tend to be misleading, although they do make the obvious point that Europe, with an overall population density of about 112 people per square kilometre, is considerably less crowded than, say, India at around 400 people per square kilometre. The twenty-seven EU countries together with the UK are ninety-fifth on the list of the world’s most densely inhabited regions, which puts them halfway down the league table of the UN’s two hundred or so member countries. These bald statistics take no account of local conditions. Britain and Germany have roughly the same population density, well over twice that of France, and far less than the Benelux countries, yet all six countries have comparable living standards. Some geographers have introduced the concept of ‘lived-in densities’ in which they focus more on built-up urban areas than less inhabited parts. On that basis, England, rather than the UK, leaps up the charts with about 430 people per


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square kilometre. Spain, despite its many almost deserted regions, is even further ahead with more than 700 people per square kilometre in the 13 per cent of the country that is ‘lived in’. The proportion of immigrants living in European countries also contains surprises. Luxembourg has a far greater percentage of foreignborn people than anywhere else, at 46 per cent, followed by Switzerland at 30 per cent. Many of them may be well heeled, but that probably doesn’t apply to Sweden’s 18 per cent or Germany’s 15 per cent. In Britain, despite the vociferousness of the immigration debate, just over 13 per cent of the population was born elsewhere. As to the growth of immigrant communities elsewhere in Europe, increases between 2010 and 2015 in some countries have been counterbalanced by reductions in others. Italy, Spain, Greece, Poland and the Baltic republics all saw decreases in the size of their immigrant populations. Europeans are wrong to think that there’s no room left for immigrants. The principal challenge is that of distributing the migrants’ manpower as evenly as possible to compensate for population shifts already under way, and to avoid the growth of urban concentrations where long-term unemployment is more likely.

Myth 7: Migrants are ‘overwhelming whole cities’ This myth is among the most commonly heard of all – the idea that in some parts of Europe, whole cities have been taken over by immigrant communities, and that in some cases there are even ‘no-go’ areas the local police have largely abandoned. Some towns in northern England, for instance Blackburn in Lancashire, are pointed to as having been taken over by their Muslim communities, with Islam’s Sharia law paralleling the UK’s legal system. Blackburn’s Pakistani population – consisting substantially of people born in the UK – stands at 29 per cent of the town’s inhabitants, and there are forebodings among some of the white English community that it’s set to climb much higher. Similar stories are heard right across Europe.

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


Migrant communities are certainly attractive to newcomers because they offer supportive environments and cultural familiarity. But the charge that these communities are engulfing Europe’s cities and regions doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Pollsters report that migrants’ high visibility distorts perceptions, often to a ludicrous degree. Native-born Belgians have estimated their country’s Muslim population at 23 per cent – three times the actual figure. Nor have migrants flooded into Europe in the numbers that antiimmigrant voices warn of. They are instead dwindling, as French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in mid-2018 when referring to UN figures. ‘The number of migrants entering the European Union (net of outflows),’ he wrote in the newspaper Le Monde, ‘has been halved, falling from almost 1.4 million persons per annum between 2000 and 2010 to less than 0.7 million per annum between 2010 and 2018.’ The World Bank expressed a similar view in an October 2017 report. Its chief economist commented that it is ‘often lost in the current debate that the number of refugees is not unprecedented, that surges tend to be temporary, that refugees represent just a small share of the total number of migrants – and that migration has long been vital.’ Once settled, birth rates among non-European immigrants tend to slow, becoming lower than in their country of origin. Immigrants’ families are nevertheless larger on average than those of indigenous Europeans. Projections suggest that whatever happens politically in terms of limits on migrant inflows, Muslims are going to represent an increasing proportion of the European population. An in-depth study in November 2017 by the Pew Research Center posited three scenarios. Even if there were to be zero immigration, today’s 25 million Muslims in Europe will by mid-century increase from their present 4.9 per cent of the population to 7.4 per cent. A second scenario of ‘medium’ immigration – meaning regular, legal migrants at present levels without any refugee surges – would push that proportion to 11.2 per cent. The third scenario projects the Muslim population rising to 75 million by 2050, which would be 14 per cent.7


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If handled intelligently, larger Muslim communities need not lead to friction. A good example of how migrants can help neglected regions comes from Italy, and contrasts starkly with the negative popular sentiments that in 2018 brought an anti-immigrant left–right coalition into government there. The example of how newcomers have helped to revive rural economies in Sicily and Calabria deserves wider recognition. An Italian environmental organization called Legambiente has estimated that as many as 2,500 small towns and villages face extinction as a result of Italy’s demographic decline. Now, as part of a network known as SPRAR, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who arrived in southern Italy by boat are bringing new life to rural communities. Legambiente pointed to the small Sicilian town of Sutera, where immigrants have helped to create a vibrant summer festival of art and culture. Some have been apprenticed to local craftsmen whose skills were dying out. Sutera’s successful harnessing of Sicily’s migrant influx is being copied by the neighbouring towns of Mazzarino and Milena, where there are similar resettlement schemes. On the Italian mainland, the town of Riace in eastern Calabria, whose population had plummeted within a few decades from 2,500 to only 280 has a strategy of welcoming all and any migrants. Riace is now home to newcomers from twenty countries of origin, and business is booming. Cases like these can be found throughout Europe. Their importance is not just economic but also social; they point to the way that rural communities that have suffered from the pull of big cities can develop a positive and more open-minded attitude to migration.

Myth 8: Cheaper migrant labour depresses wage levels At first glance, this seems to make sense, at least where less skilled jobs are concerned. If migrants work for lower wages than native Europeans, then employers will naturally incline towards cheaper labour. That, after all, is what the market economy is all about. Right? Only up to a point. Several studies have shown that the arrival of migrants into European

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


countries’ labour markets has a minimal impact on wages. Several reports in the UK found that increases in immigrants’ share of the humblest low-skilled work depressed wage levels very little. British researchers have found that even quite substantial numbers of newcomers who find unskilled or semi-skilled jobs barely affect the wages paid to UK-born workers in similar employment. A study by University College London back in 2008 found that, among very low paid workers, wages were pushed down by between 0.5 and 0.6 per cent, and in the unskilled services sector by 0.2 per cent. For higher paid workers, migrants instead pushed average wages upwards. A similar report from the London School of Economics in 2016 said: ‘Areas of the UK with large increases in immigrants did not suffer greater falls in the jobs and pay of UK-born workers.’ We can’t yet tell what the post-coronavirus jobs market will look like, or the profile of economies in richer countries where new technologies will accommodate continued social distancing. But before Covid-19, almost any high street in Europe told a tale of would-be employers competing for scarce workers. From fast food outlets to supermarkets, from small retail shops to factory gates, there was a profusion of ‘Help Wanted’ and ‘Now Hiring’ signs. Yet wages had flatlined for some years, and opinion among economists was divided over the reasons. The aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis and the economic austerity that followed certainly contributed to wage stagnation, and on top of that there was the impact of the digital revolution. Now, with robots and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) outperforming humans in cost terms, while governments are anxious to maintain consumer demand and therefore tax revenues, it’s doubly hard to tell where wage levels are headed. In spite of high unemployment, the underlying shrinkage of the European workforce may start to force wage levels upwards. Until the coronavirus, the chief effect of demographic decline, with fewer young people coming onto the active labour market, had been a drop in overall unemployment. So, whatever happens to immigration levels, it may be that wage levels will again be rising.


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Central and Eastern Europe was seen in pre-coronavirus times as a laboratory test bed for the rest of Europe, and Hungary in particular. Despite the Hungarian government’s hard-line stance on refugees, it, along with the other Visegrad Pact countries – Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – has been desperate for manpower. In contrast to the rest of the EU, wages there had been rising fast; since 2010, wages had risen by 50 per cent in Hungary, and by around 30 per cent in the other three countries. By 2050, the four Visegrad countries’ total population will have shrunk by almost 10 million, a 13 per cent drop. That trend would lead to serious labour shortages with almost nine out of ten larger industrial companies complaining of a lack of manpower. The other Visegrad states warned their 4 per cent yearly growth couldn’t be sustained, and it’s likely their post-coronavirus recovery will also be compromised. One solution to Europe’s long-term manpower shortages is more robots, but the most effective solution of all is better training and education. Throughout Europe, the answer to wage stagnation along with persistent manpower shortages once digitization bites even harder will be the availability of workers with improved skills. And that will be just as true of immigrant job-seekers as of indigenous Europeans.

Myth 9: Europe can’t afford the cost of more migrants Long before coronavirus turned the world upside down, the most commonly heard complaint in EU countries after the 2015–16 migrant crisis was that taking in so many people was unaffordable. That cry is again fuelling anti-immigrant sentiments among even the most liberal Europeans. Yet the reverse remains true; Europe can’t afford to bar the way to migrants. The balance sheets of governments are now a riot of red ink. It’s impossible to say how long the serious recession that began in 2020 will last or how deep it will be. Massive indebtedness and unimaginably

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


generous subsidies to businesses and individuals will be the legacy of the coronavirus, and these are going to push the costs of receiving migrants far down the priorities list. But it is nevertheless wrong to think we can’t afford immigration. In truth, we can’t afford to do without it. In May 2016, almost on the eve of the Brexit referendum, the UK government released figures showing that workers who had been coming to Britain from other parts of Europe contributed handsomely to the national budget. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs analysed European migrant workers’ tax contributions and benefit entitlements from 2012 to 2016 and found a £2.54 billion surplus. The UK’s Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) has put the stimulatory effects of European migrants’ labour contribution as amounting to an 0.6 per cent of the national economy. It is the rapidly rising cost of ageing populations that’s the chief burden on national balance sheets. The upfront costs of settling and integrating newcomers are real enough, but are relatively small when compared to pensions and healthcare. On the income side, there’s the wealth to be generated if the newcomers’ potential is harnessed productively. With more immigrants, Europe has an opportunity to invest in their human capital and stimulate badly needed economic growth and tax revenues. Healthcare alone is set to be cripplingly expensive. By mid-century it will rise from 7.8 per cent of the EU’s GDP to around 11 per cent. On top of that are the increased pension costs of a Europe in which four people in ten will be over 65. Pensions in most EU countries are already creaking at the seams, thanks to the earlier retirement ages introduced so recklessly in the 1980s, and, so far, the over-65s represent a bit less than a fifth of the population. The coming pensions disaster when the proportion of retirees jumps from just under 20 per cent to 40 per cent isn’t confined only to state schemes, because private funds are also threatened. The €10 billion price tag that German analysts estimated during the 2015–16 refugee influx was surprisingly modest. They also sugared the


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pill by suggesting it was an investment that would begin to pay off within five to ten years. At Deutsche Bank, the country’s venerable financial giant, it was calculated that the immediate cost would be around 0.3 per cent of Germany’s GDP, and before long would give the economy greater vigour. When the International Monetary Fund (IMF) looked at the cost to Europe of the refugee surge, it reckoned it to be 0.15 per cent of GDP. The IMF also came down unequivocally in favour of migrant labour as a way to lighten the burden of ageing on social insurance schemes. Because Germany heads the EU countries most afflicted by ageing, many of its economists see migrants as a source of labour to compensate for the shrinkage of its workforce. There are other reasons, too, for seeing immigration as a wider and even more powerful economic boost. The investments needed to integrate migrants and to harness their energies are a flywheel that could shift Europe’s sluggish economic motor into a higher gear. Looking back over the last century and a half, there are some very clear patterns in the way industrial countries have developed. The municipal sewerage systems pioneered in London in the midnineteenth century were part of a host of innovations that sparked dynamic growth in Europe and America: indoor plumbing, gas and then electrification; the revolution in transport that began with trains and was followed by cars, lorries and aircraft. All these developments created new jobs and breathtaking growth. Those innovations did far more to stimulate activity and generate wealth than any of today’s scientific breakthroughs. In the United States, where computerization was embraced faster and more enthusiastically than in Europe, research has shown that it provided only a brief economic fillip, beginning in the mid-1990s and lasting no more than ten years. Robert Gordon of Chicago’s Northwestern University has charted US innovation and productivity growth, and found that while the introduction of information technology in the late twentieth century was very beneficial, it paled in comparison with the sustained effects of

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


new technologies from 1920 to 1970. In other words, Prof. Gordon’s findings are a warning that the digital and bio revolutions are unlikely to revitalize economic growth sufficiently to pay for demographic change.8 However, building new housing, schools and hospitals most certainly can. Investing in infrastructure to accommodate millions of newcomers could give Europe a huge economic impetus. Advocates of a more liberal approach to immigration concentrate on the increasing need for workers in the healthcare sector, but an ambitious migrant-driven infrastructural strategy would yield far greater benefits. It may well be that governments will turn to the history books and take a leaf from US President Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ of the mid-1930s. He confronted the economic depression that saw millions of Americans lose their jobs with a set of ambitious public works programmes. A similar response across Europe could bring work and renewed prosperity to Europe’s newly unemployed victims of the coronavirus crisis, including economic migrants.

Myth 10: Robots will make migrant labour unnecessary This is wishful thinking at its most optimistic. There’s no doubt that AI and robotics are going to transform many work practices, but Europe’s manpower needs can’t be satisfied by more machines. Europe requires taxpayers to fund the changes crowding in on us. And we need consumers to sustain demand for the services that have overtaken goods as the larger and most profitable part of our economies. Robots may eventually help to improve European countries’ generally dismal productivity levels, yet so far there’s been little sign of that. Robots are certainly not going to make most migrant workers redundant. The positive aspect of robotization seems to be the machines’ potential for performing skilled tasks at a time when industrial


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corporations are losing workers to retirement. Recruitment problems threaten more and more companies that rely on scarce and therefore much sought-after engineering skills. It is these shortages as much as cheaper labour costs that have been driving European companies’ investments in Asia and elsewhere. Half of all unskilled and menial jobs in Europe are carried out by non-Europeans, according to an OECD report back in 2014. Its researchers put the proportion of immigrants who can be classified as well educated at no more than 14 per cent. The refugees and asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq who arrived in 2015 and 2016 may have raised the skills level during those years, but it’s unlikely that future waves of migrants will do so. Host countries in Europe therefore have two options. In the case of younger migrants, and children especially, they can educate and train them to join the higher echelons of their workforces, and become part of the digital revolution. For those who cannot adapt to digitization, there’s Europe’s unabated need for less skilled labour. The danger is of creating a migrant underclass that would pull European society back through time. The spectre of an uneducated, perhaps even illiterate, social and economic substratum harking back to the ‘dark satanic mills’ of Victorian times has to be vigorously resisted.

Misunderstandings and muddled official thinking These myths should not be confused with more general misunderstandings. The greatest of these is arguably the most basic; it’s the way refugees and economic migrants have become interchangeable labels in the public mind, even though the rigid legal distinction between the two creates major problems. Another confusion is that EU citizens and residents seeking work elsewhere in Europe are spoken of in the same breath as non-European migrants. A third difficulty is the muddled way different countries

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


allocate responsibility for the many complex aspects of immigration to different authorities. Refugees make headlines, but they are a relatively small part of the migration picture. One in ten of the world’s quarter of a billion displaced people has fled to escape persecution or the dangers of conflict; the other nine are economic migrants in search of a better life. Add to them the 750 million people that Gallup pollsters say ‘would migrate if they could’, then the world’s mobile or potentially footloose population numbers over a billion people.9 Although the distinction between refugees and economic migrants is often blurred, it is rigidly applied by the relevant authorities. Public opinion tends to see refugees as deserving preferential treatment, yet the same sympathy is denied to economic migrants. More and more newly arrived people have therefore begun to ask for political asylum, knowing that even if their chances of being granted refugee status are slim, an uncertain outcome that often spans several years is better than being turned away immediately as an unwelcome economic migrant. This places an unnecessary burden on administrative services and legal machinery. It also further complicates the task of separating legal and illegal migration. The bulk of migrants whose asylum applications are turned down – usually after drawn-out appeals – disappear and become undocumented illegals. Only a small proportion of refused asylum seekers return home voluntarily or are deported by overworked and poorly organized officialdoms Creating a clear-cut legal immigration system is essential if the situation is not to become increasingly chaotic. Unmanageable migrant surges will continue until would-be migrants from African and Arab countries are left in no doubt that legal application is worthwhile and that illegal entry is guaranteed to be fruitless. Scrapping the distinction between refugees and economic migrants would make sense, and has been backed by analysts in a variety of international institutions, most notably at the IMF.10 But the chances of this are slim. The distinction is a cornerstone of international human rights law enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention, and only massive


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international support from among the UN’s 200 or so member nations could change that. In this instance, the United Nations is the victim of its own success. Even when governments give consideration to the right criteria for accepting migrants, there are fraught national debates over whether moral values take precedence over economic imperatives. Heated disagreements on this have been changing the face of European politics. It would be far easier to lift the fog over who is and is not a bona fide political refugee by classifying them all quite simply as newcomers. A sizeable majority of migrants within Europe are, in any case, Europeans. Forty million of the EU’s total migrant population of 75 million (before Brexit) are EU citizens exercising their right to live and work in any other EU country. They are an integral part of the single market, and thus contribute to the development of a continental-scale European economy equivalent to the United States. Yet they are sometimes treated with the same hostility as immigrants from elsewhere. This is not to say that non-European migrants should be treated less well. Rather that public opinion would be more welcoming to all newcomers if the discourse of political leaders in Europe and of its governments were more positive. Greater emphasis needs to be given to the economic case for bringing in more people as workers, taxpayers and consumers. Sadly, it’s an argument too little echoed by politicians whose fears of offending voters outweigh their responsibility to inform them. A notable feature of governments’ responses to the rising levels of immigration has been their refusal to adapt the relevant administrative structures. Few in the higher reaches of national governments believed that the 2015–16 surge marked the end of the story, but to avoid causing alarm they mostly stopped short of creating new bodies to handle future migrant waves. There has been a marked absence throughout the EU, to say nothing of the UK, of centralized administrative machinery to handle immigration. This will prove an expensive mistake. There are tensions

Exploding Migration’s Most Misleading Myths


already within Germany and Sweden – the two most refugee-friendly countries – over how to fund emergency housing and expanded health and education arrangements. The unexpectedly hostile political climate in both countries promises to be a foretaste of worse to come throughout Europe. The creation by EU member states of centralized immigration authorities could pave the way towards a more concerted Europe-wide system. Strategic thinking is needed about how European nations should adapt to more immigration, and how they should cooperate rather than compete with one another. That demands new structures, bigger budgets and a far more open-minded approach.



Like Covid-19, Migration is a Global Earthquake

The coronavirus is reshaping the twenty-first-century world before our eyes, but significant change has already been taking place. Giants like China, India and Brazil are on the move, as are more and more of the world’s poor. Europe may erect stronger defences against immigration, yet is an ageing continent in need of new blood. The post-Covid-19 conundrum is how to reconcile immediate economic recovery and job protection measures with strategic planning that takes account of fundamental demographic and global shifts. There’s nothing new about migration. People have been on the move since the dawn of time, heading towards promise and away from trouble. After the relatively recent crumbling of the Roman Empire, Europe saw the arrival of Huns, Turks and Mongols during the fifth to thirteenth centuries. The Saracens reached as far north as central France and, although repelled at Poitiers in the eighth century, they left their indelible mark on Spain and Portugal. In the nineteenth century, Europeans themselves became the global migrants. Hunger, along with political and religious dissent, spurred a mass movement westward across the Atlantic, and took 55 million Europeans to the United States and Canada, as well as to Australasia and Latin America. But this time it’s different, and that’s true both for host countries in Europe and for those that migrants come from. The newcomers attracted to twenty-first-century Europe are far more numerous than before, reflecting the almost geometric growth of the world’s population. They are also more savvy because they are citizens of our increasingly 25


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interconnected global village. They may not be culturally adapted to European society, but they are familiar with many practical aspects of economic life. Social integration, however, is a major challenge to most newcomers, whether they are refugees fleeing from conflict and persecution, or economic migrants driven by poverty and ambition. Factors like religion, race and language are complicating their social integration. As well as these social and cultural barriers, the new dividing line seems likely to be health. Even when the coronavirus pandemic is eventually tamed within Europe, it may well remain endemic to the south and east of the Mediterranean. Entry procedures at the EU’s frontiers will probably include rigorous health checks that have the effect of legitimizing a more aggressive ‘Fortress Europe’. Within weeks of Covid-19 reaching Europe and triggering the lockdowns that began in March 2020, Italy and Malta had closed their ports to all arrivals from Libya, citing possible health risks. These closures marked the first moves to protect the EU against contagion from refugees and migrants. Health considerations may, however, prove to be less important than economic ones. European countries will be unable to insulate themselves from coronavirus’s impact on the stability of their poorer neighbours. The virus itself has been less damaging in epidemiological terms than in its impact on their vulnerable economies. The fear is that Europe’s slowdown is hitting its southern neighbours so hard that the EU’s own security is at risk. Debate on migration within Europe has been far from sophisticated. More liberal voices argue for increased legal immigration as a demographic necessity, and as a way of avoiding the chaos of uncontrollable illegal migration. The counter-argument is that more migration brings with it social and cultural disruption that could provoke dangerous political tensions. On top of this, there’s constant confusion over the free movement of migrant labour within Europe – a cornerstone of the EU project – and the rising number of economic migrants from beyond Europe.

Migration is a Global Earthquake


Collective folk memories are surprisingly short. It is largely forgotten that an estimated 40 million people were displaced during and after the Second World War, including the 14 million or so who were eventually resettled on one side or other of the Iron Curtain. Post-war reconstruction also saw the rise of foreign communities in Europe – Turkish gastarbeiter (guest workers) in Germany, Italian miners in Belgium, and in tiny Luxembourg, before it switched from steelmaking to financial services, a Portuguese community that at one point was almost a third of the population. From the 1950s onwards, arrivals from former colonial possessions gradually remodelled the foundations on which European society had been built and shaped over centuries; homogeneous white, Christian ‘old’ Europe slowly gave way to a more multicultural, multi-ethnic ‘new’ Europe. Whatever their origins, the newcomers to various parts of Europe were able to settle in their host countries without serious friction. The healthy economic conditions engendered by Germany’s wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) or France’s 30-year post-war boom, the trente glorieuses, ensured that immigrants and their families were made welcome. That seems set to change. Fuelled by the troubled aftermath of Covid-19, migration will affect many of Europe’s most fundamental socio-economic structures, and therefore will probably upset largely consensual national political systems. It seems unlikely that today’s political parties and voter loyalties will survive the shake-ups unscathed. The European Union will inevitably find itself at the centre of these shake-ups, even though its uncertain future will be just one facet of the global upheaval now under way. With the notable exception of the United States, the world’s most prosperous countries face substantial demographic shrinkages at a time when many poorer nations are undergoing population explosions. Researchers at the Paris-based Fondation Robert Schuman have labelled these as ‘tectonic shifts’, and warn that they are being disastrously ignored. They introduced a February 2018 report on this global earthquake by complaining of policymakers’ ‘deafening silence over


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Europe’s demographic suicide up to 2050’. Brussels, they charged, prefers to focus on technological revolution, sustainable development and energy transition rather than on the fact that by mid-century lower birth rates will see 49 million fewer working age Europeans.1 That will make a huge hole in the size of Europe’s workforces, and therefore in European governments’ tax bases. As policymakers seek ways out of the depression that has been precipitated by the coronavirus lockdowns, they will need to bear these inescapable longer-term developments in mind.

Migration’s longer-term challenges The immigration outlook was bad enough before the coronavirus, and now it’s more politically toxic than ever. There are four key elements: 1. Despite Covid-19’s lengthening dole queues, longer-term economic forces mean Europe needs more migrants, not fewer. 2. The pressures generated by Covid-19 are driving refugees and economic migrants towards Europe in unprecedented numbers. 3. Economic recovery policies post-coronavirus are making the integration of migrants harder and more politically explosive. 4. Post-coronavirus geopolitics are reshaping Europe’s neighbourhood and imposing volatile external priorities on EU policymaking. These four elements will reach into almost every corner of national and EU policymaking. Unpalatable though they may be, they highlight the need for a strategic pan-European approach to ensure that migration does not become dangerously divisive. The strains of the postcoronavirus global economic depression are heightening tensions inside Europe, and with its Mediterranean and African neighbours. More than thirty years have elapsed since the EU first mooted a European policy on immigration. Even though that has failed to take practical shape, the pressures of migration are being fuelled by the coronavirus crisis. Pretending these pressures are minimal risks

Migration is a Global Earthquake


dangerous consequences, as does sticking to the idea that handling immigration is a purely national competence. The European Union offers a durable framework for political debate and decision-making, and is the only feasible mechanism for arriving at collective policies to face the challenges. This isn’t to say that EU officials in Brussels should be given responsibility for handling highly charged migration issues. Political powers must be left with elected politicians, including the representatives of immigrant communities. But the EU’s structures offer the means of agreeing common approaches and avoiding beggar-thy-neighbour national policies. An EU-level approach to migration would do much to answer that perennial question: ‘What is Europe for?’ There is also an important international dimension to Europe’s handling of migration, even though debates within the EU have generally avoided reference to global migration other than for humanitarian aid operations. The stresses and strains of worldwide economic hardship are certain to aggravate tensions between governments confronted by migratory surges. European countries’ difficulties can be seen as comparatively minor when set against those facing leading ‘host’ nations of the world. The ‘Big Six’ in terms of foreign-born newcomers in relation to their indigenous population are: Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan, Lebanon and Jordan. Europeans tend to dismiss the migrant and refugee problems of teeming Asia and conflict-riven Africa as concomitants of those continents’ underdevelopment. But the migratory pressures on the United States are revelatory, and Europe could learn from them. America’s higher living standards attract migrants as much as Europe’s, if not more, yet American attitudes to newcomers are on the whole far more positive in spite of the rhetoric and rancour of the Trump administration. Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House saw a radical change to official US policy on immigration. The famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty – ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses


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yearning to breathe free’ – gave way to Trump’s wall with Mexico and rumours that he even wanted an ‘alligator moat’ to keep migrants at bay. With the advent of the coronavirus, Trump felt free to announce his policy of ‘zero immigration’ despite a chorus of protests from American corporations and universities that this would hamstring the United States technologically. The figures for refugees admitted to the United States had already dwindled dramatically. The number of people granted asylum was cut from 30,000 in 2018 to a quota of only 18,000 in 2020. This trickle of accepted refugees, chiefly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Syria and Somalia, contrasts with the 1980 high point when 300,000 people were admitted to America as refugees, over half of them from Asia. In that year only 4 per cent of those refugees were from Latin America. Today, Hispanics form the bulk of would-be migrants to the United States. A poll by Gallup found that 27 per cent of adults interviewed in Latin American and Caribbean countries wanted to leave their homeland. The United States was overwhelmingly their destination of choice. Mexico has been the chief country of origin, with over 11 million Mexicans today making up by far the largest immigrant community in the United States. Although between 1990 and 2017 the millions of unauthorised immigrants who made their way across the US border were predominantly from Mexico, Central American countries also accounted for substantial numbers. El Salvador is second to Mexico, with over a million and a half Salvadorans now living in the United States, mainly in California. Guatemalans heading northwards have been turned back in large numbers. In 2019, 250,000 Guatemalan migrants were repulsed by US border guards. An added complication of Central American migrants is that a high proportion don’t speak fluent Spanish – approaching half of Guatemalans are ethnically Mayan and speak little-known local languages like Mam, K’iche’ or Q’anjob’al. America’s migration outlook is fluid and fast-moving; in contrast to former President Trump’s narrative, the United States will increasingly

Migration is a Global Earthquake


be a nation of immigrants. A fifth of Americans or their parents will have been born abroad by mid-century. The Hispanic population will by then have been overtaken in size by Asians, a rising number of them from China. Projections by the Pew Research Center, in Washington, DC, suggest that by 2065 the total number of foreign-born people in the United States will be almost 80 million, up from 45 million in 2015, with 38 per cent being of Asian origin, compared with the Hispanic population’s 31 per cent.2 The major difference between America and Europe isn’t so much immigration pressures, which are broadly comparable, but public opinion. Although Donald Trump saw political advantage in cracking down on immigration, in America there has in fact been a pronounced warming of public attitudes to migrants. In sharp contrast to European public opinion, Americans believe newcomers strengthen their country. The Pew researchers have reported a major turnaround in the United States over the last twenty-five years. In 1994, only 31 per cent of people polled saw immigrants’ hard work and talents as an asset for the United States, and 63 per cent believed immigrants to be a burden. By 2019, that picture had undergone a remarkable change. Only 28 per cent of Americans interviewed thought newcomers take jobs, housing and healthcare away from them, and 62 per cent believed their contribution strengthens the United States. How these positive attitudes will withstand the pressures of economic depression remains to be seen.

The full impact of Europe’s demographic deficit is yet to come Europeans rarely display the same positive attitude to migration as Americans. Although the migrant crisis of 2015–16 briefly sparked public sympathy for refugees, this soon turned into bitter disputes between EU governments over burden sharing. These have been simmering since then, and now threaten to boil furiously.


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Discussion of migration between Europe’s national governments makes little sense when they talk simply of migrants and use that term loosely to refer to native European job-seekers and non-European immigrants alike. Policymakers and politicians frequently confuse the two categories, as they do refugees and economic migrants. The difficulties of shaping practicable European-level policies are discussed in Chapters 9 and 10, and daunting though they seemed before Covid-19, they now look harder still. The policies that were developed to handle the 2015–16 influx of refugees coming chiefly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are inadequate for fresh surges resulting from conflicts or climate change, and are handicapped by greater public hostility than before. The painful reality of rising pressure from migrants and refugees in the face of greater resistance by indigenous Europeans is the most visible part of the problem. Hidden from sight is Europe’s need for far more sophisticated integration and education methods. If increasingly heterogeneous migrant intakes are to become useful and productive citizens, a more far-sighted approach is needed to the housing of newcomers and fitting them with skills so they can find work. Educating immigrants – whether they are bona fide refugees or economic migrants who have no claim to asylum – is only one aspect of the problem. The other is to educate influential Europeans – journalists, politicians and civil society as a whole – and convince them of the need for new blood from outside Europe. Europe has yet to feel the full impact of decades of declining birth rates. More hospitals but fewer schools are already required for the second quarter of the twenty-first century, and that implies radical and therefore expensive reorganizations and reforms. Robotization and the digital revolution may compensate for shrinking human workforces and even boost Europe’s sluggish productivity, but robots don’t pay taxes or consume goods and services, whereas migrants will. A high proportion of migrants will be suited only to less skilled employment, raising the spectre of an underclass that cannot readily be integrated into European society. So, although bringing in more young

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people from African and Arab countries is the easiest solution to EU countries’ demographic deficits, it may also be the most contentious. Political divisions fuelled by opposition to migration have been doing much to reshape Europe’s democratic landscape. Fears of being ‘swamped’ by immigrants have swept right-wing populists to the forefront of European politics, and sometimes into power. The facts presented by economists have scarcely been heard. This deafness doesn’t make those analysts’ message any less compelling. The price of Europe’s ageing and shrinking population is that ever-larger ethnic and religious communities who don’t necessarily share Europeans’ traditional values must be accommodated, however daunting the social and political difficulties. It’s hard to persuade Europeans that migration is key to their children’s and grandchildren’s future well-being when they see newcomers as a threat rather than a salvation. The decade of austerity between the 2008 financial crisis and Covid19’s deep recession caused many Europeans to suffer lower living standards. The return of mass unemployment while Europe grapples with economic recovery is making it harder than ever to tell voters that without more migration there won’t be enough workers and taxpayers to power the economic growth and fund the snowballing costs of public services. Stagnant wages, rising property prices and squeezed discretionary spending have all resulted in one way or another from the West’s declining share of the global economy. The World Bank has observed that two-thirds of people in the twenty-five richest countries – and no prizes for guessing that EU members make up the bulk of these – are now appreciably poorer than at the end of the twentieth century. Per capita GDP in Europe was for many years much the same as in the United States, but is now only about two-thirds of American levels and is heading towards three-fifths. Asian competitors have also been drawing ahead with spectacular speed. Even before coronavirus, Asia was expected to overtake Europe’s economic output as measured by purchasing power parity in 2022.3


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Many people apparently believe that curbing immigration can halt this downward trend, which they see as threatening their livelihoods and way of life. A worldwide Gallup poll in 2016 found that 52 per cent of Europeans had become strongly anti-immigrant – the highest proportion, said the pollsters, of anywhere in the world.4 Some voters may blame immigration for their ills, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Europe’s need for newcomers has been put by some analysts at 100 million people by mid-century. Before the surge of 2015–16, an average of one and a half million people had been arriving in Europe every year, which was less than half the numbers called for in an authoritative 2010 ‘wise men’ report by Spain’s former prime minister, Felipe Gonzalez. He had been asked to study the long-term implications of Europe’s ageing, early retirement, rising pension entitlements and soaring healthcare costs, but his findings were so stark that EU governments quietly buried them.5

The elusive goal of ‘managing’ migration Whatever the state of public opinion, European governments know they must learn to manage greater flows of newcomers. The rhetoric of politicians, notably but not exclusively populist, will remain hostile, fuelled by the recession and persistent fears of renewed coronavirus outbreaks, but planners and civil servants know they must adjust to the demographic pressures that are shaping the future. Europe’s national civil services have begun to realize that they will need to cooperate with one another on migration, and this means that the governments of the countries that migrants come from must also be involved. The doubling of Africa’s population to 2.5 billion by 2050 means governments there will have a crucial role to play. The pressures are growing for some sort of ‘grand bargain’ to manage migration. ‘Managing’ migration throws up all sorts of problems, such as agreeing and then imposing quotas on countries from which would-be economic migrants originate. And because refugee crises created by

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conflict or climate change are so unpredictable, the feasibility of blocking illegal immigration – the EU prefers to call it ‘irregular’ – is already very questionable. Whether driven by hunger or ambition, migrants will keep on coming, whatever the barriers in their way. Biometric passports, identity checks or air, sea and land patrols can slow them down, but these are countered by other forces that make migration easier. Smartphones are an important navigational aid for clandestine travellers, and can put them directly in touch with immigrant communities. Images of Europeans’ wealthier living standards are now beamed directly to the least privileged societies on earth, but at the same time the Information Age has been strengthening populists’ ability to oppose more liberal approaches to immigration. They insist that accepting migrants is optional, arguing that voters’ rejection of a more multiethnic and multicultural society could reduce migration to a trickle and perhaps even halt it. The flaw in this argument is that higher barriers to migration would eventually have the opposite effect of aggravating political and social tensions. Reducing immigration or even freezing it would set off a chain reaction in which growing labour shortages would reduce governments’ tax incomes, and that in turn would undermine public services, while the lower levels of consumption would hit businesses large and small. Europeans prospered greatly in the years that followed the Second World War. There have been ups and downs, but until Covid-19 and its aftermath of serious recession, the trend line had been of near-universal benefit in terms of jobs, housing and education. The post-war era saw migrants from the Indian sub-continent, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Turkey, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and above all from within Europe itself, find new lives in their adopted EU countries. This more prosperous period will be looked back on nostalgically; Europe faces an indefinite period of economic recovery while also standing on the brink of demographic change and shrinking global


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weight. In 1945, Europeans were a quarter of the world’s population, and today they are less than a tenth. Europe’s declining importance in the world, together with its ageing population, means that it could not in any case expect the same living standards as before. By 2060, Europeans over 65 years old will make up 43 per cent of the population. And even if robots and AI take up some of the slack, reduced consumption and smaller tax revenues point toward a less dynamic economy. This gloomy outlook isn’t a recent discovery. A decade ago, a US Census Bureau study said that even if Europe were to bring in 20 million working age immigrants by 2030 its pool of manpower will have shrunk by 12 million. The American analysis reckoned that the numbers of the elderly in Europe are increasing so rapidly that by 2030 the over-65s will account for 40 per cent of the population.6 Public opinion ignores these demographic facts of life. Electorates are more volatile these days – one might say more fickle – and the economic slowdown that started after the 2008 financial crisis and was compounded by austerity policies, has obscured the wider picture. Voters are turning to the populists’ simplistic solutions and are increasingly drawn to nationalism that prevents effective EU-level policymaking. The erosion of living standards and welfare benefits will hurt Europe’s poorest and least privileged communities most of all, yet tougher controls on immigration seem a likely scenario. The solution to Europe’s ageing is clearly more immigration, whatever the adjustment costs and difficulties, but Europeans seem bent on choosing the worst option of aggravating their manpower shortages.

Sorting refugees from economic migrants ‘Refugees good, economic migrants bad’ has been the popular refrain of recent years. Europe’s humanitarian sympathies have promised asylumseeking refugees a warm welcome, whereas economic migrants are seen as purely self-interested and intent on tapping into welfare benefits.

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It’s an unconvincing notion that was soundly dismissed by French sociologist Karen Akoka when she asked: ‘Where does this idea come from that fleeing from the threat of imprisonment is somehow more noble than fleeing from the prospect of starving to death?’ Mediterranean Sea crossings had by mid-2016 begun to exact a rising toll of deaths by drowning, and Prof. Akoka added: ‘If we want a fairer asylum policy, two things are necessary; a more flexible interpretation of the Geneva Convention, and less restrictive immigration policies.’ The 1951 convention on refugees is the target of dissatisfaction on many sides. It’s also, to all intents and purposes, impossible to reform. Designed at the start of the Cold War to protect ‘from political persecution’ the millions of Europeans displaced by the Second World War, it was buttressed in 1967 by protocols extending its scope and time horizons. It has since been supplemented by various regional instruments, including an EU Temporary Protection Directive of 2001 that has never been used, no doubt because it includes a mechanism for the distribution of refugees among member states. Because irregular economic migrants know their chances of being allowed to stay in an EU country are slim, they claim increasingly to be refugees and apply for asylum. They are aware that after a fairly lengthy review they will probably be refused, but they will then melt away into undocumented anonymity. The IMF reckons that over a quarter of immigrants who come to Europe nowadays seek asylum. That’s the downside of a system that’s widely acknowledged to be flawed, but is seldom discussed by officialdom. A more openly recognized weakness of the Geneva Convention is that it doesn’t provide sufficiently for IDPs, the internally displaced people forced from their homes by conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia who now number almost 40 million. But divisions between the convention’s 145 signatory countries are so deep that updating the convention looks impossible. That doesn’t stifle calls for changes to the ways in which refugees are treated. Two prominent British experts – Sir Paul Collier and Alexander Betts, both of Oxford University – have urged a new economic strategy


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in which the rich Western countries would create Special Economic Zones in the Arab states that are bearing the brunt of refugees. Pointing in their book, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System, to the fact that Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are disproportionately host to tens of millions fleeing from Syria and elsewhere, they want to see substantial corporate investment in job-creating projects there.7 Others, like David Miliband, the former UK Foreign Secretary who left politics to head the New York-based International Rescue Committee, see refugee resettlement as a priority. His book, Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of our Time, sets out proposals for reforming the ways in which refugees are treated.8 As for the EU, there’s not only pressure from the European Commission for member countries to accept more refugees, there’s also pressure from beyond Brussels for a rethink of existing EU policy on immigration and asylum. Solon Ardittis, co-editor of Migration Policy Practice and managing director of the Eurasylum organization, says it’s time to acknowledge the failure of the EU’s migration solidarity doctrine. He has suggested making it a two-tier arrangement in which countries would either sign up to a mandatory refugee relocation regime, or would opt to be part of a voluntary framework of financial and technical assistance.

The ebb and flow of a world in flux It isn’t easy to grasp the speed and depth with which population growth is changing the world. Or how much the world has already changed since globalization began to bite. Just as strong a force as the movement of people is that of goods and services, which has seen the measurable global economy grow sevenfold since the 1950s, and now stands at upwards of $65 trillion a year. That’s also a result of there being so many more people; the 2.5 billion souls on earth in 1950 have tripled to 7.5 billion and seem set to hit 9.8 billion by mid-century, perhaps reaching 11 billion at the dawn

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of the twenty-second century. Set against this there are the momentous shifts within the global economy. The globalization that the rich Western nations at first revelled in has become much less welcome now. We can’t yet tell the shape of globalization’s next phase in the aftermath of Covid-19, but already the development of international trade and the global economy has produced a remarkable rebalancing of wealth around the world. The industrialized West’s two-thirds share of the international economy in the closing decades of the twentieth century has today fallen to 39 per cent, about the same as Asia’s. The two fast-growing economic giants, China and India, each had 4 per cent of global output in 1990, and (pre-coronavirus) their shares were due to rise to 21 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, by 2022. These statistics tend to obscure the reality of a world in flux, and of rising misery among the displaced and persecuted. A quarter of a billion people are on the move, either voluntarily or because they have been forced from their homes, and their numbers continue to rise. Efforts to improve conditions in some poorer countries have reduced pressures to emigrate, but there is quite simply so much poverty that the total number of migrants keeps on growing. Some observers take comfort from the fact that the proportion of migrants is lower than in earlier decades. A 2016 report for the EU’s Paris-based Institute for Security Studies pointed out that ‘for the last 25 years, the world has achieved artificially low levels of migration’, partly because Western governments’ development policies have persuaded people to stay at home.9 The report’s author, Roderick Parkes, explained that although, at about 3 per cent, the proportion of people migrating is either flatlining or in some regions actually reducing, the 50 per cent jump in the world’s population from five billion since 1990 has seen the numbers of people on the move rise quite sharply. There were 244 million migrants worldwide in 2015, according to the UN’s Population Division, a 41 per cent increase over the total at the close of the twentieth century.


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Seventy-six million of these migrants are in Europe, where one inhabitant in ten was born elsewhere than the country in which he or she lives. Two-thirds came from outside Europe, and the remaining third were born somewhere else within the European Union. Until the 2015–16 surge of around one and a half million refugees fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia, the steady arrival of economic migrants as well as refugees had been absorbed without serious disruption. On average, the EU was taking in 260 newcomers a year for every 100,000 native Europeans. What shines out from these figures is that, although Europe’s intake of refugees seems comparatively negligible when compared to the crowded camps of refugees and IDPs in the Middle East and Africa, Europe has for a good many years accepted a relatively high proportion of refugees and migrants from poorer countries. Not nearly enough, though, to compensate for its demographic decline. The legality of migrants dominates discussion of how, and indeed whether, to accept them. Illegal migration is widely condemned, and at times severely sanctioned. Yet the distinction can be fuzzy and it’s not easy to measure either legal or illegal immigration. Some EU countries include foreign students among legal migrants, and others don’t. The host of variables means no precise European picture exists. Immigration figures also have to be balanced against those for emigration, and here again European governments’ statistics are far from consistent. Europe’s manpower pool is shrinking, even with the two million legal immigrants thought to arrive every year. If immigration remains at today’s levels, the EU’s present working age population of 240 million, counting in that of the UK, will by mid-century be down to 207 million. In spite of digitalization and the coming robot revolution, that translates into a disastrous shortage of young people available for employment. More than that, it means 33 million fewer taxpayers and consumers. If Europe’s populists and other anti-immigrant voices have their way and the flow of job-seeking newcomers is somehow halted, the economic consequences would be truly catastrophic. If today’s workforce is to shrink without more migrants to compensate for

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retirements and the slowdown in native-born young workers, the impact of removing 70 million jobs from the European economy can only be guessed at.

Making sense of youth unemployment Nowhere in Europe is the demographic outlook as grim as in Germany. Long before Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ‘wir schaffen das’ (we can do it!) welcome of a million Syrian and other refugees, Germany had quietly been laying plans to accept, and indeed encourage, more immigration. German policymakers’ overriding concern has been the lack of young people coming onto the labour market. Germany combines Europe’s lowest percentage of young people with its greatest number of pensioners. By 2060 there will be at least ten million Germans fewer than today. Some forecasts see its population of 82 million slipping to 65 million. If the UK again becomes as migrantfriendly as it was before the Brexit toxicity, Britain may well overtake Germany as Europe’s most populous country. Most European countries will, in the years ahead, need a substantial pool of employable young people if their economies are not to wither. But it’s hard to argue this case when public opinion sees youth unemployment as the problem. There are several answers to the argument that youth unemployment means Europe must resist immigration. To start with, it’s a false proposition because it is based on the assumption that millions of young people are condemned to longterm unemployment. Heretical though it may sound, joblessness among young Europeans was not nearly as severe as it appeared to be before Covid-19 struck. The pandemic has put millions out of work, but it’s a temporary phenomenon. The true picture is still that of the demographic deficit, and assessing the real nature of youth unemployment in Europe depends on which statistics are used. The EU’s Eurostat statistical service presents joblessness in two ways: the rate and the ratio. The rate is the number of


People Power

unemployed young people aged under-24 divided by the total number in that age group in the labour force, while the ratio calculates them as a proportion of the total youth population, which also includes those still in education. These two approaches paint very different pictures. School-leavers and university graduates coming onto the jobs market often take time to find something suitable, whereas their elders are more likely to be in a settled occupation. Most of the younger job-seekers do eventually find work, but in the tighter conditions of the past decade of austerity their ‘frictional’ joblessness – when they are between jobs – has looked high in comparison to far lower unemployment rates among 25–55-year-olds. The unemployment ‘rate’ suggests that up to half of all young people have no work. Greece, for example, has a rate of 50 per cent youth unemployment, but when expressed as a ratio that comes down to 13 per cent – high, but not catastrophic. Across the eurozone, average youth unemployment is about 20 per cent when expressed as a rate, but 9 per cent as a ratio. Politicians and the media prefer to talk about the rate of youth unemployment because it’s so much more dramatic than the ratio. In any case, the most revealing statistic of all is the length of time someone is out of work, and while that lengthened after 2010 as a result of the economic crisis and austerity policies, it has since been shortening significantly. A second crucial point is that discouraging younger migrants from coming to Europe in search of work makes no sense. Although some antiimmigration voices suggest that youthful job-seekers from outside Europe should be barred because they compete ‘unfairly’, this notion of there being a fixed number of jobs for which younger people must compete is the hoary old ‘lump of labour’ fallacy. Economists have long derided it because it’s based on the absurd idea of there being a finite number of jobs to be divided up between people in the active labour force. Based on this obviously flawed notion, the anti-migrant argument is that each newcomer from abroad ‘steals’ work that could be done by a native.

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There are complex and unresolved questions over whether cheaper migrant labour drives down wages, and these are examined elsewhere, notably in Chapter 8. A key point is that these new job-seekers are also consumers, and a dynamic force that helps to expand the overall economy and thus increase the volume of jobs to be done. More people in the workforce means more jobs, and that fuels economic growth. The consequence of low fertility is Europe’s need for more young people, whatever their race or religion, both as workers and as parents-to-be. But the flow of young people coming onto Europe’s national jobs markets has been slowing for some time, and is getting worse. In the education sector, the falling off of student numbers points to greater labour shortages to come. By 2025 there will be 10 per cent fewer students in Germany, with similar trends in other countries. Labour shortages were causing concern much concern before Covid-19 in hospitality industry sectors like hotels and restaurants, and increasingly in other services and in manufacturing. The pandemic’s lockdowns then paralysed activity in these sectors, resulting in unemployment that temporarily disguises the longer-term lack of available workers. Getting laid-off workers back into jobs in an economic depression is proving difficult. Before Covid-19, EU officials had been pondering the idea of creating ‘labour information points’ to report on manpower shortages in specific areas and sectors, and then to inform potential employees, including migrant job-seekers, of these opportunities. The case for this is stronger than ever.

On the threshold of radical change The basic structures of the European economy haven’t changed very much for decades, so it was hard even before the coronavirus struck to imagine the impact of ageing. Now it is harder still. Among the big questions addressed in later chapters are whether labour shortages can be compensated for by labour-saving robotics,


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and whether shrinking tax revenues from dwindling workforces will pay for soaring pension and healthcare costs. European countries’ sluggish productivity together with the ravages of depression make it doubly difficult to envisage ways that fewer workers in Europe can create the greater wealth needed to pay for ageing populations. Can migrants from African and Arab countries contribute enough to compensate for shrinking Europe’s shortcomings? Some pointers to the future lie in the past. A decade ago, people from the newly joined EU member states of Eastern and central Europe began to flood onto Western European labour markets. Often well-educated and multilingual, these young people quickly found work in bars, restaurants and hotels, and gave an important stimulus to those sectors. Before long, many of them moved on to more intellectual jobs in services and manufacturing. The arrival of the ‘Polish plumber’ highlighted shortages of artisanal and technical workers, and at lower levels, migrant labour from the EU newcomers filled seasonal farm and food processing jobs. Their value to Europe is unlikely to be replicated in the near future by migrants from Africa and the Arab world, who will not have had the same educational advantages. Nor will the next waves of migrants share Europeans’ cultural values and religious beliefs, even if most are willing to adapt to Europe’s requirements in exchange for brighter opportunities and better living standards. Discussion between Brussels and EU member governments is increasingly about how to legalize migration and make it more transparent and manageable. There are very real obstacles to this, but if handled intelligently and with sensitivity these newcomers could help restore momentum to the European economy. Some experts talk of a ‘circular’ approach that brings in job-seekers from Africa and elsewhere, trains them to fill jobs where there are manpower problems, and then after a period of, say, five to seven years, encourages them to return home and fuel the development of their native country. There are lessons to be learned from the EU’s controversial ‘Blue Card’ initiative a decade ago. First proposed in 2007 as a European

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version of the American ‘Green Card’ for people seeking work in the United States, the Blue Card aimed to attract highly skilled workers with the lure of EU residency. It soon became the target of angry criticism by African governments who saw it as an institutionalized brain drain designed to rob their countries of talent. More to the point, perhaps, are the difficulties of training raw recruits for any future EU migrant labour scheme. It’s all very well for EU and national officials to speak of a circular system, but this demands higher levels of education than are readily available, and ignores the likelihood that many young people will not want to go back home. The wider question is how to adapt existing training systems to cater for migrants with minimal education. When host communities in Germany were confronted in 2015 with the influx of refugees, their top priority was language teaching. They found it a tough challenge and concluded that the best way to resolve future migrants’ educational, language and skills deficiencies is to tackle them at source in their country of origin. A first step towards that would be to acknowledge those countries’ need of emigration as a source of foreign exchange. Remittances by migrant workers far outweigh the financial support those countries receive in the form of development aid. Their governments may pay lip service to plans for limiting migration, but in practice they see great disadvantages in doing so. Before the coronavirus pandemic, over a fifth of all recent migrants to Europe originated from Nigeria, which was deriving something like 2 per cent of its gross national income from remittances, according to UN and World Bank analysts. It was much the same for other West African countries, and for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, remittances in 2018 stood at $46 billion, much more than the $32 billion received in direct foreign investment. The financial pressures on migrants’ countries of origin caused by dramatic falls in remittances resulting from the coronavirus crisis are a shared problem, because the self-interest of wealthier European countries is to stabilize their southern neighbours in Africa and the


People Power

Middle East. After two months of lockdowns around the world, the World Bank had begun to warn of a $100 billion slump in migrant workers’ remittance flows that in 2019 had reached a record total of $554 billion. Maintaining remittances, or compensating for their dwindling size, has to be reconciled with European governments’ need to cut down on irregular migration and, at the same time, introduce a far clearer system of legal migration. The reality at present is a growing population in Europe of illegals who cannot easily be sent home because the EU doesn’t have readmission agreements with most sub-Saharan countries. When in 2016 almost half a million non-EU citizens were ordered to leave, only 3,000 Nigerians went home, along with comparably small numbers of Guineans, Ivorians and Gambians. It is vital to resolve this situation before it deteriorates further. The only replacement for remittances that might induce governments there to crack down on illegal migration is a ‘Turkey deal’ akin to the EU’s agreement with Ankara ending uncontrolled sea crossings to Greece. As that’s unlikely, what the EU should instead consider is a bargain with the fifty-five countries of the African Union encompassing their development needs and a requirement that migration be kept to manageable proportions. The African and Arab countries from which most migrants and refugees originate need much greater clarity if they are to engage with Brussels on a bargain that might lead to a structured approach to the north–south movement of people. They know that for all practical purposes the ‘Dublin Regulation’ lapsed in 2015, but need a clearer picture of how it might be replaced. Dublin is the rule, in place since 1997, that asylum could only be sought in the EU country a refugee first entered, but it broke down operationally under the weight of the refugee and migrant crisis of 2015. Disagreements between EU countries pose a serious threat to the passport-free movement of people within the 26-country Schengen zone. Hungary’s erection of razor-wire fences in 2016 to prevent refugees entering from Croatia was followed by the reintroduction of

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border controls by other EU countries, notably Germany and Austria, but also between Denmark and Sweden so that even their breathtakingly long shared Øresund Bridge – famous as a symbol of EU achievement and as the backdrop of a ‘Nordic Noir’ TV thriller series – was blocked for a while. To safeguard Schengen, the EU countries quickly agreed on opt-outs from the common migration and asylum rules of the 2007 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, whose provisions are more widely thought of as the Lisbon Treaty. The intricacies of EU treaty revisions are not particularly relevant here, but the important point is that the European Union’s attempt to foster solidarity on immigration rules was blocked before Covid-19, and now lies in tatters. Europhiles often say the EU emerges stronger from its crises. So perhaps coronavirus and the resulting economic depression will exert enough pressure on member governments to agree to a two-tier EU of countries that accept hard and fast rules for sharing out asylum seekers, and those that baulk at anything that isn’t voluntary. Asylum is only part of the wider immigration jigsaw. The different national rules and practices on migration are a bewildering muddle. In some countries, asylum seekers may work, in some they may not, and in others they must wait before seeking work. The rules and conditions governing economic migrants are just as perplexing. Quite apart from trying to cut the Gordian knot of different national rules, European policymakers should be taking a long, hard look at ways to harness migrant workers to the EU economy. Keeping them out is of far less value than capitalizing on their presence once they are in. Whether newcomers to Europe are educated or not, they have in common the drive and get-up-and-go spirit that overcame the obstacles in their way. The sooner they can earn their living, the better. Any red tape that prevents them from finding paid employment or setting up their own business should be shredded as part of a concerted drive to integrate them. When IMF researchers studied the 2015–16 refugee surge in Europe, they recommended measures that they said could turn it from a burden


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into a benefit with economic, social and fiscal advantages. They advocated temporary wage subsidies to encourage employers to take on migrant workers, and emphasized the importance of assessing their skills quickly and precisely.10 The IMF isn’t famed for putting complex problems in a nutshell, but its economists neatly summed up the salient arguments around immigration. ‘In the short term,’ they said, ‘the slow integration of refugees raises fiscal costs and could exacerbate social tensions. And in the longer term, a persistent lack of integration will raise government debt, worsen income inequality, and miss an opportunity to alleviate demographic pressures on social insurance schemes.’ This book aims to encourage a more constructive European debate on migration, and it does so at a time when the impact of the coronavirus-driven economic depression is upending global politics and economic relationships. It seems possible that the depression will be a catalyst that opens up hitherto politically paralysed attitudes. In the concluding chapter I urge policy measures that could move previously deadlocked migration issues towards a coherent European strategy. Europeans’ economic and social policies are in flux, making it harder than ever to argue against making migration central to new thinking and a more positive approach.


More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case

The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic risks reinforcing long-standing prejudices against immigration. Yet hard evidence shows that migration benefits both exporters and importers of human skills and labour. Comparing the fairly minor expense of migration to the mega-cost of an ageing population demonstrates why more migrants are needed, not fewer. The economics of migration bear little relation to its politics, as was illustrated when Europe’s national leaders met in the picturesque Austrian city of Salzburg in September 2018 to discuss a muchtrumpeted deal on immigration. Finger-pointing and political grandstanding were the unedifying features of this special summit, and set the tone for Europe’s increasingly negative attitude to migration. It also demonstrated a blindness to demographic trends that may prove disastrous as the twenty-first century unfolds and Europe struggles to recover from the postCovid-19 serious recession. That same week in September 2018 saw the publication of a largely unnoticed report underlining the benefits of immigration. While the EU leaders squabbled in Salzburg over ways to limit the numbers of economic migrants, the report’s chief message was that doing so amounts to a deliberate act of self-harm. This warning was only the latest in a stream of analyses pointing to the vital boost that migrants gave to Europe’s already sluggish economic growth. The authors were Citigroup bankers and Oxford University researchers led by Prof. Ian Goldin, and their report stressed the huge 49


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benefits the UK and Germany received from welcoming migrant workers. It emphasized that two-thirds of the United States’ economic growth since 2011 had been directly attributable to migration. It went on to say that if the UK had frozen immigrants’ numbers back in 1990 the British economy would be almost a tenth smaller. It was much the same story for Germany and other countries that have opened their doors to newcomers.‘Migrants are vital initial contributors to innovative and dynamic economies,’ the study concluded.1 If the Citigroup report and others like it have had little impact, that’s partly because the advantages of migration don’t immediately leap to the eye. There’s nothing new about this. When Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping visited Washington, DC in 1979, he was admonished by the then US President Jimmy Carter for not allowing more emigrants to leave the People’s Republic. Deng teasingly replied with what seemed more a threat than an offer: ‘Why, certainly, President Carter; how many millions would you like?’ Fast forward from then to the 1997 handover of Hong Kong back to China after 150 years as a British colony, and something comparable was on offer to the UK government. Almost a million well-educated and prosperous Hong Kong Chinese, about an eighth of its population, were eagerly considering a new life in Britain. But other than a comparative handful of millionaire business tycoons and their families, most were told they had ‘the wrong sort of British passport’, and the UK deprived itself of immigrants who would have been a huge asset. Fast forward yet again to mid-2020, and the British government began to talk of reviewing the status of those passports as a riposte to Beijing’s perceived flouting of its handover treaty obligations. In economic terms, immigration is a win–win proposition for all concerned. It’s almost an iron law of economic governance that a country’s growing labour force delivers a rising GDP, and a shrinking labour force spells economic doldrums or worse. Although the cost of absorbing newcomers places an upfront burden on the public purse, in the longer term it’s an investment that is amply repaid by an expanding economy.

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


The debate over whether migrants bring value to their host country or impose a burden therefore tends to be a contest between the emotional and the rational. Politicians who oppose pro-migration policies enjoy the emotional support of public opinion. Those who make the economic case in favour of admitting newcomers have the more difficult task of persuading voters with facts and figures. Germany offers a stark example of this. Angela Merkel’s opening of her country’s borders in autumn 2015 to more than a million refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries won her international acclaim as a humanitarian hero. Once the initial euphoria subsided, though, popular support for her initiative proved short-lived. Resentment against the arrival of so many migrants cost Chancellor Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union party dearly in the general elections of September 2017. Yet most German economists were in no doubt that Merkel’s decision will crucially benefit the country’s future. Marcel Fratzscher, who heads one of the country’s leading research bodies, the DIW Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, declared that the likely cost of €10 billion to Germany’s taxpayers would pay off handsomely within ten years, and perhaps only five. The depressing effects of Germany’s ageing and shrinking population have been a major concern for some time. By 2025, the country’s workforce will have shrunk by 4.5 million people from its present level of 39 million, dealing a heavy blow to business and industry, and also hitting consumption. Above all, Germans had been concerned that this demographic shift would see a sharp rise in pension and healthcare costs. Other experts quickly echoed Fratzscher’s reassuring pronouncement that the influx of refugees and economic migrants would represent an immediate cost of little more than 0.3 per cent of German GDP. Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, David Folkerts-Landau, commented that the newcomers ‘had the potential not just to invigorate our economy but to protect prosperity for future generations.’ Many of the refugees, who during the summer and autumn months of that year had trudged from the beaches of Greece up through the


People Power

western Balkans to reach Germany, were almost ideal newcomers; overwhelmingly youthful, and often well educated. As the head of Germany’s Institute for Employment Research, Joachim Möller, put it: ‘Because the majority of them are under-25, there’s a lot of potential there.’ Angela Merkel’s breezy response to the influx, ‘wir schaffen das!’ (we can do it), came back to haunt her. Resettling so many people created serious upheavals and triggered a new political volatility. This combined with a hitherto unsuspected mood of Euroscepticism; German taxpayers’ support for the EU had been weakened by what they saw as unfair financial demands by countries like Greece caught up in the sovereign debt crisis. Germany’s worried planners and policymakers know that falling birth rates and lengthening lifespans constitute the greatest threat to the economy, and eventually to the social fabric. German technocrats and senior managers look enviously at Britain’s ability to attract migrants, knowing that at some point around mid-century the UK is set to overtake Germany and become Europe’s most populous country. Much will depend on the degree to which Brexit chokes off the flow of migrants to the UK. Twenty years ago, Germany’s state-backed GIZ development agency, based just outside Frankfurt, launched a recruitment strategy to turn those forebodings into practical action. It brings young women from several Asian countries to train as nurses and, after they have worked for a time in the German health sector, GIZ returns them home with a substantial cash lump sum. The value that Germany places on immigrant labour is shared by many planners elsewhere in Europe, but seldom by the general public. Controversial – not to say unpopular – though immigration is in many countries, the expert consensus is that it is increasingly vital. Four-fifths of the richest and most powerful countries grouped in the G20 face population shrinkage, and are aware they must compensate for this in one way or another.

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


The economic evidence is unambiguous It’s not enough that an overwhelming body of evidence favours immigration for economic reasons. Ranged against these are the difficulties of assimilating migrants into Europe’s centuries-old social structures, and thus of overcoming some formidable political hurdles. At the local level, voters tend to be indifferent to macroeconomic arguments. Well-founded suggestions that the effect of Britain’s increased immigrant workforce was to push its growth rate substantially higher than those of continental EU countries did nothing to dampen pro-Brexit fervour in the run-up to the UK’s mid-2016 EU membership referendum, or to then secure a confirmatory plebiscite. Similar antiimmigrant sentiments are doing much to redefine political landscapes elsewhere in Europe. When economists at the OECD looked at the costs and benefits of immigrant labour, they came out unhesitatingly in favour of the benefits. Even at the lowest point in the post-2008 global economic crisis, their study of the worth of immigrants in terms of their tax contributions found that they consistently added around 0.3 per cent to the GDPs of OECD countries.2 An analysis in 2016 by McKinsey, an international management consultancy, looked at likely developments by 2025, and found that the immigrants now established in Europe are going to be a substantial bonus. Its in-house think tank, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), reported that within a decade the immigrant influx of 2015–16 will be contributing around €65 billion every year to the overall EU economy, whose GDP was at that time expected to reach €20 trillion. That was before Covid-19, so along with most projections it is fraught with uncertainty. So too, is estimating the added value of so many immigrants. The MGI analysts hedged their bets with high and low forecasts; the former amounted to a yearly economic bonus of €67–€76 billion if the largely Syrian influx delivers a high proportion of graduates onto the EU workforce, but a lower contribution of


People Power

€55–€63 billion a year if difficulties of integration mean that when they are of working age the bulk of the newcomers turn out to be less qualified.3 In the UK, the pros and cons of migrant labour soon became inextricably part of the country’s confused Brexit debate. Yet well before the EU membership referendum, the British government’s Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had assessed migrants’ positive impact on the UK economy. It found that for 2001–11 the tax contributions of workers in Britain from other EU countries had outweighed the social care and health benefits paid out to them by £20 billion. Migrant workers from outside the EU had made a net fiscal contribution of £5 billion during the same period.4 The key point here is that new blood is essential, not just to the UK but to the European economy as a whole. Just as migrants mean economic growth, whatever the social and electoral consequences, an absence of migrants means lower growth and falling living standards. The implications of today’s 4:1 ratio of workers to pensioners shrinking by mid-century to 2:1 are nightmarish. The twentieth century yardstick of good government and social progress was low unemployment, and the huge surge in joblessness created by the coronavirus crisis has highlighted this. Despite the structural nature of unavoidable future labour shortages, political debate is now firmly fixed on getting native Europeans back into work. But policies to combat unemployment cover a multitude of issues, ranging from whether social security benefits act as a magnet encouraging unemployment to other questions like those about child support and housing. These benefits are crucially important to the way EU countries are exemplars of a caring society. Political leaders can point proudly to the fact that the EU, with less than 7 per cent of the global population, accounts for half of all spending on social benefits. The challenge as they struggle to exit from the Covid-19 depression is to stimulate employment today while also bringing in extra manpower for tomorrow.

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


Shrinking workforces mean shrinking economies Governments therefore need to convince public opinion that labour shortages are a very real threat, despite the mass unemployment that is the most visible feature of the coronavirus-driven recession. That will demand an abrupt change of message as they have failed to explain this for more than a decade, even though the writing has been on the wall. German economist Klaus Regling warned as long ago as 2006 that the dwindling of the EU’s workforce will brake economic growth. Before he left a top job at the European Commission to become head of the European Stability Mechanism, a key part of the eurozone’s bail-out arrangements, Regling set out his thinking in the policy journal Europe’s World. Focusing on the richer Western EU-15 countries, he argued that from 2010 to 2030, increasing labour shortages would limit average annual growth to around 1.8 per cent, and from 2030 to 2050 that ‘ceiling’ would reduce growth to only 1.3 per cent. At time of Regling’s warning in 2006, the collective GDPs of the EU-15 had been growing at a yearly rate of 2.3 per cent. Statistics of this sort rarely attract enough media attention to fuel political controversy. Politicians nevertheless need to understand these underlying economic trends if ageing is not to condemn future generations to stagnation and impoverishment. Political discourse is increasingly at odds with economic common sense, with Britain arguably offering the starkest example of how migration has been deepening the divide between practical economics and populist politics. Resentments over immigration probably tipped the scales in the mid-2016 Brexit referendum; somewhat counter-intuitively, antiimmigrant feelings were more pronounced in those UK regions where immigration had been fairly minimal. Observers of Britain’s economic performance in the decade leading up to the Brexit vote seem agreed that the steady influx of migrants, many of them low-wage manual workers from newcomer EU states, helped to make the UK more buoyant economically than its continental competitors.


People Power

The surge of migrant workers was a godsend for many British employers in sectors like agriculture, food processing and light industries. It compensated for the alarming drop in the UK’s nativeborn workforce that has seen the imbalance between over-65s and working age people grow dramatically. Known as the ‘dependency ratio’, which had stood in post-war Britain at a healthy 5.5 workers per retiree, it had by 2015 sunk to only 3.5. That fall in Britain’s available workforce came into sharp focus when the coronavirus prevented seasonal agricultural workers from arriving in Britain in the spring of 2020 to pick fruit and process vegetables. The UK government issued pleas to people made jobless or temporarily furloughed as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns to take up the work of the missing migrants. It is far too early to say how and when post-coronavirus labour markets across Europe will be stabilized, but the shift in Britain’s dependency ratio is just the start of a dramatic trend because the first half of the twenty-first century is to see a doubling of the over-65s in the UK and a quadrupling of the over-85s who will impose a substantially greater burden on already strained healthcare and social services. As to the active workforce in the UK, the ageing trend is so serious that there will need to be twice as many people in work just to maintain the present dependency ratio of 3.5 workers per retiree. These dry-as-dust statistics risk disguising unsustainable financial costs. The UK government’s OBR has said that without more immigration to boost the workforce and help pay for ageing, public debt will by mid-century increase to ‘Greek levels’; in other words, its present uncomfortably high level of 75 per cent of GDP will by 2057 have soared to 175 per cent. The sort of immigration levels evoked by the OBR’s largely independent analysts will be unwelcome to many British politicians on both the right and the left. To keep debt at 75 per cent of GDP, net migration must remain at around its present level of a quarter of a million people yearly. If it were to drop to the Conservative Party’s longheld target of under a hundred thousand, then Britain’s public debt

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


would rise to 125 per cent of GDP, about the same as for Spain, Portugal and Italy. Some forecasters paint an even darker picture. The UN calculated that for Britain to keep its dependency ratio at the level that it was precoronavirus, net migration into the UK would have to run at a million people a year. Discussion of migration in the UK has long been vexed; most recently by the Brexit debate and also by long-standing prejudices. In 1995, when net UK immigration was less than 100,000 people a year, opinion polls found a two-thirds majority demanding substantial cuts. When Theresa May became prime minister in July 2016, she repeated the calls she had made during the previous six years when she was Home Secretary for tighter limits on immigration. A scathing comment on the May government’s hard-line approach came in a Financial Times leading article. ‘If ministers’ overriding goal is to cut numbers, so be it. But Home Office officials are not well placed to judge which migrants the economy needs. Instead, the government should let employers decide, at a price. A flat annual fee to be paid for each non-UK worker – perhaps with exemptions in areas such as health and education – would ensure that employers hire at home where possible.’ It’s difficult to make sense of Britain’s migration discussion for a variety of reasons. The absence of identity cards makes it harder than in most EU countries to track people’s movements, and the inclusion of foreign students swells the immigration figures. Confusion between migrants from outside Europe and job-seeking EU nationals adds to these complications, but the bottom line is that two-thirds are Europeans. Of the 330,000 people who came to the UK in 2015 to find work, 225,000 were from another EU country. The UK government’s lack of clarity over EU citizens’ right to remain has done nothing to clarify the situation. Figures such as these are the subjects of endless disputes because they look suspiciously like officialdom’s guesswork. The UK Border Agency is so underfunded that often it isn’t clear when there are multiple entries, exits and re-entries by the same people. The Home


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Office (despite the Windrush scandal over wrongful deportations of Caribbean immigrants) also has an unimpressive record of failing to find and repatriate people whose asylum applications have been turned down or work permits revoked. Calculating net figures is guesswork, but what seems broadly correct is that immigration has helped to push Britain’s population to just over 65 million, and that, in contrast to most parts of continental Europe, it’s still set to grow. The total number of EU nationals working in the UK is put at 2.1 million people, representing 6.8 per cent of the workforce, up sharply from 2.6 per cent ten years before. Until the coronavirus, they ranged from seasonal farmworkers to financial whiz-kids in the City of London. French financial services workers alone number 6,000, making up just part of the foreign banks and specialist financial operations that outnumber the purely British institutions within the ‘Square Mile’ that is London’s financial district. Anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK has possibly been one of the earliest – and certainly the least expected – casualties of Covid-19. The outpouring of admiration and gratitude of British public opinion for the estimated one million migrants employed in the hospitals of the National Health Service (NHS) saw a remarkable change in popular attitudes. The higher mortality rate recorded among doctors and health workers from ethnic minorities turned these often underpaid and hitherto unappreciated health professionals into national heroes. For all that, fears that future waves of immigrants will compete for jobs with newly unemployed Britons is liable to contribute to continued hostility. This will be fuelled by the bitter divisions over Brexit that will plague the country for years to come. If Brexit turns out to mean substantial reductions in the country’s non-British population, that will entail considerable costs within the UK as well as to other parts of Europe. EU nationals who have taken advantage of free movement to work in the UK sent home remittances equivalent to $25 billion in 2015. This transfer of wealth to poorer communities in central and Eastern Europe is on a par with funding from the EU’s structural funds, which support economic development and reduce inequality across Europe. A

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


Bulgarian seasonal worker in Belgium told reporters that the €150 she earns daily equals half the minimum weekly wage back home. As to the British economy, the likely losses of manpower if immigration is stemmed risk causing major disruptions. The first taste of this came in 2017 with the downturn in seasonal migrant workers from EU countries caused by Brexit-related uncertainties. British farmers complained bitterly of unpicked seasonal crops that were lying rotting in the fields. Then came Covid-19 and the lockdowns that prevented several million seasonal agricultural workers from travelling to European farms and orchards in 2020. Poland, which despite the anti-migrant political rhetoric there, imports 1.3 million Ukrainian farmworkers every year, was among the first to feel the impact. Holland’s horticulturalists had to destroy a major part of their tulip exports, and Germany hurriedly lifted its health ban to allow the entry of 80,000 emergency pickers. The same story was heard right across Europe, with farm lobbyists urging governments to relax restrictions immediately. Italy lacked 250,000 migrant fruit pickers and France, 200,000. Some governments appealed to unemployed younger people, and the UK launched a ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign to compensate for the 70,000 seasonal migrants who came mainly from Eastern and central Europe. The response was just 150 people, many of whom reportedly left within weeks. Reliance on migrant labour extends far beyond agriculture. Employers in manufacturing and retail sectors now advertise frantically to make up for the missing workers. In the UK, Brexit is aggravating the situation. Sectors like healthcare are the most concerned of all because a third of the 10,000 consultant physicians and specialist surgeons in NHS hospitals hail from other European countries.

Manpower shortages are far from just a British ailment Germany, in contrast to the UK and despite the political tensions created by the 2015–16 refugee influx, well understands its need to


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counter the effects of ageing. In France, although the politics surrounding immigration can be explosive, the country’s relatively buoyant birth rate has meant that until recently governments could be more relaxed about the size of the workforce. Generous family allowances kept the birth rate above 2 children per woman until 2014, although by 2017 the fertility index had slipped to 1.88. That shift followed a decision by socialist President François Hollande’s government to cut back on the allowances. If alarm bells over the consequences of low birth rates continue to be fairly muted in France, they ring loudly in Spain, Portugal, Greece and, above all, Italy. The fertility rate in Italy is only 1.34 children per woman, and the country’s indigenous population is shrinking by a quarter of a million yearly. The more alarmist demographers there warn that by 2080 ‘Italians will be a minority in their own country’, providing migration compensates for the infertility of the natives. If not, and immigration were to be reduced to zero, the country’s population will by then be halved. The EU’s newer members in central and Eastern Europe also have severe demographic headaches. Culturally, and therefore politically, these countries are the least open to immigration, yet in many cases they are suffering the seriously adverse effects of ageing and emigration. Their collective population has dropped by 6 per cent, 18 million people, since the 1990s. The Baltic states more than most suffer from an exodus of welleducated and often highly entrepreneurial young people in search of work elsewhere. Latvia’s working age population has shrunk by a quarter since the beginning of this century, and by 2030 it expects the dependency ratio of over-65s to have gone from 3.3:1 today to only 2:1. By that time, the emigration of younger Latvians will have reduced the country’s per capita GDP by 3 to 4 per cent from its 2017 level. Attracted by greater opportunities and higher salaries elsewhere in Europe, a third of Latvian graduates now leave their homeland. It’s a similar story in other EU newcomer countries; a Bulgarian survey of its medical students found that 80 to 90 per cent plan to

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


emigrate once they qualify as doctors. These manpower drains are a direct result of the EU’s cherished freedom of movement, and are shaping to be a serious hindrance for former Soviet bloc countries that at first embraced it. Hungary, for instance, has acknowledged that despite its resistance to accepting refugees as part of EU burden-sharing schemes, it needs a quarter of a million migrants to fill the widening gaps in its labour force. When the IMF studied the situation in the EU’s formerly communist member states, it concluded that ‘in some eastern European countries emigration between 1999 and 2014 reduced annual GDP growth by between 0.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent.’ And forecasts for the years ahead tell much the same story; emigration and ageing mean that per capita GDP in Romania, Bulgaria and some if not all of the Baltic states will be 3 to 4 per cent lower than at present.5 The United States provides the strongest economic case of all for boosting immigration, even though President Trump has exploited the antipathy of some American voters to migrants, especially from Mexico and Latin America. The benefits have been enormous there, and will continue to be so. America’s population is currently a shade over 320 million, and is projected by the US Census Bureau to rise to close to 420 million by 2060, guaranteeing an enviable supply of young people to fuel its economy. Some of America’s positive demographic outlook results from higher birth rates among immigrants, but it owes more to the continuing arrival of newcomers. Forty million people who were holding down a job in the United States before coronavirus were born outside the country; that’s over 16 per cent of the workforce and represents a sharp increase from only 10 per cent some twenty years earlier. Foreign-born workers include the Indian-born CEOs of both Microsoft and Google, to say nothing of the scientists and electronics wizards reputedly responsible for half of Silicon Valley’s world-beating innovations. American economist J.K. Galbraith summed up the value of migration some years ago, when he wrote: ‘Migration is the oldest action against poverty . . . It is good for the country to which they go; it


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helps break the equilibrium of poverty in the country from which they come. What is the perversity in the human soul that causes people to resist so obvious a good?’

Without migrants, who will pay for pensions? It may be that new technologies will disrupt, perhaps even trash, many of today’s assumptions about workforces and economic output. Manufacturing jobs have been shrinking dramatically on both sides of the Atlantic, with increased output per worker in large part compensating for that. America’s manufacturing output per person has doubled over the last thirty years, leaving Europe’s productivity to lag well behind. The clear message is that skills and added-value are as important, if not more, than grossed-up workforce sizes. That’s not true of the pensions challenge. Somehow or other, Europeans will have to finance their fast-growing communities of the retired. Pension funds are already under severe strain and risk eventual bankruptcy. Productivity improvements will have to be accompanied by almost unimaginable profitability increases if EU countries and companies are to meet their pension obligations. Europe’s low ‘replacement ratios’ – in other words, the lack of children – are only one side of the equation, the other is longer lifespans. In their book The 100-Year Life, British authors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott drew some alarming conclusions from increased longevity. They reckon that anyone in a fairly rich country who is now over 60 has a good chance of hitting 90, and half of today’s newborn babies will live to 105. In pension terms, this means young Europeans now starting their working lives will need to put more than a tenth of their income into pension savings, but still won’t be able to retire comfortably until they are 85 years old.6 When state pensions were first created in late nineteenth-century Germany by its ‘Iron Chancellor’, Otto von Bismarck, an industrial worker who made it to 65 would in all likelihood live only a few years

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


beyond retirement. Since then, pensions have relied on there being far more people in work than in retirement. The trend since the 1980s towards earlier retirement that was labelled as the ‘Leisure Revolution’ has seriously upset this balance. The Paris-based OECD notes that although governments have been trying to reverse that trend and raise the pensionable age back to where it had been before, it won’t be until 2030 that the retirement ages of 1950 – just under 65 for men, and 63 for women – are restored. ‘Today’s retirees,’ says an OECD report, ‘are living through what might prove to have been a golden age for pensions and pensioners.7 Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research sees the situation more bleakly still. ‘Industrialised economies have been caught flat-footed, unprepared for the cost of providing retirement income for so many, for so long,’ say its analysts who, after comparing relevant statistics from 1900 onwards, observed that nowadays ‘72 is the new 30.’8 How Europe’s cash-strapped governments are going to pay for ageing is a mystery that politicians prefer not to discuss. For skilled people, the knowledge economy offers plentiful opportunities to keep working, so the ranks of ‘Owls’ (Older, Working Less, Still earning) are expanding fast. In Britain, twice as many people continue working after the age of 65 than twenty years ago. Pensionable workers now make up a tenth of the UK’s active workforce. But non-retirement can make only a small dent in the overall problem. While the more socio-economically privileged can choose to be Owls, lower skilled people with lesser qualifications are not so fortunate. They won’t find work so easily when they are older, and are less likely to have a private pension to fall back on. The digital revolution is going to aggravate the problem. It is already starting to have an impact on labour markets, with researchers in the United States reporting that men without a college degree who have been made redundant stand only a one in six chance of landing a new job. What all this appears to add up to is a massive 10 per cent hole in many governments’ budgets. The OECD’s bottom-line conclusion is


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that by 2060 the gap between average pension contributions and costs will be equal to a tenth of its richer member countries’ GDPs. These are breathtaking figures for a Europe that even before Covid-19 was being buffeted by the pressures of globalization. They also underline what seems to be a fundamental flaw in the general assumption common to many forecasts that economic growth in this century will adhere to the same pattern as in the twentieth century. The post-Second World War model has been that growth depends on output, and that output reflects the number of people in work. That holds true for a country’s tax base – more workers means more revenues to fund public services – but it’s not certain that it will hold true for adding value and competing in the wider global marketplace. Migrants have generally been thought to enhance a country’s productivity because they often contribute youth, drive and skills. A prominent UK economic analyst, Jonathan Portes of King’s College, London, commented after reviewing several international studies: ‘Looking across cultures, immigration had a large positive impact on GDP per capita – primarily by raising total factor productivity.’ Prof. Portes’ recent book, What do we know and what should we do about immigration?, concentrates chiefly on the British scene, and makes a very cogent case for immigration’s economic value.9 But what if the newcomers lack the skills to add value? What will the picture look like if poorly educated immigrants from Africa and the Arab world arrive en masse at a time when the digital revolution is increasing employers’ demands for sophisticated new skills? The economic case for welcoming more migrants appears to rest to a large extent on the assumption that future waves of job-seekers from non-EU countries will be more or less comparable to those from Eastern and central Europe who took advantage of the EU’s freedom of movement to find higher wages in Western Europe. It is unlikely that this will be the case, especially for economic migrants from Africa. This doesn’t necessarily mean less skilled migrants will be a burden. Before the coronavirus crisis and its aftermath shook European labour markets to the core, the signs were that new job opportunities were

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


being created at least as fast as some of the more traditional occupations were disappearing. In the UK, around half a million new job vacancies were forecast by 2022 in the social care and health sectors, with migrants from beyond the EU expected to fill many of them. The picture is rather different in the construction sector because the 400,000 workers expected to retire by 2027 are likely to be replaced to some degree by greater automation. The snag for the UK and for EU countries is that once the dust of the coronavirus crisis has settled, Europe’s longer-term economic future will depend on whether productivity can be substantially improved. Bringing in more low-skilled, low-wage migrants won’t help to boost sluggish productivity growth, and may even exacerbate the problem. Although migrant influxes are unlikely to fix Europe’s productivity problems, they are certain to give an economic stimulus. If and when millions of newcomers arrive, they will have to be housed, trained and cared for. That means ambitious construction projects along with sweeping educational strategies to train language teachers and skills instructors for future migrants and refugees. Opponents of immigration often cite its immediate costs. Arguing in favour of tougher border controls, which would also be expensive, they choose to ignore the economic boost infrastructure projects can offer. As the new era of higher growth expected from the digital revolution has yet to materialize, future waves of newcomers seem more likely to recreate the demand-driven growth of post-war reconstruction. Building more houses, schools and hospitals to receive them, along with greatly improving public transport systems, could do much to revive growth. Swedish political scientist Bo Rothstein underlined this when he looked at his country’s impressive growth performance in 2016, the year in which immigrants were arriving in unprecedented numbers. Dismissing ‘accountant type’ economic thinking that considered only the upfront costs, Rothstein noted that Sweden’s growth that year had been around twice the OECD average, and four times that of the other Nordic countries.


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Large-scale immigration, he said, means ‘we are talking about new pre-schools and schools, expansion of the public health care sector, education centres for learning Swedish, housing programmes, immigration officers, vocational training and other “active” labour market programmes.’ He concluded that ‘this sort of “involuntary Keynesianism” may help to explain the current Swedish economic wonder.’

Where does Europe go from here? National economies in Europe have notably different characteristics, shaped by geographical size and population, by national histories and by their political cultures. What they have in common is that, to greater or lesser degrees, their future living standards and social stability will be determined by their handling of migration. This raises the highly sensitive question of whether EU member states should consider a common approach to economic policies when these concern migrant labour. If migration is going to be such a major element in the years ahead, should it not be seen as an important factor in the Union’s strategy of closer economic integration? And this inevitably raises the question of whether post-Brexit Britain will pursue its very separate course, or come around to a more collaborative approach. Brussels has so far limited its focus to burden-sharing schemes that encourage member states with smaller immigrant communities to open their doors to more refugees. The European Commission has been looking at ways to stem future influxes and select would-be migrants with useful skills, but has shied away from a common economic approach to migration. National governments resent encroachments on their sovereign powers, but the need for an EU-wide recovery strategy to escape from the depression may soften that. The implications of smaller workforces at a time of accelerating technological change are unclear, and are largely undiscussed. Just as

More Migrants, Please! The Economic Case


important are the social implications of a two-tier labour market in which the migrant workforce consists largely of people who are culturally different and have fewer skills and less education. That risks creating dangerously unjust imbalances in society at a time when greater social equity is becoming a powerful post-coronavirus rallying cry. These are profoundly unsettling social and ethical questions, and far-sighted answers to them are needed. Europe’s taxpayers will have to be convinced that rather than building ever-higher walls to keep migrants out, they should be investing more profitably in their future by rethinking their approach to immigration.



Making ‘True Europeans’ of the Migrant Millions

The economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis are aggravating political tensions everywhere, not least those around migration. The best way to integrate newcomers to Europe is the focus of lively debate; advocates of ‘assimilation’ argue that the way to confront anti-immigration sentiments is to integrate newcomers socially as well as economically. while others champion ‘multiculturalism’ and a more heterogeneous Europe. The small Belgian town of Mechelen is best known for three things: in mediaeval times it was for its lacemaking, more recently as a rundown, almost lawless place where the police were hesitant to patrol, and lately for a mayor who cleaned all that up and became an internationally recognized expert on how to integrate large numbers of immigrants. Bart Somers won the 2016 World Mayor Prize for his pioneering work on welcoming newcomers to his city and absorbing them into the local community. About a quarter of Mechelen’s 90,000 population are now Muslim, and in contrast to many other towns in Belgium and throughout Europe, are said to enjoy warm and frictionless relations with its native Flemings. A former minister-president at the head of the whole Flanders region, Somers returned to his birthplace as mayor almost twenty years ago when it was fiercely anti-immigrant and had an ailing economy. His response to racial tensions was firm policing, mixed schools even if that meant busing, and housing policies that avoided the creation of ghettos. Somers’ first step had been to stamp on police harassment of non-whites. With new arrivals still swelling Mechelen’s migrant population – ‘We’ve got 138 nationalities, and growing’ – Somers reckons that 69


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personal contacts are vital. He has developed what he calls speed-dating sessions at which native inhabitants meet newcomers and engage with them. Neighbourhood activities like barbecue parties and scout camps are encouraged, and Dutch language lessons are mandatory. The municipal authorities also engage in job-finding for newcomers. Somers stepped down in late 2019 from his mayoral duties, leaving behind him the proud boast that not a single member of Mechelen’s large Moroccan community had left to join the ranks of the Daesh fighters in Syria. In all, some 500 young Muslims in Belgium had done so, 200 of them from the nearby and broadly similar town of Vilvoorde. Industrial Vilvoorde lies on the northern outskirts of Brussels and has an even larger immigrant population, with 43 per cent of its inhabitants of non-Belgian origin. And although it is true that an alarmingly high proportion of its young Muslims went off to fight at the outset of the Syrian conflict, it’s also fair to say that, like Mechelen, the town has developed its own techniques for countering alienation and Islamic radicalization. More sensitive police methods and a blitz on creating warmer community relations have worked wonders; recruitment to Daesh and IS has dried up since May 2014. The contrast is stark between the positivity of Mechelen’s achievements and Vilvoorde’s efforts when compared with the failure of many parts of Belgium to integrate refugees and economic migrants. Not far from Vilvoorde, the Brussels commune of Molenbeek, separated from the city centre only by a canal, has become a byword for racial clashes and no-go areas. Labelled as a hotbed of Islamic terrorism because attacks in Paris and Brussels were planned there, Molenbeek is held up as a warning of the dangers of failing to integrate immigrants.

How should ‘integration’ be defined? What is meant by the blanket term ‘integration’, and how can it be achieved when Europe is such a mix of cultures, ethnicities and educational levels? And when we speak of integration, do we mean

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


non-European refugees and economic migrants only, or should European governments also aim to integrate EU citizens enjoying their right to free movement in search of work? There are arguably two forms of integration, the societal and the economic. Societal integration spans language, customs, social and sexual mores, education and politics. Economic integration is about getting people into work so they can contribute to wealth creation. Neither is straightforward, and there cannot be a rigid distinction when the two are so clearly interdependent. The attitudes of indigenous Europeans to newcomers are also becoming more complex. The movement of displaced people in post-war Europe later gave way to people coming to Europe in search either of political sanctuary or just a better life. Throughout the 1940s, when tens of millions of Europeans were uprooted by war, new communities of these exiles settled in a host country without provoking serious friction. At one point some fifteen million Germans found themselves displaced in Eastern and central Europe, chiefly by the redrawing of national frontiers and by the Iron Curtain. As these Europeans shared broadly common cultures and religions, those who could never return to their homes nevertheless found a place in their host country and created their own communities. This threatens to be a good deal harder in the coming years, especially for non-European newcomers. Many of the post-war newcomers in European countries were expected to stay temporarily, not to settle. Some were brought in for reconstruction projects or to plug gaps in the labour force, such as Italian miners in Belgium, Turkish gastarbeiter (guest workers) in West Germany or West Indians who came to Britain from the Caribbean. There seemed no need to devise ways of integrating them into local society, so ‘sink or swim’ was the nearest host countries came to having a policy. European governments came late to formulating integration policies of any kind. Such policies were chiefly born on the other side of the Atlantic. In the 1920s immigration authorities in the United States


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coined the term ‘assimilation’ when accepting immigrants escaping Europe in the aftermath of the 1914–18 Great War. This latest wave of newcomers was expected to adapt to the American way of life, bringing to an end the laissez-faire approach of the nineteenth century that had neglected language teaching and citizenship. Many sociologists now see assimilation as a dirty word, although they don’t always agree on how to define their preferred term of integration, or on the policies host communities should implement. Often held up as a model of enlightened thinking on immigration, Canada is proud of its official policy of ‘multiculturalism’, and critical of any approach that smacks of assimilation. Perhaps because it is itself riven by French and English language differences, Canada encourages immigrants to remain faithful to their native ways and cultures, providing this doesn’t threaten their commitment to Canadian society. Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, summed up this approach in early 2020 when explaining how ‘multiculturalism makes Canada strong’. She recalled, ‘I happen to be Ukrainian-Canadian. When I moved to Toronto I had an instant community of UkrainianCanadians.’ Freeland added that it’s the same ‘for Sikh Canadians. These networks are national.’ A former Financial Times journalist, Freeland explains that much of Canada’s demand for refugees has come from within civil society because groups of Canadians who share a common origin band together to sponsor more refugee families. This is a far cry from the approach of those Europeans who fear ghettoization and therefore emphasize that society should be as homogeneous as possible. In reality, most European countries have their own distinctly different ideas on integration, shaped by their indigenous cultures as well as those of the migrant communities they are host to. The increasingly volatile politics surrounding immigration mean that Europe’s national governments give varying degrees of priority to promoting integration. An interesting look at the differences between a multicultural approach to immigration and integration that amounts to

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


assimilation comes from a researcher in the United States who has been asking migrants how integrated they feel themselves to be. Ernesto Castañeda, a sociologist at the American University in Washington, DC, interviewed newcomers to Paris, Barcelona and New York for his book A Place to Call Home. He found immigrants to Barcelona, where the approach is multicultural, to be far more positive than in Paris, which is a model for France’s strictly ‘colour blind’ assimilation policy. Perhaps unsurprisingly because of its long-standing ‘melting pot’ culture, New York City scored highest with nine-tenths of interviewees saying they felt better off for being there. In both Paris and Barcelona, the same question produced scores of around 30 per cent. Prof. Castañeda makes the point that Barcelona’s tolerance of different cultures is greatly preferred by immigrants when compared to the Parisian insistence that newcomers adopt French values and manners. ‘Support for ethnic and race-based organizations of the sort that proliferate in Barcelona and New York is seen (in Paris) as antiFrench,’ he says. ‘As a result, immigrants in Paris typically practise their religion and cultural traditions in private. That isolates them from their neighbours, and prevents most native-born French from learning about these newcomers.’1 Whatever the pros and cons of multiculturalism and assimilation, there seems general agreement that there are four distinct phases of integration. Hartmut Esser, an influential German sociologist at Mannheim University, has advanced a structure in which phase one is ‘acculturation’, meaning learning the language and acquiring local knowledge and skills. That’s followed by ‘positioning’, which covers education, getting a job and somewhere to live. The third phase is ‘interaction’, which involves breaking away from a migrant’s closed, ethnic community and creating friendships (and perhaps marriage) with natives or within other migrant groups. Fourth and last is ‘identification’, in which immigrants have come to accept their host country’s values wholeheartedly. That final dimension thus passes the ‘cricket test’ proposed back in the 1980s by Norman Tebbit, one of Margaret Thatcher’s more


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xenophobic ministers, as the supreme definition of an immigrant’s loyalties: in a test match between England and a Caribbean eleven, which side would you cheer on to win? These distinctions are useful, but may seem theoretical when set against the challenges of integrating so many newcomers, especially those from Africa with comparatively few skills and low levels of education. In Germany, which continues to reel in many ways from the refugee influxes of 2015 and 2016, a more practical analysis suggests there is still a long way to go before Prof. Esser’s first phase will be accomplished. Stefan Bach heads a team of six researchers who began studying integration issues shortly after the first wave of mainly Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrived in Germany in 2015. ‘Two-thirds had never completed any sort of professional training,’ he commented. The findings of a joint study between Dr Bach and his colleagues at the DIW institute in Berlin and the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research show that education is key.2 Working on the basis that about half a million refugees – six-tenths of the 2015 intake – would stay in Germany because the others will either be denied asylum or will be so discouraged that they leave, the researchers concluded that educating and training them to become eligible for work is a very worthwhile investment. ‘Language and education integration measures that we’ve analysed will cost roughly €3.3 billion over the next few years,’ says Bach, ‘but the more professional training the refugees receive, the more they will earn. These higher incomes will lead to lower welfare expenditures as well as increased tax revenues.’ Very preliminary estimates put the longer-term financial benefit to Germany of integrating the 2015 intake at €11 billion. That’s based on the premise that half of those refugees will have found work within ten years of their arrival, rising eventually to some 70 per cent of them. That assessment is also thought to hold good for the second wave of refugees, numbering over a million, who came to Germany in 2016. Much the same calculations have been made by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the think tank offshoot of the worldwide

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


management consultancy. Before Covid-19 struck, it had foreseen a 0.3 to 0.35 per cent boost to the EU economy, worth €60–€70 billion, from the 2015 and 2016 influxes on the assumption that some 60 per cent of those refugees, most of them young males, will be gainfully employed by 2025.3 Many of Stefan Bach’s assumptions were shared by the authors of the MGI report, although the overall tenor of the MGI study was markedly less optimistic. Looking further ahead than the refugee and migrant surge, and of course in blissful ignorance of the coming coronavirus crisis, it emphasized that even when born in Europe, children in nonEuropean communities remain so poorly integrated that they underperform at school and are less likely to find a job, or if they do, they must accept a poorly paid one. ‘Integration outcomes of migrants in Europe tend to be unsatisfactory,’ warned the MGI report. Citing the OECD, it pointed out that a quarter of the children of immigrant parents lack basic reading skills at the age of 15, and that youth unemployment rates for them are almost 50 per cent higher than among young native Europeans.

The scale of the integration challenge Gloomier still are the warnings of one of the leading analysts of migration policy, Demetrios Papademetriou, who founded the Migration Policy Institute in Europe. ‘Automation and digitisation,’ he has said in a study conducted on behalf of several think tanks in Europe, including the UK’s Chatham House, ‘continue to make many lowskilled and repetitive jobs redundant, suggesting [migrants’] economic integration will get harder rather than easier as the labour market is transformed into a more unstable and competitive place.’ Looking on the brighter side, Papademetriou added: ‘There is also some good news. Many countries in Europe are old hands at the integration game, and the region can draw from rich collective experience and intelligence on what works.’ He suggested that while


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finding jobs for newcomers must be a priority, the social integration of people unable to work is nonetheless important. Papademetriou noted that European countries have had very different experiences of helping newcomers to settle in; Scandinavians’ high levels of social protection, for instance, make it harder for newcomers to find work. ‘The real test of integration is whether people live alongside one another harmoniously,’ he has said, adding that ‘failures [to do so] are very consequential when they manifest themselves in angry electorates, social unrest, or exclusion and marginalisation.’4 In the UK, an independent NGO called the Social Integration Commission has estimated that the proportion of people who are not ethnically British will by mid-century have risen to 38 per cent, up dramatically from 16 per cent in 2012. Talk of ethnic minorities can be a euphemistic way of discussing the Muslim population, leading to exaggerated notions of its size. The US-based Pew Research Center has tried to project the growth of Europe’s Muslim population, taking into account higher birth rates than those of native Europeans and at the same time estimating the effects of high, medium or zero rates of immigration in the years up to 2050. Currently, 26 million Muslims make up roughly 5 per cent of Europe’s population, and if migration, is kept within reasonable bounds that will rise to 58 million, or 11 per cent, by mid-century.5 Even a zero-immigration scenario would see a sharp rise in the overall Muslim population, rising by 10 million to 36 million, or 7.4 per cent of the total European population. The high end of Pew’s migration projections, meanwhile, which is based on the possibility of more conflicts or climate change pressures in the Middle East and Africa, foresees a staggering rise in the Muslim population to almost 76 million, about 14 per cent of all the people in Europe. Integrating newcomers on that scale looks daunting, and some might say impossible. Much will depend on the attitudes of native Europeans, even if the higher birth rates of immigrant communities make the definition of who is and isn’t a European increasingly debatable.

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


There’s some evidence that public opinion in Europe is far less prejudiced against migrants than is generally reflected in the media. A series of three Ipsos MORI polls carried out for the Anna Lindh EuroMediterranean Foundation found that over 70 per cent of people interviewed in thirteen EU and non-EU countries would have no objection to working with migrants and having them as neighbours. Nor would they object to migrants’ children attending the local school or marrying into their family. In an article published by the Friends of Europe think tank in Brussels, the foundation’s Paul Walton noted that the most welcoming respondents were found in France, Portugal and Tunisia. Under the headline ‘Forget the media’s hate. The true story is one of cultural convergence’, he wrote that the survey’s findings belie the image of the Mediterranean being riven by conflict over migrants and refugees.6 Europe has nevertheless seen a hardening of anti-migrant sentiment, fuelled not just by racism but also by concerns over different moral and religious practices. In addition, new mosques for growing Muslim communities are said to stir fears of Islamic fundamentalism. Educating public opinion to accept unfamiliar cultures therefore has to be made a more important part of host governments’ integration strategies. This sounds like common sense, but argument rages among experts on how to address deep-seated cultural divisions. In Britain, Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ government sought to emulate the American approach to promoting citizenship, and instead sparked a long-running and increasingly bitter controversy over the whole idea. The Blair government decided that its predecessors’ laissez-faire approach to immigration, and the tacit approval in the UK of multiculturalism, was failing to deliver the sort of social cohesion policymakers had hoped for. The UK government therefore swung towards the assimilation model and in 2002 introduced ‘citizenship tests’ that, as in the United States, involved swearing allegiance to Britain with pledges ‘to uphold its democratic values’. Criticisms of the tests focus in part on the flag-waving ceremonies involved, with some saying they are meaningless and ‘un-British’. The


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more convincing objection is that they have been an inadequate response to the widening divisions in British society. Advocates of a more assimilative approach believe that ethnic and religious minority groups are becoming so firmly established that they pose a challenge to the country’s core values. If it were held only by ‘Little Englanders’, this viewpoint might be discounted as overly conservative and backward looking. But its supporters include Sir Trevor Phillips, the highly respected and authoritative figure who for many years headed the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission. Sir Trevor’s parents emigrated from British Guiana in 1950, and he became one of Britain’s most influential advocates of racial equality. He has said the UK is ‘sleepwalking to catastrophe’ because of its acceptance of multiculturalism. Diversity is one thing, say opponents of multiculturalism, but not when it leads to ‘ethnocultures’. That way lie ghettoes, poorer schools, inbuilt language problems, religious intolerance and, at worst, radicalization and violence. At best, diminished job opportunities. In measurable terms, integration doesn’t seem to be working well, even in countries like France that have resisted multiculturalism and insisted on assimilation policies that theoretically are blind to race and religion. Almost a third of second-generation French migrants leave school with no qualifications and poor prospects of finding satisfactory employment. The picture varies from country to country and region to region, and between different countries of origin. French researchers have found that the children of Moroccan and Tunisian immigrants adapt rather better than those whose parents are Algerian or from the Sahel region. As to Asian immigrants, they outperform those from Maghreb countries in both educational and employment terms. The bottom line would seem to be that the most eye-catching aspects of social integration, or rather the lack of it, are the least important. Public attention, and therefore prejudice, tends to focus on outward features like sexual behaviour, clothing and religious practices. Sexual aggressions like the mass attacks on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015 made headlines around the world. The biggest factor isn’t

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


newcomers’ ignorance of Western sexual mores but the growing imbalance between young male and female immigrants. The solutions range from a drive by local authorities on sex education to a far more realistic European-level approach to admitting young Muslim women as immigrants. There is also a need to address the more controversial Islamic clothing customs. Burqas that cover the face are banned in some EU countries – notably France, Belgium and the Netherlands – and in some parts of the French Riviera the Burkini swimsuit that covers the whole of a woman’s body has also been banned. Headline-grabbing rows over headscarves, veils and other clothing questions highlight the cultural differences that make the integration of migrants so prickly. They also obscure the more important fact that European governments are not spending enough money on integration. Ensuring that migrant and refugee influxes are not a long-term financial and social burden, better methods of integration are needed to prevent the alienation of second and third generations. The underlying danger is that inadequate integration is building up dangerous pressures that may easily become uncontrollable. As Pakistani-born journalist Shada Islam has put it: ‘Europe’s focus is on Muslims as terrorists, refugees, foreign fighters, criminals and misfits. Often lost in the conversation is the fact that these represent a tiny fraction of the twenty million or so European Muslims. Damagingly, mainstream European political parties are emulating the strident antirefugee and anti-migration rhetoric of the far right, allowing Europe’s current debate to become increasingly toxic.’

Concentration or dispersal? The relocation dilemma ‘How’ to settle newcomers into European society is only half the integration question; ‘where’ is just as important. ‘It is not for migrants or refugees to choose where they go,’ said Dimitris Avramopoulos in early 2016 when he was the EU’s commissioner for migration. He was speaking in defence of the EU’s relocation scheme designed to ease the


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difficulties of Greece and Italy by redistributing more than a hundred thousand people to other countries. The EU plan was soon in tatters when a number of governments refused to accept Brussels’ quota proposals. Avramopoulos was in any case to be proved wrong on whether newcomers have the right to choose their destination. A few weeks after his uncompromising assertion, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that refugees cannot be forced to live in a particular place. The ECJ said that people who had been granted international protection should be free to live where they wanted within that country. The case before the court dated back almost two decades and related to Syrian asylum seekers at the turn of this century, but the ruling demolished official plans in Germany and elsewhere to impose residency restrictions for financial reasons. The court threw out Berlin’s argument that these restrictions were needed to spread newcomers out across the country in order to distribute financial costs more evenly between regions and cities. But it acknowledged that there could be residency conditions ‘for the purpose of promoting integration’. The initial location and possible relocation of refugees and economic migrants is a conundrum. Sociologists argue the respective merits of what they term the ‘spatial assimilation hypothesis’ – in plain language, the concentration of newcomers – and the ‘place stratification model’, which warns that concentration hinders integration. Common sense would appear to suggest that sprinkling newcomers out as evenly as is practicable makes it easier for them to fit in, learn the host country’s language and find a home and a job. That’s what Sweden opted to do back in 1985, and for ten years refugees were assigned to ‘initial settlement locations’. The Swedish authorities applied a range of criteria, including family reunification and the availability of work, to decide whether to impose a location or allow free choice. They might as well not have bothered, because when these policies came to be evaluated, experts concluded that they didn’t work anyway. Although Sweden has been famously open to migrants – it hosts one of the highest proportions of foreign-

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


born inhabitants of all EU countries – trying to plan where newcomers should settle failed in a number of ways. Many newcomers refused to stay put in designated destinations. Rather than try to build a new life for themselves in some remote part of rural, forested Sweden, they gravitated back to the cities. And those who remained mostly didn’t benefit in the ways that had been hoped for. As well as ‘poor socio-economic integration,’ remarked an independent study in 2015, ‘residential segregation may be a key factor in determining immigrants’ continued failure to integrate into the labour market.’ Sweden has thus shifted to allowing newcomers, once accepted, to settle wherever they want. This, too, has proved problematic. Concentrations of migrants can be a mixed blessing in Sweden as elsewhere. Södertälje, a manufacturing town 35 kilometres south-west of Stockholm, offers an interesting example of the different forces at play. It has become home to so many Iraqi and Syrian refugees that half of its 92,000 inhabitants are now foreign-born. Until waves of mainly Assyrian Christian refugees from those two war-torn countries began to arrive, Södertälje’s chief claim to fame had been its status as headquarters of the Scania truck manufacturer and the site of a giant AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals factory. Today, it’s more a test bed of Sweden’s liberal immigration policies. On the plus side, new arrivals find it comparatively easy to get work through a support network that helps them into casual labouring or unskilled jobs. Much less positive is that their integration into Swedish society is a fading dream. One of Södertälje’s districts is called Ronna, and it has become so heavily migrant that only 2 of the 750 children in its local school are classified as ethnically Swedish, defined as both parents being nativeborn. Its headmaster, Henrik Ljungqvist, has commented that ‘even before they finish school they have this picture of themselves as losers. They mainly interact with people from a similar background.’ Sweden’s abandoned policy of dispersing immigrants, and its subsequent experience of allowing them to concentrate, underlines the


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difficulties facing authorities right across Europe. The spectre of migrant communities developing on a similar scale to Södertälje where the national language is little spoken and barely understood stands as a warning that a liberal laissez-faire approach, however well-intentioned, has worrying long-term implications.

Integration is less about ‘where’, more about ‘how’ There is no easy answer to whether or not migrants should form concentrated communities. What is plain is that the levels of investment in cash and resources are more important. Housing, schools, support services like language teaching, and regulations that encourage employment are the real keys to successful integration. Various dos and don’ts emerge from the different ways host countries and cities tackle the challenges of integrating newcomers. Many of the dos are obvious, even if far from universally practised. The first is to get newcomers into work as soon as possible. This is easier said than done, especially when all but three EU countries – Greece, Sweden and Portugal – either forbid or discourage asylum-seeking refugees to work while their application is being processed. And even economic migrants who have the necessary legal status can find it hard to walk into a job. They would benefit from a helping hand when and if that’s available. In Germany, the federal government’s agencies have been pioneering what are known as ‘one-euro jobs’ for refugees. These are being created in the charitable and non-profit sector with the help of local government authorities and offer entry-level posts of a type that doesn’t compete with private sector employers. Launched in mid-2016 as a three-year pilot scheme costing €1 billion, it aims to provide jobs for 100,000 people. Denmark and Sweden operate schemes that encourage employers to take on legal migrants by subsidizing four-fifths of their wages, up to a ceiling of €75 a day and for a period of no longer than two years. Research suggests that these schemes help to speed up refugees’ chances of securing a regular job.

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


Wage subsidies are a delicate area. The authors of a January 2016 IMF report entitled ‘The Refugee Surge in Europe: Economic Challenges’ cautioned against ‘inactivity traps’. They wrote: ‘Immigrants in Europe are more likely to be unemployed and rely on social assistance than native workers,’ adding that ‘wage subsidies make hiring immigrants more attractive to employers where entry wages are high . . . and could tilt the balance in favour of working as opposed to relying entirely on social assistance.’ The report observed that ‘currently in most EU countries the incentive to switch from benefits to working is weak, given high marginal effective tax rates.’7 Tinkering with the workings of labour markets is tricky. The IMF’s urgings that some aspects of employment protection should be rethought – notably minimum wage levels – has provoked howls of protest from labour unions across Europe. Also controversial is the IMF’s suggestion that Germany and Austria should drop the obligation on employers to give preference to job applicants from within Europe. More straightforward is the need for European host countries to accelerate work placements by recognizing newcomers’ qualifications as quickly as possible. France, Finland and Norway have been streamlining their diploma checking and recognition systems, and Germany has earmarked a budget of €92 million for a new rapid assessment scheme. Around a quarter of the Syrian refugees there have a professional qualification of some sort, more or less the same proportion as native Germans, so absorbing them into the active workforce is a priority. But fitting newcomers into jobs in high-skill economies is easier said than done. In Sweden, where all but 5 per cent of jobs require at least a high school leaving certificate, only half of the immigrant population finds work within ten years of arrival. The cost of paying out social benefits to unemployed migrants there is becoming so onerous that these are being severely reduced. There are nevertheless a good many measures that can stimulate job creation within immigrant communities. One is to tackle the difficulty new arrivals face in some European countries when they try to open a


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bank account. When the first wave of refugees from Syria and elsewhere arrived in Germany in 2015, they found that the banks’ bureaucratic procedures prevented them from having an account, yet without one they were non-persons. As many as 300,000 were stuck in a legal limbo because of anti-money laundering rules and laborious identity checks. As well as sweeping away needless barriers, host countries should help new entrepreneurs. Start-up funds and microfinance for businesses in migrant communities would make a valuable contribution, as would better databases for matching would-be employers with job hunters. But when the German software giant SAP suggested creating a skills register, the idea was squashed by politicians who feared it would attract more migrants.

Is it the economy, stupid? No, it’s education Many of the barriers to integration boil down to education. The lack of professional and language skills often keeps migrants from penetrating the cultural walls around European society. Until educational shortcomings are addressed, Europe will have to contend with a heavy burden of inactive and alienated newcomers. Michael Spindelegger, a former Austrian foreign minister who heads the Vienna-based International Centre for Migration Policy Development, believes that common EU-wide vocational training standards are an important part of the solution. National immigration systems, he says, ‘do not provide enough measures to address the existing skills mismatch.’ The chances of getting EU member governments to agree on a shared training scheme seem remote when they are so divided over all other aspects of immigration. But the sophistication of European jobs markets makes it plain that failure to get a grip on migrants’ education and training will be extremely costly. Thomas Liebig at the OECD’s international migration division has pointed out that Sweden’s determined efforts to develop advanced

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


migrant integration policies risk foundering on the rock of education. He believes its two-year programme to make refugees ‘job-ready’ is too long for educated refugees and too short for the semi-literate ones, of whom only a fifth or so have found work within a year of finishing the course. Realistically, it looks to be too late to make good the educational shortcomings of many adult migrants and refugees from African or Arab countries. Their future employment is likely to be in unskilled or semi-skilled occupations. The most profitable investment would instead be in the children of migrants. Yet it’s fair to say that so far most second- and even third-generation immigrants have not received educations on a par with the children of native Europeans. Sweden again provides an example; although it spends 6.8 per cent of its GDP on education, as against the OECD average of 5.6 per cent, its surprising decline towards the bottom of the OECD’s assessment of science and literacy levels is blamed on the weak performance of immigrants’ children. The solution is probably to bus children to and fro across towns so that underprivileged immigrant communities don’t remain saddled with sink schools. The Danish city of Aarhus, for instance, doesn’t allow its schools to have classes with more than 20 per cent immigrant children. Sticking to that balance isn’t easy in a country whose foreignborn population has expanded so rapidly in recent years – rising in Copenhagen from 11 per cent of the capital’s inhabitants in 2004 to over 22 per cent today. Busing schoolchildren, however, means head-on confrontations with anti-migrant public opinion. Governments and local authorities would have to refute criticisms that standards will automatically fall once there are substantial numbers of migrant children in every classroom. The counter-argument is that without their influx the educational systems of many European countries are imperilled by demographics. The numbers of school kids in Germany had been due, until the 2015–16 migrant crisis, to shrink by a tenth over the coming decade, creating a potentially disastrous ripple effect throughout the education sector.


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How the private sector can help At first sight, the integration of refugees is a job for governments. Only they have the resources to shelter, feed and care for so many dispirited and needy people. But on second thoughts, governments are almost the least capable of helping people to find their way in a new country and settle down to a job. Private sector employers and private individuals are far better placed than officials to handle the myriad aspects of integration. And just as the sudden arrival of so many refugees saw heart-warming stories of welcome throughout Europe, the reactions of many businesses have also been positive and enlightened. Companies both large and small have been volunteering their expertise. They have also, as the newcomers’ potential employers, been pointing out the flaws and weaknesses of officialdom while proposing new ways of tackling old problems. Once the scale of the refugee influx was clear, a handful of major German corporations banded together to offer help. They doubtless had in mind Germany’s well-known demographic problem, notably the fact that the active labour force will by 2030 have shrunk by ten million people. It had also just been revealed that the country’s leading companies had found jobs for a mere fifty-four refugees. Called Wir Zusammen (We Together), the original 36 corporations included Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Post, and their number quickly grew to around 150, including over half of the household names that make up the 30 giants listed on the Dax stock market index. Quite how successful they’ve been, though, is debatable. Within six months of its mid-2016 launch, Wir Zusammen had secured full-time employment for some 550 refugees, 630 traineeships and 2,800 internships. And thanks to support from such members as Google and Germany’s leading business newspaper, Handelsblatt, the organization has developed influential communications strengths that reach out to public opinion with examples of how the newcomers are being welcomed and integrated.

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


Public support for the idea was encouraging, but in practice employers in Germany and elsewhere discovered that finding jobs for recently arrived refugees can be tough. Companies in both manufacturing and services look for very specific skills that are rarely found among the newcomers. Some employers also approached the challenge of hiring immigrants in a surprisingly unprofessional way. In the autumn of 2016, the OECD, in collaboration with the UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) found that potential employers often saw assisting migrant job-seekers as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities rather than as a straightforward hiring exercise. When carmaker BMW decided to hire Syrian engineers, it quickly discovered that this was easier said than done. ‘As a company, we believe we have an obligation to society,’ explained its personnel chief, Inga Jürgens. ‘That’s why we wanted to help 500 refugees to get acquainted with the German working world. Our plan was to start with fifty people, but we had a difficult time finding enough participants to fill all the slots.’ In the event, BMW filled only about half of these potential job vacancies, having found that inadequate language and technical skills weeded out many potential applicants. Almost as problematic were the cultural difficulties, commented Jürgens. ‘We had to explain to participants that in Germany it isn’t enough to send your brother in your place if you can’t come to work.’ The lesson major companies are learning is that newcomers can rarely be absorbed straightaway, and that the first step must be to organize educational courses. Siemens, which routinely has around 10,000 students in its in-house training schemes, is enlarging this to take on an extra 500 refugees. ‘We’re one of the largest training organizations in Germany,’ says Janina Kugel, Siemens’ head of human resources. ‘We can now make use of this experience to prepare refugees with suitable prior qualifications for their careers.’ The Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) that gripped Germany in 2015 when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the country’s doors was profoundly moving. The Bayern Munich football club set the mood


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by donating a million euros to charities for refugee children, and was followed by Real Madrid and then by more than eighty top European soccer teams. Money for charitable activities seemed to pour in from all sides, coming in dribs and drabs of a million here or two million there. But such heartfelt and well-intentioned handouts, though sizeable, quite soon proved to be inadequate when long-term spending must be measured not in tens but hundreds of billions of euros. The effervescent mood of those days has long since given way to a more realistic assessment of the refugees’ prospects. Aydan Özoğuz, Germany’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, has said that she expects between two-thirds and three-quarters of them still to be unemployed at the end of five years. Hamburg-born Özoğuz is also the deputy leader of the Social Democratic Party and typifies the new breed of Turkish-origin politicians coming to the fore in Germany. They are a symbol of hope that the children of immigrants can rise to eminent positions in German society, for in many cases their parents arrived as penniless temporary workers in the 1960s. Aydan Özoğuz reckons that many of the Syrian and other refugees will take up to ten years to find employment, and emphasizes that learning German and acquiring skills has to be the first step. ‘In the past, we put people very quickly into jobs where they didn’t need to speak, and forty years later people asked them – how come you still can’t speak German? We don’t want to repeat that mistake.’ Throughout Europe, smaller companies rather than industrial giants or hi-tech trailblazers are much more likely to find work for newcomers. So, it would help them if governments were to remove unnecessary barriers like complicated residence qualifications, work permits and lengthy asylum procedures. National authorities could share and adopt good ideas that would help to overcome the bureaucratic tangles that ensnare immigrants and require host countries to commit expensive manpower resources. An example of this is the MONI digital payments system that Antti Pennanen, a Finnish entrepreneur, has persuaded his country’s immigration service to pilot. Aimed at overcoming migrants’ difficulties

Making ‘True Europeans’ of Migrant Millions


in opening bank accounts and obtaining credit, MONI uses prepaid debit cards to enable users to create a digital trail that soon gets them into the banking system. Jouko Salonen of the Finnish Immigration Service has said that MONI could easily be scaled up right across Europe. Examples abound of other small-scale initiatives that could easily be replicated. NGOs, private citizens whose sympathies have turned them into activists, small-scale philanthropists and local communities have shown that Europeans’ response to migrant surges can be extremely positive. What’s needed, though, is to turn these random acts of support and kindness into something more systematic, and that in turn demands stronger support from host governments. Tax breaks seem the most obvious incentive officialdom could offer to private sector employers. Rather than subsidize immigrant-friendly initiatives, governments should introduce tax holidays for companies and other organizations that offer help in the form of jobs, training and housing. Subsidies require complicated form-filling and processing that impose administrative burdens on all concerned. Tax exemptions, on the other hand, fit easily into standard accounting practices. What such tax incentives could look like, and how they might fit into an overall EU-wide immigration strategy, is discussed in greater detail in the closing chapter of this book. The aim should be to offer financial support in a simple and uncomplicated manner at a time when Covid19’s economic shock is exacerbating the problems surrounding migration.



From Covid-19 to Ageing: Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors

Persistent fears of infection mean national barriers across Europe to exclude migrants will be higher than ever. Yet those walls can never be high enough to keep out significant numbers of people. The recent tailing off of the refugee floods of 2015–16 will be just a lull before the coronavirus pushes migrants northwards in their millions. Meanwhile, the Great Depression’s soaring joblessness can’t compensate for Europe’s long-term demographic decline. No one can say how many migrants will be heading for Europe in the coming decades. Until the coronavirus struck, immigration pressures were widely believed to have peaked; media reports suggested that the 2015–16 onslaught of some three million asylum seekers had, like a thunder storm in summer, stopped as quickly as it began. Few experts believed this at the time, and even fewer now. When the numbers of refugees from Syria and other conflict areas began to tail off in the autumn of 2016, a leading London-based think tank sounded a note of caution. ‘As long as the EU is surrounded by crises,’ warned Susi Dennison of the European Council on Foreign Relations, ‘its leaders are ill-advised to mistake any short-term drop in arrivals for a sustained decline in refugee flows.’ It wasn’t as if the migrant crisis had been totally unexpected; the ‘surprise’ was long heralded. Sir Richard Dearlove, a former head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, has revealed that as long ago as 2001 the CIA was predicting massive migration pressures. The US intelligence agency had warned that ‘migration . . . – particularly out of Africa – was going to be a huge problem for the European continent.’1 91


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António Guterres, now Secretary General of the United Nations, tried in 2008 to alert world opinion to the way ‘The twenty-first century will be characterized by the mass movement of people being pushed and pulled within and beyond their borders by conflict, calamity or opportunity.’ Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, was at that time the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, and was already profoundly critical of the ‘erratic’ efforts of the international community ‘to devise policies to preempt, govern or direct these movements in a rational manner’.2 Since those days, international migrant numbers followed their predicted course, climbing steadily upwards from 173 million people worldwide in 2000 to 258 million in 2017, 275 million in 2020 and are forecast at 309 million by mid-century. Two-thirds of these migrants of course head for rich countries, with a substantial proportion of those from Arab and African countries opting for Europe. It remains to be seen how the coronavirus crisis will affect these forecasts. With hindsight, it’s plain that the EU’s inadequate response to the Arab Spring of 2011 exacerbated migratory pressures. The popular uprisings that overthrew autocratic rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen at first promised a new era of democratic politics and faster economic development. But EU countries were wrestling with their own domestic problems in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, and neglected to prime the pump of Arab investment and growth. The hope had been that the Arab Spring would somehow be harnessed to help mop up youth unemployment in Arab countries. Instead, youth joblessness there has soared. Before the Arab Spring, average youth unemployment in the Arab world was 25 per cent, and five years later in 2016 it had risen to 30 per cent. In Libya almost half of the young people aged 15–24 are without work, and in Egypt the figure is over 40 per cent. Africa’s population explosion is most frequently cited as a wellspring of migratory pressure, but that of the Arab world is almost as dramatic. The combined populations of Arab countries have already doubled

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over the last quarter century, rising from around 180 million to 360 million, and may well reach 470 million by as soon as 2025. Egypt’s population of nearly 90 million people is projected to hit 140 million by mid-century. Its teeming capital, Cairo, exemplifies the stresses on Arab society of population growth, and the way these are compounded by the shift away from rural communities to cities. Unemployed young Egyptians, who tend to be better educated than economic migrants from other parts of Africa, are expected to try and head for Europe in increasing numbers. What has the EU’s reaction been to these developments? In 2004 it unveiled its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) partly as a concomitant to the ‘big bang’ enlargement that took in ten and eventually twelve new member states, most of them former communist countries in central and Eastern Europe. That strategic move reduced the EU’s level of political and economic engagement with its southern neighbours, while post-9/11 actions in Afghanistan and Iraq also inflamed the Arab world and fanned the fires of militant Islam. As the ‘ring of fire’ around Europe became increasingly menacing, EU governments demanded that the emphasis of the ENP should be shifted from trade and investment to a stronger focus on security. The result has been a weakening of the Union’s relationship with the southern and eastern Mediterranean neighbours, and a waning of its influence on the governments of countries from which migrants originate. The ENP was, in the view of many policy analysts, a dead letter even before Covid-19 and the ensuing long-term recession that has hit the EU’s neighbours as hard, if not harder, as Europe itself. Because the ENP was no longer fit for purpose in terms of handling migration, the European Union had been taking a more piecemeal approach. In the autumn of 2016, when the scale of the migrant crisis had rung alarm bells across Europe, a fifteen-strong team of EU officials travelled to West Africa to discuss ideas for stemming the outflow of emigrants and creating a ‘returns’ system that would ensure that those denied asylum would be repatriated.


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The Eurocrats visited five countries, concentrating on Nigeria, Ethiopia and Niger. Their brief was to recreate a ‘Turkey deal’ comparable to that struck the year before by Brussels with Ankara, which, in return for a €3 billion cash payment, blocked the Aegean Sea route taken by many Syrians. Billed as an attempt to tackle the ‘root causes’ of emigration from sub-Saharan Africa, the focus of the EU plan was to funnel a massive €60 billion in European investment spending in return for a much tougher line by African governments to discourage and even actively prevent their young people from heading north to Europe. The details of the proposed project were never entirely clear. But in line with the EU’s own funding limitations, and the slim chance that its member governments would agree to contribute adequately, it was understood that private sector investors would account for most of this multiannual financial commitment. There was no sign of the scheme coming to fruition even before Covid-19, and in its aftermath the wider and more urgent question is what comparatively wealthy Europe will do to sustain the economies of hard-hit southern neighbours.

Fortress Europe? Good luck with that! It is a tough proposition to convince governments in migrants’ countries of origin that they should limit emigration and thus forego the financial remittances their nationals send home. The $554 billion the World Bank estimated was remitted by migrants in 2019 accounts for a substantial share of poorer countries’ foreign currency income. Remittances are why families and indeed whole villages ‘invest’ in young men who leave to seek their fortunes in Europe. But because of the coronavirus crisis, the flow of money back to migrants’ home countries during 2020 will probably have dropped by at least a fifth. Job cuts, lockdowns and the scale of the economic slowdown are hitting migrants and seasonal workers particularly hard. Foreign

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direct investment in poorer countries is also plummeting, with the World Bank warning it might fall by 40 per cent from 2019 levels. The incentives to emigrate to Europe are thus growing, despite the gloom surrounding the EU and UK economies. Meanwhile, there’s much uncertainty over how shrinking levels of foreign investment by European businesses will affect migration. Although it’s generally thought that any investments that stimulate economic growth in Africa will in the longer term act as a brake on migration, there is a counterargument that they could have the opposite effect. Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC, has researched this question and says of poorer countries that ‘emigration rates tend to rise until per capita GDP reaches $7,000–$8,000.’ That means there’s still a long way to go in most of Europe’s African and Arab neighbours.3 Thinking in Europe before Covid-19 had been moving away from limiting emigration to persuading migrants’ countries of origin to cooperate on regularizing the flow of job-seekers. That meant a strengthening of policies to clamp down on illegal migration and introduce zero-tolerance of asylum seekers who refuse to return home when their application is rejected. It would be misleading to say this produced anything resembling a rigorously thought-out EU plan. Intensified by the impact of the coronavirus, confusion reigns over where and how new defences might be erected against migrants, and whether non-European governments can ever be turned into reliable allies in Europe’s ‘war’ against illegal immigration. The opening shots in the EU’s campaign were fired in the autumn of 2016, and took a form that will be familiar to Brussels-watchers: a new name for an old body. The EU rebranded its Frontex organization for coordinating frontier security by giving it the far from catchy title of European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG), and earmarking an extra 1,500 posts for officers who ‘could be speedily mobilised in emergencies, such as during a sudden rush of migrants.’ Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU’s migration commissioner at that time, hailed the launch of the EBCG as ‘a milestone in the history of European border management. This is exactly the European response


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that we need for the security and migration challenges of the twentyfirst century.’ It was nothing of the sort. The chief purpose of the EBCG’s creation looked to be a public relations exercise to show that the EU and its member governments were not standing idly by while the migrant crisis intensified. It was paralleled by the setting up of the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC), a new arm of Europol supporting cross-border investigations into people-smuggling rings. These organizations are chiefly concerned with policies to be implemented in Europe. But the spotlight has also shifted to focus more on the measures needed on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Rather than wait for asylum seekers to arrive in an EU country, the idea is to establish centres in North African countries where their applications would be processed. That way, say the proponents of these centres, those found to be economic migrants rather than political refugees can more easily be sent back to their own country. To underline the claim that these would not be detention camps, the EU began to call the proposed centres ‘disembarkation platforms’. Opponents of the idea lost no time in reviling these centres as ‘concentration camps’, pointing to the many legal questions that surround them. These have been highlighted by Nourhan Abdel Aziz, a Cairo-based researcher at the American University’s Center for Migration and Refugee Studies. She has warned that actions of this sort would be ‘extreme forms of human rights violations. The principle of non-refoulement is enshrined in international refugee law.’4 Non-refoulement is the commonly used French legal term that rules out the returning of people to where they came from, but it isn’t quite the same as granting political asylum. It protects from repatriation anyone who is likely to be in danger of persecution based on race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group or political opinion. In other words, it’s a legal minefield for panels of officials who would be assessing applications at the new ‘platforms’. These might be dismissed as legal niceties by those EU governments most vociferously in favour of offshore processing of migrants, but

Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors


international law is an important factor. So too is the question of whether the governments of Arab countries would accept them on their territory. Dimitris Avramopoulos had said of the centres: ‘Nothing will be imposed in Europe or outside – our neighbours are our partners. We are confronted with the same challenges and we have to support each other.’ These words were barely out of his mouth when a spokesman for the Egyptian authorities responded that no platform would be acceptable ‘that violates the laws and constitution of our country.’ If these possible host countries had doubts, so did some EU member states. Luxembourg’s interior minister Jean Asselborn commented, at the end of a Council of Ministers meeting held in mid-2018 to discuss the creation of these platforms, ‘civilised people shouldn’t talk about disembarkation platforms.’ But the pressures within Europe to push ahead with the idea are nevertheless powerful. In Italy, the populist and stridently anti-immigrant coalition that took power in the spring of 2018 was just the latest EU government to urge a radical solution to the problems posed by migrants taking the perilous sea route across the Mediterranean. No one can accurately know the toll in human lives. Some estimates by NGOs put the number of people drowned since 2014 while attempting to reach Europe at 15,000. From an EU perspective, it would be both humanitarian and practical if would-be migrants could be accepted or rejected before embarking on such dangerous and usually expensive clandestine voyages. Making migration legal is the goal, or perhaps one should say ‘holy grail’ because it looks so unattainable. It is true that over a million people arrive legally in Europe every year, a high proportion of whom are dependents allowed in under family reunification schemes. There are also many students, along with young professionals like nurses and teachers who have been actively recruited to fill gaps in EU countries’ shrinking workforces. But what is under discussion here is the dream of regimenting the masses of illegal African and Arab job-seekers. The model that EU officials have wistfully described holds out the prospect of granting legal status to successful applicants, while making


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it plain that illegal migrants will be ruthlessly repatriated. It sounds highly attractive, as it would reduce the flow of people to manageable proportions, and thus greatly reduce the financial and administrative burden on southern EU countries. It would also relieve the pressures threatening the Schengen agreement on free movement without border controls between almost all the EU’s member states. Erecting frontier ‘defences’ against refugees and economic migrants, as some EU countries have done, not only damages the European project but in the longer run looks politically unrewarding. Opinion surveys suggest that two-thirds of European voters strongly support the right to free movement within the EU. But public opinion is also four-square behind legal migration, and that’s where policymakers are failing to deliver. If the hopelessness of illegal migration was made crystal clear in migrants’ countries of origin, there would be an incentive for would-be migrants to self-select on the basis of their own education and skills. There has long been talk in Brussels of establishing assessment centres in African cities so candidates can be processed and, if accepted, helped to find work in Europe. This sounds like common sense, but so far, it’s a pipe dream. Legal migration isn’t as attractive as it sounds, chiefly because many would-be migrants believe it would limit rather than enhance their chances of getting to Europe. They also know that if as an illegal migrant they are issued with a repatriation order, these are rarely enforced. Taking the irregular route is therefore widely seen as quicker because it cuts through so much red tape, and is almost as likely to result in gainful employment. Repatriation systems in most European countries, including the UK, are so lax they are almost an incentive to illegal migration. In Italy, of 27,000 migrants served with an expulsion order, fewer than 5,000 actually returned home. In Greece, despite the EU’s deal with Ankara barring the Aegean route, a mere 202 illegal migrants were sent back to Turkey in 2017. Politicians in Europe, meanwhile, respond to immigration pressures by calling for higher walls and more effective naval patrols. These

Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors


amount to placing a finger in the dyke – the sheer size of territories and seas to be patrolled, together with the ambivalence and impotence of so many Arab and African governments, make it well-nigh impossible to clamp down on irregular migration. Spain’s enclaves in northern Morocco since 1415 – Ceuta and Melilla – are a microcosm of the wider picture. With their six-metre parallel double walls and deep moats they look like impregnable fortresses, yet both are regularly breached. These Spanish ‘Gibraltars’ attract African migrants like flies to a honeypot. Morocco has visa-free entry for several African neighbours, and the two port cities are looked to by young hopefuls as a gateway to Europe. Thousands of African youths inhabit makeshift camps outside their razor-wire walls, and occasionally make successful concerted rushes on them. Madrid has revealed that, in most years, over 4,000 young men from West African countries manage to scale these defences. That’s about a third of the illegal migrants who, deterred by the increasing difficulty of reaching Italy via Libya, have instead been opting for the Moroccan route to Spain. The remaining two-thirds of the 15,500 illegals who made it to Spain in 2017 had to be rescued at sea. The Spanish authorities’ earlier policies of equipping countries like Mauritania with jeeps and fast patrol boats to block transit routes northwards had proved inadequate. Needless to say, attempts to build a ‘Fortress Europe’ are doomed to failure. They may slow down and even reduce the influxes, but they won’t stop them. Bringing a semblance of order and shifting towards many more legal migrants can only be achieved through an ambitious EU strategy designed to pour economic development and investment spending into African and Arab countries. In Brussels, senior EU officials generally agree that the ENP must be radically overhauled and rebranded if it is to become the cornerstone of a new migration strategy. That message won little support from national governments precoronavirus, and not much since. Many politicians fear that talk of a ‘European’ approach to immigration renders them more vulnerable than ever to voter dissatisfaction.


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Europe must make good use of its breathing space In the economic and political chaos created by Covid-19, it’s hard to believe that Europe has the breathing space to lay plans for a future migration policy. The ‘push’ pressures in migrants’ countries of origin and the ‘pull’ of Europe’s manpower needs will not abate for long, so European policymakers in fact have precious but limited time to think ahead and devise a long-term strategy. Migration experts have been urging this on EU governments for more than thirty years, and now in the turmoil of Covid-19 the need is greater than ever. Europe must brace for two separate policy collisions. One is the obvious question of how to make migratory pressures more manageable. The other is the equally daunting matter of rethinking the achievement that EU citizens are justly proud of – the ‘social contract’ that distinguishes European society from the harsher realities of life for the underprivileged in the United States and elsewhere. From healthcare to public education and from unemployment benefit to child support, social welfare in Europe is to come under heavy pressure. Almost a third of refugees who came to Europe in 2015–16 were under 18 years old, and half were under 34. The arrival of young migrants with long working lives ahead of them promises to be a crucially important counterweight to the ageing of the indigenous European population and the fast-growing number of pensioners. Migration is a counterweight, but it’s not a straightforward solution. A substantial proportion of Europe’s better educated and higher addedvalue workers will gradually be replaced by less productive newcomers. This shift will demand a substantial restructuring of tax and welfare arrangements, and that’s probably a massive understatement. It seems likely that huge tax increases will be needed to pay for pensions and fund the training and accommodation of tens of millions of newcomers. The costs of social welfare commitments in Europe and other OECD members before Covid-19 were already scary. A report by the Parisbased ‘club’ of richer nations showed social protection payments taking

Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors


a five times larger slice of rich countries’ economies than fifty years ago. In 2016 they rose to an average of 21 per cent of GDP, having stood at 15 per cent in 1980 and only 5 per cent in the 1960s.5 Pensions and unemployment benefits haven’t changed very much over those 40 years, but what has risen appreciably is the number of people claiming them. Pensions are set to rise more sharply still. The EU’s Eurostat figures put member states’ welfare commitments at around 29 per cent of their GDPs, with pensions in countries like Italy and France now accounting for 15 per cent and 14 per cent of GDP, respectively. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel put the situation in a nutshell when she commented that Europe accounts for half of all social policy spending in the world with only a quarter of global GDP. Her message that this is unsustainable was underlined by more statistics. While it is generally accepted that the proportion of people over the age of 65 is rising across Europe, including the UK, less well known is the speed of the increase. At present almost a fifth of the EU’s population –19 per cent – is over 65 years of age, but by 2030 that will have risen to nearly a quarter – 24 per cent – and by 2050 it’s due to reach 28 per cent. Just as worrying as the numbers of people who will have retired to draw their state pension is the growing proportion of people in their eighties and nineties, many of whom will need expensive medical care. The proportion of over-80s is to balloon from 6.5 per cent of Europeans in 2025 to 12 per cent by mid-century. Healthcare costs in the EU will therefore jump from 7.8 per cent of GDP now to almost 11 per cent by 2060. These projections can be diluted to some degree by the youthfulness of the migrant population. Half the mainly Muslim non-European people now in Europe are under 30, whereas less than a third of native Europeans are. Put another way, the median age of Muslims in Europe is 30.4, and for the non-Muslim population, 43.8. Add to that the immigrants’ birth rates, which is 2.6 children per woman compared with Europeans’ average of 1.6 children, and there’s no disputing the demographic importance of the newcomers. The only brake would


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appear to be the preponderance of young male migrants unaccompanied by women. This is a serious social problem in the making. The cost of social protection is already stupendous. Almost three trillion euros – over 40 per cent of all EU governments’ spending – now goes on welfare-related benefits, and despite all the austerity policies adopted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, social spending at this level is unstoppable. Ministerial rhetoric is of slashing benefits to achieve ‘affordable’ welfare costs, but in the real world, demand keeps on rising. How Europeans can square the circle of more social spending with sluggish economic growth is anyone’s guess. Iain Begg of the London School of Economics neatly summed up the challenge in a report entitled ‘The Welfare State in Europe: Visions for Reform’ for the UK’s Chatham House think tank. ‘By accepting such a burden, European economies are rendering themselves uncompetitive in global markets,’ he wrote, adding that ‘the other side of the story is that well-designed welfare states can promote sustainable growth.’6 Redesigning social protection to cope with the twin pressures of ageing and immigration is a challenge that economists and other experts have been grappling with for some time. Politicians have been assiduously ducking it. Some analysts are even gloomier than Prof. Begg. Social welfare in Europe has already entered a ‘Bronze Age’, warns Luis Moreno at Madrid’s Institute of Public Goods and Politics (IPP). Describing the period up to the mid-1970s as a Golden Age of social policy, followed by the Silver Age that lasted until 2008, he says ‘the current Bronze Age may just be the prelude to the return of prehistoric Social Europe.’ Before coronavirus, Europe’s policymakers were already caught between a rock and a hard place – governments, notably in the eurozone, could not splurge on borrowing because of the deficit ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP, and low levels of economic growth across the EU were not yielding large enough tax receipts to tackle long-term difficulties. With economies in the grip of deep recession, this trap is more unforgiving than ever.

Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors


The incalculable costs of more migrants and more pensioners Looking beyond the coronavirus crisis, what might be the costs of Europe’s ageing and of accepting, settling and integrating newcomers, whether they be refugees or economic migrants? The pre-Covid-19 German experience offers a useful basis for discussion, even if it’s far from a blueprint. The federal finance ministry in Berlin put the cost to taxpayers of the migrant crisis at some €100 billion by 2020. When they published that figure in mid-2016 it chiefly reflected the surge of just over two million asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and they predicated yearly costs of around €20 billion on a continuing flow of arrivals of around 300,000 people a year, due in large part to family reunifications. The OECD has estimated a host country’s yearly expenditure on each asylum seeker at €10,000. That initial cost declines in subsequent years, but it doesn’t take account of expenditure on the many aspects of what it terms ‘integration support’. That groups services ranging from education and training to housing to job-finding. Once asylum is granted, the benefits available to newcomers and their families rise appreciably.7 It is unclear whether these figures cover the additional costs borne by local and regional authorities. The OECD reckoned that 35–45 per cent of the expenses involved in hosting refugees and migrants fell on ‘sub-central governments’. It’s hard to say what proportion of those costs are borne by Germany’s federal government, but the angry exchanges reported in the German media between regional authorities and Berlin suggested it’s far from 100 per cent. Some German experts reckoned the official cost estimates are too low. Bernd Raffelhüschen, an economics professor at the University of Freiburg who has specialized in insurance issues and pension reform, put the longer-term cost to Germany of the 2015–16 migrant crisis at around a trillion euros. Depending on the extent to which secondgeneration migrants are integrated into Germany’s workforce, he saw


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the true costs at somewhere between €880 billion and €1.5 trillion. His colleague and co-founder of the Stiftung Marktwirtschaft think tank in Berlin, Michael Eilfort, added a pessimistic postscript, saying, ‘uncontrolled migration doesn’t bring the country fiscal return, but will cost the country money long term.’ Agreeing a bottom-line figure for Germany, or for Europe as a whole, is clearly impossible. Each country operates its own system for managing immigration, and for structuring welfare and social security benefits, and they all compile their statistics differently. Putting a collective figure on spending is therefore to add apples and oranges, but a single uncomfortable truth remains; even if Europeans can ill afford immigration, they can’t afford to do without it. Germany opened its doors in recent years to about a third of all the migrants and asylumseeking refugees who made their way to Europe. If the figure of a trillion euros is anywhere close to the mark – and it’s clearly debatable – then EU governments will need to scratch together something like three trillion euros during the decade to 2030. That’s the cost of hosting about twenty million legal newcomers at the present rate of some two million a year. That doesn’t take account of the potential plus side of the equation – the newcomers’ economic and fiscal contribution. It’s only guesswork at present but it may prove to be substantial. And it doesn’t reflect the stimulus that housing and educating migrants and their children will give to national and local economies. The massive upfront costs of large-scale immigration are undeniable, but they have to be placed in the context of the EU’s total economy, and a combined GDP of just over €15 trillion a year. A little more than a tenth of that consists of pensions, which may help to sustain consumption but are scarcely investment spending. Pensioners are increasing in number, and the more worrying trend line is sluggish economic growth in relation to the dwindling ranks of working age people. As said in earlier chapters, there will be fewer workers to pay the taxes that fund those pensions. The pay-as-you-go pension systems of France, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Spain are all in serious trouble. State pensions are funded

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out of state budgets, and are relied on by around three-quarters of all retirees in those countries. Fewer than a quarter have contributed to private pension plans, so if ageing Europe is to avoid a complete pensions breakdown, the proportion of people contributing to private pensions will need to rise to half. Even then very large tax increases will be needed. In the UK and the United States, underfunded pensions were ringing loud alarm bells well before the coronavirus pandemic induced the Great Depression. With many more early retirements than had been expected, the picture is darker still. The World Economic Forum, organizer of the annual Davos meetings, looked at the pensions picture in Britain and found a $4 trillion shortfall in retirement savings. Because that gap is growing at 4 per cent annually, it is projected to reach $33 trillion by mid-century. Gross that up for a pan-European guesstimate and the figures resemble telephone numbers.8

The unresolved issues no one wants to address Heated though Europe’s migration debate is, it hasn’t even begun to touch on these troubling economic factors. Politicians have on the whole questioned the acceptability of migrants on social, cultural and religious grounds while overlooking the fiscal and economic aspects. Although not entirely negative, these can pose huge upfront challenges to welfare and social security structures that have gone undisturbed for decades. Europeans have no choice but to adapt to the new realities. Doing so will demand a far more sophisticated discussion of how tax can be used to support demographic upheaval. The populists’ notion that European countries can simply pull up the drawbridge and avoid paying social security benefits to migrants is ill-founded and ostrich-like. Even if it were possible to halt immigration in response to soaring unemployment, that would cause more economic harm than good. Such a standstill would mean an 8 per cent shrinkage of the EU’s


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population by 2050, which would be economically disastrous. It’s not just the overall reduction that would hurt, but also the upsetting of the balance between younger wage earners and unproductive pensioners. A preview of the economic impact of blocking immigration was afforded in April 2020 when US President Donald Trump issued an executive order pausing the issuing of all Green Cards for two months. He was responding to the news that 26 million American employees had been furloughed because of Covid-19, but his ban was hurriedly watered down when the economic facts of life were explained to him. Trump’s staffers in the White House quickly drew his attention to the substantial body of research showing that the measure risked inflicting severe harm. Moody’s Analytics, for example, had issued a report in 2017 that showed each increase of 1 per cent in the US population correlated with a 1.5 per cent rise in GDP. California was particularly hostile to the Trump administration’s move because undocumented immigrants there contribute some $2.5 billion yearly in taxes. Hostility to immigration has been a feature of Trump’s presidency, and a source of amusement and irritation among observers familiar with the economic advantages of immigration. The present EU population of 512 million (including the UK) is on course to grow by a modest 3.6 per cent by mid-century, with at least half of the newcomers responsible for the increase expected to be youthful, which means their contribution in terms of manpower and fertility will be essential. The essential proviso, of course, is that those strengths are harnessed productively. Facing up to these new realities, and seeing immigration as a solution to Europe’s mega-problem of ageing, demands a profound shift in attitudes, and that will be more difficult than ever in the postcoronavirus climate of fear and uncertainty. How, and where, to start on constructing a new deal for migrants is far from clear; it was difficult before the onset of the long-term recession, and will be even harder now. Before coronavirus, the EU had placed the accent much more on refugee burden-sharing schemes than on longer-term strategies for managing the integration of newcomers. And now, with the European

Migration’s ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’ Factors


Union’s solidarity so stressed by the pandemic, a migration pact between member states looks less likely than ever. When public sympathy was first engaged in 2015 by the onset of the migrant crisis, the EU institutions were looked to as the obvious crisis managers. The Brussels commission was thought to have the connections, the networks and the funds to deal humanely with the long columns of bedraggled refugee families trekking northwards along railway embankments. And Brussels delivered; European Commission officials were among the unsung heroes of that chaotic period when Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans were fleeing from conflicts in their native lands in apparently never-ending flows. EU officialdom reorganized itself and hurriedly established new intra-European mechanisms for dealing with the hordes of hungry and dispossessed. The eurocrats also dusted off their long-ignored proposals for a European migration policy. The need to avoid beggar-thy-neighbour conflicting national responses was a paramount consideration, because they would threaten free movement of people and the very foundations of the EU. On top of that, Brussels saw that it alone had the political machinery needed to raise funds and agree the common policies that could confront the upheaval. The flurry of activity that followed produced few durable results, but some useful temporary ones. EU-backed maritime operations like ‘Triton’, ‘Sophia’ and ‘Poseidon’ were accompanied by such modestly funded initiatives as the €1.8 billion Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) unveiled at the EU-Africa summit in Valletta, Malta, in November 2015. The most ambitious has been the EU’s 2014–20 Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, with a price tag of just over €3 billion. The foot-dragging reluctance of EU member states to pour money into a common pot and to cede some of their national authority sapped Brussels’ attempts to fashion a genuinely European strategy. The principal concern on both sides – the EU and the member states – was to diminish the internal political problems created by the migrant crisis rather than to address its far more serious implications.


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Luigi Achilli, a researcher at the European University Institute’s migration policy think tank, summed up the shortcomings of the EU approach.‘EU efforts remain overwhelmingly focused on implementing a security-based policy,’ he says, and suggests that instead ‘a decisive step towards a more durable radical solution to the current crisis demands the opening of new channels of legal entry.’ The EU, or at any rate its officials in Brussels, tried bravely to convince member states of the need to develop more proactive policies. The task was made no easier by the growing number of recalcitrant and nationalistic political parties and by governments drawing support for an anti-immigrant stance. Brussels’ greatest problem, however, was its own failure to reach out to public opinion and hammer home the message that for all the social problems created by immigration, newcomers are essential to future prosperity. The European Commission fears accusations of meddling in domestic politics, so it’s unwilling to speak out even when there’s a compelling case to ignore this taboo. This is especially true of migration, even though it is a problem that overwhelmingly needs European solutions. It remains to be seen whether the EC’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, will have the grit to say so when dealing with the multitude of difficulties created by Covid-19.


Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges

Increasingly in the throes of an economic depression unseen since the 1930s, Europeans’ own economic and political woes are obscuring their view of Africa’s still greater difficulties. Covid-19’s impact in African countries – already beset by underdevelopment and population explosions – poses a growing threat to Europe’s stability. To prevent an overwhelming rise of migratory pressures, European companies and their governments must do more to stimulate growth in migrants’ countries of origin. Half a century ago, French writer Jean Raspail published a book called Le Camp des Saints, which envisaged European civilization crumbling under the impact of unregulated migration from the Third World. Raspail’s novel was seen as disaster fiction when it appeared in the early 1970s. It evoked an improbable future, and was largely ignored. Since then it has made a limited comeback with several republications in English, the latest in 2017, and has gained a degree of popularity among white supremacists, most notably in America, who have greeted it as prescient. The novel’s opening chapter gives a flavour of the author’s message. Here is his description of the battered vessels crammed with people beached on the shores of the French Riviera. ‘How many of them were there, out on those grounded wrecks? . . . A hundred ships! On this Easter Sunday evening, eight hundred thousand living beings and thousands of dead ones were making their peaceful assault on the western world.’ The developments that make up the story are unlikely to the point of appearing ludicrous; fleets of emaciated migrants sail halfway around 109


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the world to land on Mediterranean shores, and then overwhelm European countries and topple their governments. Where Raspail was especially wrong was to predicate this ‘invasion’ on uncontrollable emigration from India; we now know that Africa will be the chief source of migration to Europe, not Asia. Raspail can be forgiven for failing to grasp this point, because Europe hasn’t recognized it yet. The focus of media attention has been on refugees from Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, and turmoil throughout the Arab world is sure to mean more people fleeing their homes there. Yet Africa looms as by far the larger problem. The threat of uncontrolled migration from Africa can come as no surprise. Images of refugees from North Africa perilously adrift in overcrowded vessels have been the daily fare of the Western media, and so too has Africa’s poverty. Whether the focus is drought and famine, civil war, endemic disease or political chaos, the woes of African countries are so well known that familiarity has blunted Europeans’ concern. At the onset of the coronavirus it was feared it would spread rapidly through Africa, but the size of the continent and limits on mobility between countries apparently helped to contain pockets of infection. It also became clear that it was coronavirus’s impact on richer countries in Europe and elsewhere that would wreak the greatest long-term damage on African nations; their underdevelopment is making them very vulnerable to trade and investment cutbacks, and to reduced cash remittances from migrants working in Europe. The effects of Covid-19 within Africa are as varied as the different climates, cultures and ethnicities of the continent’s fifty-four nations, but the cumulative effect of the pandemic and the slowdown in trade, investment and job creation is such that Africa’s ills are becoming a global challenge. Few African countries, unlike so many in Asia, have flourished since gaining independence in the 1960s, and most have had to contend with a population explosion. Even before Covid-19 and the ensuing depression, African birth rates were set to be the twenty-first-century’s geopolitical game changer. Africa’s population is growing at 2.5 per cent

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


a year, twice the average global rate, and by 2050 it will have risen from 1.2 billion to 2.5 billion, and possibly to 2.7 billion. By mid-century, a quarter of the people on this planet will be Africans. And unless there’s an unexpected demographic hiccup, by the beginning of the twenty-second century Africa’s population could climb to 5.5 billion, equal to the entire global population in the closing years of the twentieth century. Many African governments will have difficulty feeding the extra mouths, and will certainly be unable to find enough jobs for them. Between now and 2050, job-seekers in their hundreds of millions will flood onto African labour markets, with the likelihood that many who are disappointed will head north to Europe, possibly in their tens of millions. It is impossible to calculate the scale of Africa’s future problems. Demographers project trends that may or may not persist, while national statistics in Africa are not always put together on the same basis. Such statistical differences are far from just an African problem. Two very different estimates of African job-seeker numbers by midcentury have been confidently presented within days of each other in Paris and in Washington, DC. When the authoritative French newspaper Le Monde’s African affairs expert Cyril Bensimon reported in 2017 on the new Africa strategy being urged by France’s newly elected President Emmanuel Macron, he suggested that 450 million youngsters are expected to be looking for work by mid-century. Across the Atlantic, however, Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development in the United States reported to the World Economic Forum that sub-Saharan Africa’s workforce will number 800 million by 2050. ‘More migration is certainly coming,’ he concluded.1

African emigration is in only temporary abeyance The exodus of young men, mainly from West and Central Africa had slowed almost to a trickle before Covid-19 struck. Experts warned that


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it was far from over, but some EU governments preferred to believe the migration problem had been resolved. The UN’s International Organization for Migration had been able to report significant reductions in Mediterranean crossings since the 2015–16 migrant crisis. The figures were reassuring; the million-plus migrants who had risked the hazardous sea route to Europe in 2015 had by January 2020 dropped to just a tenth of that – 105,425 people for the whole of 2019. That will prove to be a blip, not a trend. Europe faces the prospect of many more young Africans flooding northwards in search of jobs and better living standards. Whether they’ll be in their tens of millions will be largely determined by the aftermath of Covid-19 and also by the policies of the European Union. Africa’s population explosion has implications far beyond the response capabilities of any single EU member state. European policymakers are waking to the idea that it’s cheaper to head off mass migration by creating jobs in Africa than to try and deal with migratory pressures that could become uncontrollable. But Europe has no Grand Strategy for Africa, and Africans have no appetite for anything that would smack of a return to tutelage by their former colonial masters. ‘Africa Rising’ was in pre-coronavirus times an encouraging theme, but the discouraging reality is that much of Africa was even then on a perilous course towards becoming an economic, political and security black hole. Fifty years of development assistance have done little to improve the lives of people in sub-Saharan Africa, half of whom still eke out a living on less than $1.25 a day. A third of the children there will never get any education, and most will be unskilled if not illiterate. The measurable economies of the African continent’s fifty-four countries together amount to that of France. In the wake of Covid-19, the priority of industrialized countries is to stave off the collapse of whole industries and their jobs, but their recovery plans must also be extended to Africa. A momentous rethink is needed of education, agriculture and job creation in Africa, and the starting point must be employment. Jobs are key to reducing Africa’s emigration pressures. Young people under the age of 24 make up half of

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


Africa’s population, and the under-35s bring that up to 60 per cent. Before Covid-19, only one in six young Africans was in a regular paid job, with casual work lifting overall youth employment to around 40 per cent. That still added up to 60 per cent joblessness among young Africans. Population growth since the beginning of this century has pushed the average age in Africa down to only 18, in contrast to the European average of nearly 45 years old. More and more young Africans are competing for too few jobs. These young people will have increasingly little incentive to stay put and seek a livelihood in their own country. Despite the dangers of the journey to Europe as an illegal immigrant, the prospect of a povertystricken existence in Africa holds little charm for the more ambitious and better educated. Competition for work, housing and decent living conditions is intensifying. Every year up to 2030 will see 30 million more youthful African job-seekers. Perhaps one in five will find employment, and about the same proportion will start their own small business in the informal economy as market traders or the like. On the brighter side, it could be that African countries’ booming populations will prove a job-creating dynamic that results in a bonanza of new opportunities. It is the picture created by the growth rates achieved in pre-coronavirus times by more than half of Africa. Ethiopia led with GDP growth of 9 per cent, and more than twenty-five other countries recorded annual growth of 5 per cent or more. That’s encouraging, but it is far from the whole picture. There are also in-depth forecasts that suggest low educational standards along with a widespread absence of infrastructure like water and electricity will continue to act as a strong brake on development. Africa’s image is of almost limitless space, wide skies, barely populated red-earthed savannahs and jungle clad hillsides. The reality is that Africa is undergoing a massive social shift as people move to towns and cities. The continent’s urban population in 2050 may well be three times its present size. Two-thirds of Africans still lead rural lives, but by mid-century that proportion is set to shrink to one-third.


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While it will be easier to create businesses in cities, and thus jobs, massive urbanization demands a degree of investment and planning that seems beyond the reach of most African governments. Africa’s teeming slums are poor foundations for the housing needed by large influxes of new inhabitants, and its shanty towns are not fertile ground for solid economic growth. Africans who have fled their homes to escape violence and hunger account for a third of the world’s refugees. The media attention given to African migrants heading north to Europe obscures a much greater migrant problem within Africa itself. Africa’s pre-2020 total of 7.5 million refugees was just the most visible part of a larger hidden problem. The UNHCR added to those refugees a further 18 million IDPs – internally displaced people uprooted from their homes but remaining in their native land. In addition to these two categories there are a further million or more stateless people, 630,000 asylum seekers within Africa and half a million returned refugees. In all, the total number of Africans forced to live in unsanitary camps must be reckoned at close to 30 million. Europe doesn’t have to cope directly with Africa’s internal migratory pressures, but its self-interest is clearly to speed the development of national economies. Quite apart from heading off mass migration, rising disruption and chaos within Africa risks becoming a threat to Europe’s security. Long before Covid-19 and the global recession, analysts in Germany were telling Chancellor Angela Merkel that 20 million new jobs a year are needed in Africa. Other estimates were 30 million. That’s why Berlin has been foremost among the governments urging a ‘Marshall Plan for Africa’ aimed at doing for Africa’s economic development what the original post-Second World War American financial support strategy did for Europe. There’s a long way to go until this strategy even begins to scratch the surface of Africa’s economic ills. In the attractive modern dome-shaped building that houses the European Investment Bank (EIB) just across the road from the ECJ in Luxembourg’s Kirchberg district, experts at the self-styled ‘EU Bank’ have been struggling to raise finance from

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


donors who are generally unenthusiastic about funnelling money into inefficient African economies. The EIB is the EU’s long-term lending arm set up in the early days after the Treaty of Rome was signed. It uses its €250 billion capital to promote growth within Europe and around the world, and to spearhead the new plan for Africa it is valiantly trying to leverage the €5 billion available to it into €44 billion so that lending operations can get under way. To put that impressive-sounding sum into its real context, EIB boss, Werner Hoyer, warned a conference of migration experts in Vienna in autumn 2017, that the number of unemployed young Africans is expected to rise to more than 100 million in the years ahead. He noted that the funding gap between available money and what is needed to genuinely boost African economies stands at €2.3 trillion.2

Africa’s infrastructure nightmare The resilience and dynamism to be found in a good many African countries holds out great promise so long as inventive new development policies are implemented. The hope among international agencies and other development bodies is that the coronavirus crisis will be the catalyst that hastens their application. The problems to be tackled are daunting, and at the head of the list is Africa’s lack of basic physical infrastructure and its dearth of skills. If European countries are to contain migration from Africa, they must focus on ways to tackle these structural fundamental disadvantages. Of the handicaps holding African countries back, there’s one statistic that says it all; leaving aside the Arab north and semi-industrialized South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa consumes less electricity every day than the state of New York. The World Bank calculates that power shortages and the overall lack of reliable electricity knock 2 percentage points off Africa’s annual growth.3 Fewer than a third of sub-Saharan Africans have regular access to electricity, and another 600 million people have to contend with regular


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power cuts and brown-outs, or no electricity at all. Deprived of reliable power, whole communities in rural areas still literally live in the Dark Age. That means no industries, no functioning businesses of any size, no modern healthcare and precious little education. Although the infrastructure needs of African countries beggar belief, they could be met by the developed world if there were a far-sighted plan. Public funding is needed to prime the pump enough economically to bring in private sector investment from Europe and elsewhere. If efficiently managed, an African infrastructure strategy would pay off handsomely. Africa’s electricity challenges aren’t insurmountable. The Nairobibased Africa Progress Panel launched by the late Kofi Annan, the UN’s former Secretary General, has mapped out a strategic programme costing $63 billion a year over a thirteen-year period to expand and modernize Africa’s power grids. At present, aid donors together spend $8 billion a year on subsidizing electricity. A growing number of companies are offering more modest solutions in the shape of new technologies at affordable prices. Within the last decade, the cost of solar panels has shrunk to a fifth of their 2010 price; solar energy is therefore seen as akin to mobile phone connectivity in the way it can leapfrog older technology and enable Africa to make up its lost ground. Other remedies for Africa’s power shortages that should be receiving massive investment support from the EU include M-Kopa, which is a spin-off from the M-Pesa smartphone app that has enabled small farmers in Kenya to use smartphones for financial settlements. It now reportedly handles transactions equivalent to a third of Kenya’s GDP. The M-Kopa spin-off is a pay-as-you-go system that permits cell phone householders to purchase electricity from local mini-grids for as little as 50 cents a day. Other solutions include speeding up the use of solar panels. These don’t generally yield enough power for industrial use, but they can provide enough for Wi-Fi routers that give internet access. Three-quarters of Africans don’t have access to the internet, and that’s yet another drag on development. Some hi-tech giants see the

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


advantages of stimulating Africa’s business potential, which is why Microsoft is donating a billion dollars in cloud computing resources to NGOs and non-profit organizations, many of them in Africa. Bridging Africa’s digital divide must be ranked higher among development priorities. The transformative effects of smartphones show that information and communication is a powerful economic dynamo, and that digital technologies, like 3D printing, could bring about a manufacturing revolution there overnight.

Educating Africans for skilled jobs The most important advance of all should be in education, but schools risk being among the earliest victims of Covid-19. Almost a decade ago, the Ebola outbreak forced the closure of schools across West Africa, with consequences that are now being felt in the form of skills shortages that date back to that time. Skills training is crucial to Africa’s economic development, and to ensuring that African migrants are able to contribute to Europe’s future. Young Africans who will be arriving in ever-greater numbers must be equipped with the skills to find work and prosper. There’s much controversy about improving education in Africa. One school of thought is that far from slowing emigration, better education could instead increase it. Nicholas Westcott, a British expert who has long specialized on Africa, warns that it may prove counter-productive. ‘The more we educate people there,’ he says, ‘the more they’ll want to come to the West.’ The former managing director for Africa relations in the EU’s diplomatic arm, the European External Action Service, Westcott now heads the Royal African Society in London. He believes that it’s better to invest in entrepreneurs in African countries so as to ‘free their economies from the dead hand of the state.’ Other European officials in Brussels see African education as an essential part of their proposed strategy of promoting ‘circular migration’. This is the idea that African migrants will in the years ahead


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come to Europe to help satisfy EU countries’ labour needs, but would eventually return home to contribute that experience to the development of their native land. It sounds like a neat solution to the needs of both Africa and Europe, but it’s based on skills and education levels that aren’t yet widely available. A third of African children don’t go to school, and on the basis of forty pupils per class, Africa is reckoned to lack almost two million teachers. On average, African countries’ education budgets represent around 5 per cent of GDP, not much less than in Europe. But so many governments scrimp on teachers’ wages, or can’t afford to pay them, that teacher absenteeism is chronic. Moonlighting to supplement their pay is estimated by the World Bank to result in absenteeism of 15–25 per cent. At primary level, children in many African countries get around two hours of instruction a day. Zambia, for instance, reportedly spends only 1.3 per cent of its GDP on education, while Lesotho devotes 13 per cent. Although it is impossible to devise blanket policies that would improve education throughout Africa, a common problem to be addressed is the opposition of so many teachers and administrators in state-run education systems to private sector competitors. Teachers’ strikes and protests are often aimed at blocking private schooling initiatives. There is nevertheless a growing consensus that major education and training initiatives are needed. Their proponents argue that as well as radically changing conditions inside Africa, there would be a positive impact on the migration question. Better education could moderate the flow of emigrants from Africa, while improving emigrants’ qualifications to make them welcome additions to European workforces. The new techniques being discussed combine the wider use of the internet and wide-scale privatization of basic schooling and skills training. The Bridge International Academies network of schools has been a controversial pioneer of this approach. It is an American start-up that has big ideas for Africa. Since its 2007 launch, the Bridge concept of low-cost private schools for the world’s poorest children has won it

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


100,000 students in Kenya, Uganda, Liberia and Nigeria. It is the brainchild of a married duo of high-flying Harvard graduates with a profit-making approach that promises investors returns of as much as 20 per cent, attracting funds from the UK government as well as from private investors and venture capitalists. Bridge’s teachers receive basic training and then use e-readers and handheld tablets to deliver standardized, scripted lessons. The Bridge system may not be perfect, but with fees as low as $6 a month it is bringing a uniform curriculum within the reach of a growing number of secondary school pupils. Bridge’s goal of enrolling 750,000 students by 2016 has moved on, and now the twin aims are four million students by 2022, and revenues of $470 million to fund further growth. If education in Africa could be made financially stable, the future would look a lot brighter. In the meantime, Bridge and similar initiatives, like Omega Schools in Ghana and the Future of Learning Fund that supports other educational entrepreneurs, have to contend with opposition from national education ministries. The challenge extends far beyond improving primary and secondary schooling, as the number of first-rate universities in Africa can be counted on one hand, or two if research strengths are included. This is not just the fault of African governments. The industrialized nations that fund assistance programmes for Africa have much to answer for. A 2014 study found that only two-thirds of the aid money earmarked for educational projects reaches African recipients. The missing third finances scholarships in donor countries’ own colleges and universities. That may be justified on the grounds that it guarantees high-quality courses, but it also condemns African universities to penury and lower standards. A first step towards increasing the flow of young people with higher qualifications would be to zero in on MOOCs, the fairly new phenomenon of ‘Massive Open Online Courses’. These have been championed by, among others, the University of the People, a nonprofit US outfit that offers degrees to students the world over. Its faculty is made up of academic volunteers.


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Using the internet to teach secondary school and advanced level courses is controversial, yet it seems an attractive way to leapfrog Africa’s shortage of qualified teachers. It could also help bypass the problem that so many of Africa’s elites graduate from foreign rather than African universities, thus creating a vicious circle that penalizes the development of universities in Africa. A MOOCs strategy would certainly lend itself to the EU’s efforts to modernize its aid programmes. As well as helping to boost the number of university graduates, Europe could be doing far more in the area of technical and business training. Investors looking for business opportunities in Africa complain they are hampered by the lack of qualified people, not just as managers but on the factory floor and in the accounts department. An EU-Africa report by the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe found that two-thirds of the EU-based companies surveyed cited inadequate skills as one of their main reasons for not investing in Africa. Other drawbacks included unacceptably high risks connected with corruption, weak governance, rule of law inadequacies and a widespread absence of infrastructure. The answer to these skills shortages lies in the hands of European investors. They tend to train their African employees in-house, rather than rely on the local labour market to supply workers of the right calibre. Yet if indeed they recognize Africa’s promise as a huge market and as a source of labour, they should be creating similar apprenticeship schemes in Africa to those in Europe.

China’s ‘Scramble for Africa’ Europe will be the loser if African economies are so weakened by the coronavirus-led depression that the result is conflict, security flash points and uncontrollable migration. Asia, on the other hand, stands to gain if Asian companies are able to step in and create new relationships with mineral-rich Africa. The shape and speed of the post-coronavirus recovery will do much to determine investment patterns in Africa, and

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


Asia’s economic resilience in the wake of the pandemic is giving it an important edge. Asian companies, notably Chinese ones, had already been widely criticized by European observers as cynical opportunists bent on stripping Africa’s mineral assets. In fact, they had been winning the confidence of African governments and of public opinion. The waning influence of European countries in Africa did much to fuel criticisms of China’s business practices there. Telecoms giant Huawei, like many Chinese companies, has been working hard to create friends and influence people in Africa. Derided though it is by its European competitors as selfish and indifferent to Africa’s real needs, Huawei gets 15 per cent of its global revenues from sales in Africa and has become so involved there that it graduates 12,000 telecoms engineers every year from the technical schools it operates from the Cape to Cairo. Huawei is just one of the many Chinese corporations that look to their expanding African activities with an enthusiasm rarely seen in Europe. China’s trade with Africa has, since 2000, grown more than twentyfold to $250 billion yearly, and its investments have increased at much the same rate. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC report that at the start of this century Chinese corporate investments in Africa equalled a mere 2 per cent of American investments, and it’s now heading for 60 per cent of the US total.4 Africa relies on exporting resources and raw materials that range from oil to diamonds, and from bauxite to cocoa beans. But these extractive industries have contributed little to Africa’s development, and create comparatively few jobs. With technological advances foreshadowing major shake-ups in mining, Chinese interests seem poised to reap the advantages. China is widely approved of by Africans. An ‘Afrobarometer’ opinion survey of thirty-six African countries has shown that almost two-thirds of respondents have a positive view of the growing Chinese involvement and influence. And the SAIS researchers calculated that, contrary to the


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widespread belief that Chinese companies bring in their own workforces from China for major projects, in fact four-fifths of the people employed on these projects are Africans, albeit usually in low-skilled jobs. Another myth about Chinese activities in Africa is that their sole interest is in extracting precious minerals. The numbers tell another story; two-thirds of American investment is in mining, but that accounts for only 28 per cent of Chinese investment. China is nevertheless looking to increase its presence in the key resource sectors, and is doing so in ways that Europe should be concerned about. Chinese companies have reportedly been working to corner the market in cobalt, the mineral crucial to electric car batteries that is chiefly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lesson to be drawn is that Europe needs to do much more to develop Africa’s national economies, both to protect European interests and to make future migrant flows manageable. European businesses must be encouraged by their governments to think more strategically about their African operations. The opportunism that critics say has been characteristic of the post-colonial era has to be replaced by a more far-sighted assessment of win–win ways to work with African partners. Counter-intuitively perhaps, European countries’ strongest card may prove to be past colonial links that could become the basis for closer political relations. These, however, must be based on a fundamental rethink of Europeans’ role in Africa, along with a more unified and cooperative front among Africans themselves. When European and African heads of government and their ministers met in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s capital city, in late 2017, the stage seemed set for a display of unity and a renewed determination to pursue a common development agenda. In the event, the summit revealed cracks on all sides. Many of the African Union’s member governments want a more forward-looking relationship with Europe, and are anxious to scrap the Cotonou Agreement, the aid and trade relationship now in its fifth decade. There is resistance to this on the European side, notably but not exclusively from farmers. There’s also the thorny issue of whether EU governments should continue turning a blind eye to civil rights abuses.

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


The Abidjan summit communiqué was stripped of all concrete references to democratic freedoms following strenuous objections by the more authoritarian AU governments.

What should EU investors and aid donors be doing? The concern of EU countries to regulate the flow of irregular migration is seeing sharply increased investment in border controls and defences. So much so that they will be spending as much, if not more, on keeping African migrants out than they pay out in development aid to the countries of origin of would-be migrants. In the EU’s budget for 2021–7, more than €30 billion is earmarked for external border security, a sizeable jump from the €5.6 billion allocated in the previous budgetary period. Development assistance for sub-Saharan Africa in this budget is expected to be increased slightly, but in real terms will go from €26 billion in the previous period to €28 billion in the next. What should European governments be doing to help African states handle the seemingly insurmountable hurdles that confront them, while at the same time preventing climate change from aggravating them? A study by Wolfram Schlenker and his colleagues at New York’s Columbia University in December 2017 suggested that the effects of global warming could triple the number of migrants heading for Europe by 2100.5 Few would dispute the charge that development assistance has yet to deliver adequate results. Both donors and recipients are dissatisfied. Arguments about aid’s effectiveness have rumbled on for years, and now the spectre of uncontrollable emigration towards Europe is adding a sharper edge. Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo’s 2009 book Dead Aid challenged both European and American aid methods. She argued that a dependency on foreign aid has made Africans poorer because it has prevented them from crafting their own development models. ‘African countries need trade and they need investment,’ she


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wrote. ‘To the extent that China, or anybody else – India, Turkey, Russia or Brazil – bring new trading and investment opportunities to Africa, that’s good news.’ Radical changes to aid are proposed by a number of economists. Sir Angus Deaton, a British-American economist at Princeton University, has suggested that to avoid money being misspent by corrupt governments it should be directed to helping refugees and migrants, and to funding health programmes. He believes it should also be matched by trade policies designed to combat poverty.6 Oxford University’s Sir Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion, a book on development policy solutions, and co-author of the more recent book Refuge on refugee policies, has suggested that shifting aid towards support for private sector businesses would do much to help low-income countries. As well as the familiar criticisms that ministerial corruption in African countries diverts development assistance, other difficulties are blunting the effectiveness of aid. Climate change in Africa is increasing the need for more emergency funding. Insurers like Swiss Re reported in 2016 that natural catastrophes around the world cost $166 billion, with less than a third of that covered by insurance. Aid donors must therefore rethink long-standing practices. And that means that African governments receiving aid must change too. Both sides have to undertake realistic reassessments of what works and what does not. In spite of Africa’s mounting difficulties, the aid money and the external funds that flow into it are rising, so the $180 billion that poured into Africa in 2017 gave a substantial boost to national economies. Official development aid rose 1.4 per cent over the previous year, foreign investment by companies was up 1.9 per cent and the remittances sent by Africans working overseas rose by 2.4 per cent. These figures at first sight suggest development is on the up and up. But that’s not the opinion of those who believe aid is exacerbating Africa’s difficulties. A particularly caustic view of development assistance comes from Ghanaian economist George Ayittey, author of a book called Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyranny in Africa and Around the World. He believes there are two competing forces in Africa – the

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


‘cheetah generation’ of new entrepreneurs akin to Asian countries’ tigers, and the ‘hippo generation’. An exemplary cheetah is Togolese entrepreneur Afate Gnikou, who has been singled out by the African Development Bank as a signpost to the future because he crowdfunded the capital for a prototype 3D printer made out of Togo’s recycled electronic waste. Selling for less than $100, his revolutionary product won an international prize for manufacturing technologies. Set against the cheetahs are the hippos, that Ayittey describes as ‘stuck in their muddy colonialist patch . . . comfortable in the belief that the state can cure all of Africa’s problems.’ The hippos, needless to say, continue to survive because of aid payments. So how much progress are the cheetahs making? A statistical picture compiling figures from over fifty African states should be treated with caution, although it is certainly true that Africa’s macroeconomic prospects improved after 2015, having been in the doldrums for a decade. The overall 2.2 per cent GDP growth of 2016 rose to 3.4 per cent in 2017, and was heading to 4.3 per cent for 2018. But a closer look shows that the more important indicators still point downwards; they are especially gloomy where it matters most – jobs. With four-fifths of all jobs in Africa in what is politely termed the ‘informal sector’, meaning they are unregistered, untaxed and extremely insecure, there is no firm basis for a properly functioning labour market. These jobs were the first to suffer from Covid-19, with the UN’s employment specialists at the International Labour Office (ILO) in Geneva forecasting in April 2020 that an estimated 1.4 to 1.6 billion informal jobs would probably be lost once the post-coronavirus recession began to bite. The jobs picture was already bleak. The African Development Bank (AfDB) had said of many countries’ seemingly encouraging GDP growth rates that these ‘have not generated much employment’. It added that half of young Africans were either unemployed or have given up any hope of finding a paid job, and so are classed as ‘inactive’, while the jobs held by a further 35 per cent of youthful African workers are very vulnerable.7 The ILO had issued a downbeat analysis of the employment


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prospects of African youth long before Covid-19. It estimated that Africa’s school-leavers, and young people in general, were three times more likely to be unemployed than their elders. Worse, the ILO warned of the alarming correlation in Africa between education and joblessness.8 Africans with a university degree or equivalent are two to three times more likely to find themselves unemployed than those with no more than a primary school education. This at first sounds wrong because it gainsays all the accepted arguments in favour of a massive educational push. On closer inspection it makes good sense. In countries where more structured economic activities are neither widespread nor firmly rooted, large informal economies favour employment for the unskilled while the underdeveloped formal economy is too small to provide job opportunities for those with higher qualifications. More bad news for Africa’s educated young is that the continent’s manufacturing sector is shrinking; job opportunities that had been expected to increase are instead evaporating. Since the early 1990s, the share of manufacturing in Africa’s overall GDP has sunk from 17 per cent to 11 per cent. With industrialized countries, notably those in the EU, struggling in the aftermath of Covid-19 to bring manufacturing jobs home and limit the vulnerability of their global supply chains, the prospects for African industries are getting poorer. Advocates of ‘Africa Rising’ had been pointing to projections that by 2025 African consumers will spend the equivalent of over €2 trillion a year on goods and services, and that business-to-business exchanges will add a further €3.3 trillion a year to that. The sheer energy of many Africans may yet bear these forecasts out, but these encouraging figures have in any case to be divided into Africa’s growing population. Where is the EU in all this? A European strategy exists, although more in name than in practice. The Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) was launched to considerable fanfare in 2007 as the framework for an ambitious new approach to kickstarting an African economic boom. In practice it has had little real impact. The EU has operated eight funding instruments, the largest of which has been the €30 billion European

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


Development Fund spanning 2014–20 with a focus is on poverty reduction, humanitarian aid, human rights and peace-building. What the JAES doesn’t amount to is any sort of European ‘master plan’ for Africa. That would be anathema to Africans, as well as prohibitively expensive at a time when EU public opinion is suffering from aid fatigue. On the other hand, EU and national policymakers plainly cannot continue to allow Africa’s problems to multiply faster than the solutions. African governments’ prickly sensitivities and nationalistic rivalries make it hard for the EU to take a broadly based approach, but it is needed nonetheless.

Prioritizing Africa’s backward agriculture In those relatively halcyon pre-Covid-19 times, analyses of Africa’s capital and labour markets, and of business trends conveyed a mildly encouraging impression. But those rosier predictions of urban economic development belied Africa’s deep-seated reliance on subsistence farming and the inability of smallholdings to provide enough food or livelihoods for a growing population. Unless farming can be revolutionised, more and more young Africans will gravitate to the cities or emigrate to Europe. Making agriculture more efficient and profitable is crucially important to Africa’s future. Seven Africans in ten still depend on farming and related activities for their livelihoods, but these smallholders are locked into poverty by ancient and uneconomic farming methods. Poverty leads to big families, so introducing technology to improve the living standards of farmers could help to slow population growth. A study in Tanzania found that 70 per cent of farmers use no other implement than a hoe. As that country’s population of 10 million is expected to double by 2035 and reach 55 million by mid-century, Tanzania, like many other African countries, must think in terms of doubling its output of food over the next fifteen years, and quintupling it by 2050.


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Because Africa as a whole has increased its agricultural production fourfold since 1960, that might seem an attainable target. In fact, that increase wasn’t achieved through greater productivity but through cultivating more land. And that’s going to be a big problem in the years ahead, even if statistically almost half the world’s 200 million hectares of uncultivated land are in Africa. Policymakers who are scratching their heads over how to feed a world population set to top 10 billion within forty years, point to Africa as a crucial element of any solution. The reality, though, is that much of Africa’s uncultivated land consists of rainforests unsuited to farming. Rather than creating more farmland in inaccessible and unpromising regions, the better answer is to bring about huge productivity improvements. An immediate target should be to reduce Africa’s food import bill of $50 billion a year. The foreign exchange drained away every year to pay for food imports could fund job-creating industrial development. Just as urgent is the need to counter climate change before it’s too late. Only 3 per cent of African agricultural land is irrigated, so 97 per cent relies on rain. Increased drought is encroaching so much on traditional farmlands that climate scientists warn that by 2050 crop yields in Africa are likely to be a fifth lower than now. And that’s providing the COP21 Paris Agreement of 2015 is observed and the target of limiting global warming to 2°C is met. Africa’s deepening agriculture crisis will have global consequences. Unless its output of cereals can be tripled by 2050, the growing numbers of Africans who at present are simply undernourished will face starvation. That spells mass migrations, both within Africa and to Europe. Europe’s contribution to resolving these problems is obvious, but has long been too politically explosive to contemplate: scrap the more contentious and outmoded of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies and open EU markets more widely to African producers. Reducing financial support for Europe’s hard-pressed smaller farmers, and reviewing the devices they rely on to limit competitively

Only Help for Africa can Stem Migrant Surges


priced imports, could prove highly explosive in rural regions that in pre-coronavirus days were already feeling ‘left behind’ and are now suffering the hardships of the global recession. Opening European markets to African produce might nevertheless be the lesser of two evils. The lesson of Covid-19 has been that European agriculture is far more vulnerable than had been thought, and that rising food prices could best be dampened by cheaper imports. The pandemic barred the way to most of the migrant seasonal workers from Eastern Europe and elsewhere who picked fruit and vegetables, and bankrupted substantial sectors of the food supply chain. Europe’s mainstream politicians should therefore reflect on the choice between rethinking the CAP or facing surging migration from Africa. They can either favour lower consumer prices by admitting cheaper African produce, or prepare for more upsets and populist inroads as migration tensions intensify. Europe’s farm sector employs less than 2 per cent of the workforce, so the political fallout would be far smaller than when the CAP was fashioned six decades ago in the early days of the European Economic Community. Switching the CAP away from subsidies that favour large farmers, nowadays the target of policymakers anxious to help smallholders and niche producers, would do much to help Africa. The political consequences would also be relatively limited when compared to the rising tensions over immigration. As one Moroccan government minister put it to EU officials: ‘Isn’t the choice between buying our tomatoes, or allowing our people to pick your tomatoes?’ Reducing migratory pressures through imaginative reforms of the CAP would be Europe’s more attractive option. Whatever steps Europe eventually takes must be dovetailed with the policies of African countries. So far there has been no sign of any sort of ‘grand bargain’ between the EU and the members of the African Union, even though the need for one is overwhelming for both. But where are the leaders with enough courage to tell Europeans and Africans they cannot do without each other?



Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates

Europe’s newcomers all have their own stories, hopes, strengths and failings, yet they risk being indiscriminately labelled and shunned. Ill-informed prejudices may brand them as idlers bent on exploiting host countries’ generosity, if not criminals, but such smears create damaging tensions and make it harder to harness their huge potential. Severely frostbitten feet were Sweden’s gift to Mohammed Ethman, or rather the price he paid for escaping shoeless from prison there. His European odyssey has taken him from his native Libya through a dozen countries. Fingerprinted and sent on his way in some, jailed in others, he has lived in the legal limbo of a migrant who can’t return home but is told to move on wherever he goes. Mohammed is in his mid-thirties and nowadays calls himself Jakob. He plans to settle in Flanders and is working on adding Dutch to his fluent English. After protracted deliberation, the Belgian authorities finally granted him asylum following an unsuccessful application in Germany. He got lucky in Brussels when a migrant support network helped him with lodgings. His four-year zig-zag journey around Europe means he’s seen more of it than any truck driver; all of Scandinavia, Poland, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the UK. His Libyan passport was confiscated and then returned, and at times he travelled on a fake Belgian ID card and the forged Swedish passport he obtained in Albania. Jakob’s determined effort to settle somewhere – anywhere – in Europe began with the ousting and death in 2011 of Libya’s strongman 131


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president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the ensuing chaos and conflict that continues to this day. His parents took refuge in Egypt and he abandoned his clerical civil service job to try his luck abroad. He flew via Istanbul to Stockholm, where his troubles began. He was to discover that Sweden’s refusal to grant him refugee status meant that under the European Union’s Dublin Regulation he risked being sent back by to his original EU entry point and then deported. Every refugee or migrant has a personal story to tell. Yet Jakob’s tale of his wanderings and his brushes with the law paints a vivid picture of the fate that awaits many young hopefuls. They have become a familiar sight in Europe’s cities: disconsolate groups of youthful Arabs and Africans wandering aimlessly and waiting . . . waiting for something to happen. So, who are these newcomers? More to the point, who do we Europeans think they are? The first advice Jakob received when he arrived in Belgium was to shave off his beard. ‘It makes you look like a jihadi,’ he was told. That sums up the fears and suspicions colouring the attitudes of many in Europe who believe the ranks of the refugees contain militant Islamist jihadis bent on wreaking terror. The notion is plainly absurd. ‘They are far more likely to arrive by air than in a rubber dinghy,’ drily commented Human Rights Watch chief, Kenneth Roth, in 2016, observing that many potential terrorists were in any case EU nationals. Pope Francis echoed the point when he used his New Year’s address at the Vatican in January 2018 to plead for greater tolerance: ‘Those who foment fear of migrants are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia.’ The socio-economic spectrum of newcomers being drawn to Europe ranges from illiterate masses to celebrated pioneers of scientific research. Many are from the professional classes, notably the highly educated people who accounted for about a quarter of the adult refugees from Syria. Their contributions to European society are already being warmly welcomed by healthcare services and private sector employers. European universities, like those of the United States, have attracted foreign researchers and academics for many years. In 2010, the UK’s

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


Manchester University announced that the Nobel prize for physics had been awarded to two Russian scientists working there. Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim developed the techniques to isolate and examine a wonder material called graphene that, among its many properties, may hold the answer to making sea water drinkable. The list of Europe’s Nobel laureates is peppered with migrants. Ilya Prigogine, arguably the most illustrious of Belgium’s scientists and winner of the Nobel chemistry prize in 1977, also hailed from Russia. France’s physics prizewinner in 2012, Serge Haroche, was born in Morocco, and fifteen years earlier, the prize was won by his fellow French physicist, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, who came from Algeria. Two Romanians were among Germany’s Nobel prizewinners: the first in 2009 and then in 2014. And both Hungary and the UK have chalked up chemistry Nobels in this century that were won by Israeli scientists. In the United States, where handsome research grants are a powerful pull factor for geographically mobile scientists, all six science Nobel laureates of 2017 were awarded to immigrants. On average, 40 per cent of American Nobel prizewinners since the year 2000 came from outside the United States. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, was born in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, its co-founder, Sergey Brin, in Moscow, and Satya Nadella, who heads Microsoft, hails from Hyderabad in India. It is reckoned that immigrants launched half of all the United States startups that have grown to billion dollar-plus corporations. Much the same pattern is taking shape in Europe’s universities, where EU-backed funding and research frameworks have led to a cross-fertilization of students and teachers within Europe and from around the world. The phenomenon didn’t attract much attention until new immigration controls began to threaten it. In the UK, before Brexit cast its long shadow, foreign students were bringing in over £12 billion a year in foreign exchange. A sizeable number of them, perhaps as many as 15–20 per cent, had been staying on after graduation to make a life in Britain. But now the stricter visa controls, designed to discourage both EU and non-European migrant labour, are changing that.


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The lower end of the socio-economic spectrum The fact that a growing number of immigrants step straight into a job and contribute to European society receives little public attention. It is migrants’ misbehaviour that receives the glare of publicity. Even in more migrant-friendly countries like Germany and Sweden attention is often fixed on notorious episodes like the mass sex attacks against young women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve 2015, or gun battles between drugs gangs on the streets of Malmö in Sweden. Much the same stories are told in other European countries where immigrant communities have, rightly or wrongly, gained a reputation for law-breaking and violence. There’s no denying such offences take place, but the underlying picture is complex. There’s a vicious circle in inner cities where poverty and joblessness in migrant communities have spawned criminality, especially among young males, and there are also cultural difficulties relating to attitudes towards women. As well as tensions between immigrants and native Europeans, ethnic rivalries and centuries-old religious differences sometimes pit some migrant communities against others. Nobody can say how widespread immigrant criminality actually is. The distorting lens of media reports makes it difficult to measure with any degree of accuracy. An analysis by German newsweekly Der Spiegel has cast serious doubts over the true scale. The magazine’s reporters looked at some 450 news reports of migrant crimes, some online and others in mainstream media, and found they greatly misrepresented the problem. Dismissing many of these apparently authoritative reports of migrant offences as ‘baseless rumours’, Der Spiegel reported that only fifty or so refugees had in fact been convicted, while a third of the reported incidents had not taken place at all. Another third did indeed concern non-European suspects, but roughly the same number of EU citizens, including Germans, were involved in similar cases. Furthermore, the internet enables politically motivated anti-migrant ‘citizen journalists’ to repackage incidents and push them to go viral.

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


Migrants’ criminality can be exaggerated by the way statistics are compiled. The Swedish government’s information service illustrated this when it sought to downplay official crime figures, notably those for rape. It pointed out that in Sweden ‘if a woman says her husband raped her every night, that is recorded as 365 different crimes, whereas in most countries it would be registered as a single offence, or not at all.’ The amount of migrant crime can be similarly misrepresented. Some aspects of immigrant criminality are impossible to ignore. The increased incidence of shoot-outs and gun battles in Sweden between migrant gangs is dramatic; they numbered 300 separate incidents in 2017, with over 40 deaths and 100 people injured. Almost half of the shootings were in Stockholm, double the previous year’s tally, and the capital’s overwhelmingly migrant northern suburb of Rinkeby is home to a notorious gang of criminal migrants calling themselves the ‘Death Patrol’. What these statistics tend to obscure is that second-generation immigrants rather than newcomers are often at the core of gang violence. Amir Rostami, a Stockholm University researcher has concluded that the difficulties of finding employment in a high-skills labour market like Sweden’s are a significant factor. Gang membership offers young men a tempting alternative to what may be a lifetime of unemployment. To that sense of empowerment and self-respect must be added the pressure of natives’ attacks on the newcomers. Just as many warmhearted Germans were settling to the task of lodging, feeding and integrating the migrant influxes, others were responding in a very different manner. Violent assaults on migrants rose to almost ten a day during 2016. The interior ministry in Berlin reported in early 2017 that over 500 refugees, including 43 children, had been injured in 3,500 attacks against individuals and on their hostels. Egged on by the anti-immigrant sentiments of the right-wing AfD (Alternative für Deutschland) party and the Pegida movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident), marches and street protests have fanned the flames of violence.


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The vigilante groups who marched through German cities were spurred on by what they saw as a crime wave created by migrants. Other interior ministry figures for 2016 saw a 52 per cent increase in reported crimes from the year before, with 174,000 people from non-EU countries suspected of committing them. The interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, announced that ‘crimes committed by immigrants saw a disproportionate increase last year – there’s nothing there we can gloss over.’ As well as an increase in petty thefts, he noted that for violent crimes there were ‘about 90 per cent more immigrant suspects in 2016 than in the previous year.’ German criminal statistics relating to immigration are comparable to those of Sweden, so the sad irony is that Europe’s two most migrantfriendly countries are also the foremost victims of migrant criminality. This to some degree reflects the way that people smuggling has become key to most migrants’ chances of reaching Europe, and remains integral to their lives after they’ve arrived. The many migrants who arrive illegally are the first to fall prey to criminals. When Europol, the EU law enforcement agency based in The Hague, looked at the 2015 influx, it found that over 90 per cent of that year’s million-plus irregular migrants had paid people smugglers. It put the number of smugglers at over 40,000 people organized in loose criminal networks. Europol singled out the networks operating in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland, and reckoned that 30 per cent of these were made up of EU nationals. It reported that there are now 230 people-smuggling ‘hot spots’ around Europe and beyond.1 Europol’s underlying point is that the many ancillary activities that surround people smuggling – the forced labour and sexual exploitation used to make migrants pay for their travel and documentation – have created a world of criminality that quickly engulfs newcomers. Richard Staring of the Department of Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam believes that EU governments are themselves to blame for what he has labelled ‘crimmigation’. Although criminal law and immigration law are separate codes, he says they are being merged and overlapped as a way of dealing with problems that stem from migration.

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


This blurring of two different legal regimes, Staring warns, is confusing the ways in which illegal immigration can be tackled. If, for instance, someone is classed as an ‘undesirable alien’ it becomes more difficult to deport them, so they face longer periods of detention. In other words, by resorting to criminal law as a shortcut to addressing illegal immigration, some EU governments are creating legal minefields that delay rather than accelerate solutions.2 The issues surrounding deportation are tangled and profoundly unsatisfactory. It’s expensive to arrange, the deportees are usually hard to find, and most countries of origin are uncooperative. After sifting through more than a million asylum applications, the German authorities decided by late 2017 to deny half of them, thus raising the awkward question of how they should be dealt with. The deportation of half a million rejected asylum seekers seemed the obvious answer, but practically and politically it was a non-starter. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party opposed deportation, calling the idea ‘Nazi’. Meanwhile, rounding up so many deportees and organizing their return was seen to impose heavy clerical and administrative costs on bureaucracies still reeling from so many newcomers. Germany had already had a foretaste in 2015 of the difficulties involved in deporting people. The authorities arranged a charter flight at a cost of €163,000 to return illegal migrants to Georgia, but in the event only twenty deportees could be found, leaving officials to ruefully conclude that it would have been much cheaper to arrange first-class commercial air travel. Deporting irregular migrants is not just a German problem. Asylum ‘courts’ across Europe that process applications have in some countries rejected up to 70 per cent of them. Technically, and indeed legally, those failed cases are then subject to deportation. In the real world, however, what happens is that they melt back into the twilight world of ‘sans papiers’, as undocumented illegals are called in France and Belgium. Transforming failed asylum seekers into illicit job-seekers makes matters worse. Crimes that range from pickpocketing to burglary, and from petty thefts to robbery with violence, are the inevitable result of


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outlawing so many people. Antisocial behaviour among illegal migrants is exacerbated, too, by policing methods that are at times unacceptably brutal. Human Rights Watch recorded serious incidents of violence when French police cleared the ‘Jungle’ squatters’ camp outside the port of Calais, including the use of tear gas. Dealing with large groups of young Africans, Arabs and Afghans who are both frustrated and frightened isn’t easy. Police forces throughout Europe are challenged by their lawlessness and by the pressures exerted by indignant citizens who feel threatened. Until there are clearer policies on the rights of these irregular migrants, and the limitations on how they should be handled, EU countries will keep on making matters worse. The problem is a good deal wider than bands of footloose young men unable to cross the English Channel, or any of Europe’s other national frontiers. Disaffected youths now come in all shapes and sizes, with the homeless squatters of encampments on the coast of northern France adding just another layer to the misery of migrants. Second- and even third-generation immigrant communities are breeding grounds for criminality and defiance of civil authority. The scale of organized crime in Europe is taking on epic proportions, according to an EU-backed project called the Organised Crime Portfolio (OCP). Its analysts at the Joint Research Centre of Transnational Crime in Trento, Italy, estimate that drugs, people smuggling, sex trafficking and suchlike amount to a yearly turnover of at least $120 billion. How much of that can be attributed to migrantrelated criminality is debatable, but the OCP researchers have paralleled the sharp increase in mafia-style activities with the rise in migrants’ numbers.3

Sorting criminal migrants from jihadist terrorists Europol’s report on security problems associated with migration came at a time when the public mood around Europe was one of near-

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


hysteria. The organization’s British chief from 2009 to 2018, Sir Rob Wainwright, stated that ‘fewer than 0.01 per cent of terrorist suspects had migrant links,’ but that fell on deaf ears. European public opinion has nevertheless become convinced that jihadist suicide bombers mingle with innocent refugees as part of Islamist terrorist campaigns. In June 2016, a Europe-wide opinion survey of 10,000 respondents by the Pew Research Center found that 60 per cent believed the influx of refugees ‘increases the likelihood of terrorism.’4 These fears stemmed from the way the ‘migrant crisis’ of 2015–16 had been accompanied by a spate of attacks ordered or inspired either by al-Qaeda or the so-called Islamic State. Counter-terrorism experts saw these as a response to their own setbacks in Syria and Iraq, but media reporting gave short shrift to Europol’s reassurances that ‘members of terrorist groupings, or returning foreign fighters with EU nationality, typically do not rely on the facilitation services offered by migrant smuggling networks.’ The violent deaths and maimings by jihadists seemed unending. Three bombings in Brussels, two at Zaventem airport and another in a metro station not far from the EU’s main buildings, had killed 32 people and injured 340 in March 2016. These events followed serious attacks in Paris on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket in January 2015, and then in November on the Bataclan theatre when 130 concertgoers were machine-gunned to death. Within weeks of the Europol report intending to calm public concerns, a tragic attack on the Côte d’Azur during France’s 14 July national holiday reignited anti-immigrant sentiments. Eighty-six Bastille Day revellers were crushed to death and almost 500 injured, when a newly radicalized second-generation Tunisian truck driver ploughed his articulated lorry into crowds thronging Nice’s seafront Promenade des Anglais. Other outrages – notably in London, Manchester and Berlin – have hardened prejudices against the Arab world. The result is that Islamic


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fundamentalists can be said to have set Europe’s political agenda. The fallout from these attacks is relandscaping the familiar left-right balance between parties, introducing a far more volatile strain of populist politics. Emmanuel Macron’s election to the French presidency in May 2017 was widely ascribed to voters’ rejection of the ardently anti-migrant Marine Le Pen. In their televised confrontation just before polling day, Macron is thought to have clinched his victory by suggesting that the leaders of Islamic fundamentalism were hoping for a Le Pen victory, as her promised clampdown on migrants would spark the unbridled violence they yearn for. French voters, it has been suggested, were aware of the dangers of hard-line anti-Muslim policies. If so, that relatively sophisticated approach has not been echoed throughout Europe. A wave of antiimmigrant sentiment has swept populists on the far right to the political forefront, and sometimes into office. Racism has been midwife to the birth of new parties and movements that are upsetting mainstream politics. In Germany, Angela Merkel’s position as the highly respected and hugely powerful federal chancellor was weakened when disappointing election results in the autumn of 2017 reflected a growing backlash against her open doors acceptance of refugees and the Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) of integrating them into German society. In Italy, anti-immigrant stances seemed the sole common denominator in the bizarre alliance that brought populists from the far left and far right together in the spring of 2018 in a particularly unsteady coalition government. The centre-right Austrian government that took the reins of the EU’s revolving six-month presidency in mid-2018 owes its existence to a coalition deal with the fervently anti-migrant rightwingers of the Freedom Party of Austria (FP Ö ). And at about the same time, elections in Slovenia saw the anti-immigrant Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) taking power. In Scandinavia, surges in support for anti-immigrant parties have been equally spectacular, perhaps more so because they run counter to

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


Nordic countries’ long-standing reputation for liberal open-mindedness. The far right nationalist Sweden Democrats party, which for a quarter of a century had languished on the political fringes, has been transformed by rising support for its anti-migrant platform. In Denmark, the Danish People’s Party risks being outflanked by ‘Nye Borgerlige’, the New Right party that is even more hostile to immigration. In the UK, needless to say, immigration was the issue that did much to decide the outcome of the mid-2016 Brexit referendum, and set the country on its radical, divisive and highly controversial path away from continental Europe.

How real is the jihadist threat? It is hard to gauge the interplay between local resentments in European countries against the presence of migrants and the more general sense of foreboding over Islamic militancy and terrorism. What is undeniable is that immigration is a catalyst altering the molecular structure of European democracies. To the familiar left-right tensions must be added a third dimension of pro- and anti-migration sentiments. It’s anyone’s guess how these shifts will develop further in a political climate that throughout Europe is being polarised and embittered by the coronavirus-led depression. Perhaps common sense and realism will prevail, and Europe, as in centuries past, will adapt to its larger migrant population and become progressively more multicultural. It could be, though, that the intensifying pressures of economic hardship and sustained immigration will see Europeans tear apart their fragile unity. The short-sighted refusal of EU governments to cooperate on immigration policies is only one facet of Europeans’ very different attitudes to Islam. A better understanding of Islam will be essential, not least because as a faith it is enjoying an impressive surge in growth, whereas Christianity is not. Almost a quarter of the global population is made up of practising and non-practising Muslims, and over a quarter of the countries in the


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world are majority Muslim. By mid-century Islam is due to overtake the various styles of Christianity and become the world’s leading religion. Islam is no different to Christianity in its fragmentation into subdivisions that are often marked by antagonisms that exacerbate tensions. Debate rages over the extent to which the more militant of these pose a security threat to Europe. It is a discussion that has been brought into sharp focus by an intellectual vendetta – one might even say a war of ideas – fought between two prominent French experts on Islam. Gilles Kepel, a distinguished Arabist who teaches at Sciences Po, the Sorbonne’s political science faculty in Paris, believes the religious fervour of Islamist fundamentalism is chiefly responsible for the terrorist threat. The problem is made all the more acute in France because 1,800 of the 6,000 fighters who left Western Europe to join ISIS in Syria or Iraq were French. The cells formed by those who returned to France and Belgium, he suggests, have formed the backbone of jihadist terrorism. In his book Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West, Kepel sees the emergence of ultra-conservative Salafism as the breeding ground for a new generation of violent Islamists.5 But it’s a standpoint flatly rejected by the authoritative French political scientist Olivier Roy. He insists that the anger of young Muslims has little to do with Salafism, and that the problem isn’t ‘the radicalisation of Islam, but the Islamisation of radicalism.’ In other words, it is less a religious thing than a social phenomenon occasioned by young second-generation migrants’ despair over their lack of opportunity. Arguments over the nature of ‘home grown’ terrorism have been dividing academics and politicians for some time. The British public was horrified when it emerged that the July 2005 tube train and bus bombings in central London had been carried out by well-educated young men from Asian communities in northern England. It is a pattern that Europe has become uncomfortably familiar with. There is a similarly divisive debate in the United States. Twenty years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, American experts like Robert Leiken, then head of the Nixon Center’s Immigration and National Security Program,

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


began to warn of the jihadist threat and its roots in immigrant communities. ‘Jihadist networks span Europe from Poland to Portugal,’ he wrote in a mid-2005 Foreign Affairs article entitled ‘Europe’s Angry Muslims’. He believed this was ‘thanks to the spread of radical Islam among the descendants of guest workers recruited to shore up Europe’s postwar economic miracle.’6 The pattern that emerges from all this is that whether or not jihadists are driven by religious conviction, it isn’t newly arrived migrants who pose a threat. Rather, it is second- or even third- generation young people born into immigrant communities who are more likely to be among the very small percentage who become radicalized. Think tankers at the Cato Institute in Washington, DC pointed out in September 2016 that with more than 900,000 refugees resettled in the United States since 9/11, they calculated that ‘Americans have a one in 3.64 billion chance of being killed by a refugee.’7 The odds for Europeans are similar, if slightly less astronomical, and are improving as security measures are tightened. The EU’s counterterrorism coordinator in Brussels, Gilles de Kerchove, reckons that the ambitious €500 million information framework that is being put in place will pay handsome dividends. ‘Within five or six years,’ he said in December 2017, ‘Europe will have completed a highly efficient interconnected system of data bases to strengthen cross-border security.’ De Kerchove took over the post of counter-terrorism ‘czar’ in 2007, and believes that the relevant national authorities in Europe have learned a great deal since then about risk indicators and new biometric techniques for tracking suspected terrorists. He is nevertheless concerned that the religious factor is important. ‘The spread of Wahhabism,’ he says of the ultra-conservative Islamist doctrine akin to Salafism, ‘is a worry, and an EU policy to combat it is needed. The first step towards that is to have a difficult conversation with Saudi Arabia.’ De Kerchove, who is himself Belgian, is referring to the tense relations between the governments of Belgium and Saudi Arabia over the allegedly radical teachings of imams at the Grand Mosque of Brussels.


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The Belgians had cancelled the rent-free ninety-nine-year deal they granted the Saudi government in 1969. It was the country’s first mosque, and standing almost next door to the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters has come to be seen as the symbol of an increasingly troubled relationship. Gilles de Kerchove is anxious that ‘petrodollars and the internet should not become a dangerous cocktail’ in the hands of jihadists. ‘The best way to reconcile the public with migration,’ he adds, ‘is to convince them that the Islamic threat is under control.’ Not everyone in Brussels shares this view. At the Egmont Institute, the Brussels think tank backed by the Belgian foreign ministry, Rik Coolsaet has an opinion similar to that of French expert Olivier Roy. ‘There’s no conveyor belt from religious orthodoxy to violence,’ he says, ‘but that has become the conventional wisdom.’ Prof. Coolsaet specializes in counter-terrorism and jihadism, and believes that religion played a very minor part in the recruitment from immigrant communities of young Belgians who went to join the ISIS and Daesh forces in Syria or Iraq. ‘None of the 500 or so young men, along with perhaps two or three young women, had followed religious instruction. The appeal was one of lifestyle, not religion.’ The answer, he emphasizes, is to address the sense of social exclusion in immigrant communities. ‘We need a new social contract, and more inclusive social policies. And that in turn means a greater economic effort because exclusion is a product of low growth.’ That’s for the longer term, of course. The more immediate preoccupation among the experts is how to deal with radicalized youth in Europe’s inner cities. As a British expert on loan to the EU from the UK’s Home Office, Hugo MacPherson has advocated a stronger emphasis on communications techniques capable of reducing the likelihood of spontaneous jihadism. MacPherson and his colleagues at Brussels-based EU Strategic Communications Network (ESCN) aims to share European countries’ expertise more widely, and to encourage them to develop closer links with immigrant communities. As an Arabist who at one point worked

Jihadis, Gangsters and Nobel Laureates


in Doha at the Qatari-funded Al Jazeera TV station, he’s unimpressed by the way radicalization is often handled. ‘Our view [at ESCN] is that counter-terrorism is not being done well, and that most EU countries are struggling,’ he comments. His criticism is that classic security actors like police and intelligence outfits have had a vested interest in exaggerating the threat of Islamic terrorism: ‘It’s been an empire-builder’s dream.’ Instead of relying on a heavier hand, says MacPherson, governments should be taking a softer approach. They need to rely more on open source material and look at patterns of behaviour so they can better target their communications in ways that discourage radicalization: ‘Our aim is to increase investments in communications that prevent the polarisation of immigrant communities.’

Looking ahead: The migrants of tomorrow Newspaper and TV coverage of terrorism in Europe has been so intense that it takes an effort of will to recall that it’s a dwindling problem, not an intensifying one. The surge in immigration and a handful of largescale terrorist attacks killing many people – what the specialists call ‘spectaculars’ – combine to give a very different impression. The 1970s witnessed a Europe-wide spate of unrelated nationalist and ideological outrages by groups that ranged from the Provisional IRA in Ulster to the Basque separatist ETA and the various splinter factions of the Red Brigades in Italy and West Germany. The worst years were 1978, when there were more than a thousand separate incidents, and 1991 when there were almost eight hundred. In a 2017 report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, security expert Anthony Cordesman explained that ‘the impact of terrorism peaked in the 1970s. It rose again in 1991, driven by terrorist attacks in the Balkans, Palestinian violence, and terrorism in the former Soviet Union and Russia.’ He added that it climbed upwards again in 2014 and 2015, driven both by violent


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Islamist extremism and by terrorist activity in the Ukraine.8 That’s a snapshot of terrorism in Europe at the close of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Future spectaculars wreaking horrendous carnage may lie ahead, but the fifty-year trend line points downwards. Europe, meanwhile, faces a future of rising immigration, so the challenge in security terms will be to ensure that the arrival of more migrants doesn’t somehow translate into greater tensions and rising violence. The evidence so far suggests that jihadist terrorism isn’t conducted by dispirited refugees or hungry job-seekers, but by disappointed, downtrodden young people born in Europe to migrant parents. In other words, that the potential terrorists are already here. That doesn’t mean that Europe’s frontier security forces should drop their guard. The EU’s de Kerchove points out that the aggressive doctrines of Wahhabism are spreading rapidly in Mali, Niger and the Horn of Africa, from where many future migrants can be expected to come. But it does mean that policymakers should be looking more closely at ways to defuse tensions in existing migrant communities. Among the tensions to be addressed there is the acute gender imbalance of the migrant influxes since 2015. Refugees from Syria and Iraq often consisted of families, but since then there has been a preponderance of young males. This so-called ‘man problem’ is a cause for concern that needs to be addressed. It isn’t a new problem. In 2012, two-thirds of asylum seekers in Europe were either youths or young men under 35. By 2015 that had risen to almost three-quarters. Unless balanced by an organized acceptance, and indeed recruitment, of young women from African and Arab countries, the outlook is likely to be very difficult. Sexually frustrated young males have the potential to create huge social difficulties, greatly compounding the political tensions over migration. Europe’s national governments cannot afford to let migration’s tensions fester. Ensuring the influxes of refugees and economic migrants were fed and housed was their immediate priority, but this must not slow the creation of strategies for social change. Proactive policies must

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fit newcomers to Europe’s cultural and behavioural expectations and must strive harder to address anti-migrant prejudices. When he was UN Special Representative for international migration, the late Peter Sutherland warned that ‘Muslim migrants are perceived as seventy times more numerous than in reality.’ He was warning that this perception must be corrected before it translates into social and racial conflict. But that is already the case, as witnessed by the rise in hate crimes. A body known as ENAR, the European Network Against Racism, reported that the UK topped the hate crimes league with 76 hate incidents per 100,000 people in 2016; in 2017 that number had risen by 42 per cent following the Brexit referendum.



More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19 Labour Markets?

Until Covid-19 and social distancing overhauled work practices, the accelerating digital revolution was expected to decide migrants’ roles in the future workplace. Now, the accent is on countering unemployment and meeting demands for greater social justice. Improved pay and conditions for public services could benefit migrants and attract more of them. New technologies are set to reshape many jobs, but migrant labour will still be needed to address labour shortages and buttress shrinking tax revenues. The coronavirus is having a devastating impact on the world of work as well as wreaking havoc in the global economy. Social distancing has brought many long-standing practices to a shuddering halt and, despite all the talk of a ‘fairer’ post-coronavirus world, is deepening the divide between ‘intellectual’ jobs that rely less on face-to-face contacts and ‘manual’ ones that cannot avoid them. The political consequences of Covid-19 are so far unknowable; much will depend on the speed of economic recovery around the world. But we can already see the more likely shifts in employment, and how these might affect migrant workers. Underlying labour shortages still threaten most European countries, as does the prospect of dwindling numbers of taxpayers. Before assessing the impact of digital technologies on post-Covid-19 work practices, it’s worth looking at the levelling effects of governments’ fiscal policies in response to coronavirus. In Britain, the United States and throughout Europe, governments’ main policy thrusts were to preserve jobs by subsidizing locked-down companies’ payroll costs. 149


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Governments thus found themselves almost overnight to have become employers of last resort. Their bail-out schemes had another feature in common; all were potential templates for the sort of Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme that before coronavirus was widely derided. Advocates of UBI have for some time claimed that it would tackle a wide range of difficulties thrown up by demographic and technological challenges. Instead of the complex array of social benefits that make up welfare safety nets in most European countries, they asked, why not pay a basic ‘state salary’ to one and all? It is a cry that can now be heard around the world, in countries like India as well as in wealthier ones. Paying for UBI, it is said, is much the same as funding unemployment benefit or emergency relief, and offers an appealing base for a new social contract that, in the aftermath of Covid-19, could help defuse political tensions. With the UN’s ILO warning of 1.6 billion people worldwide facing hardship because of the global slump, the case for what some poorer countries call ‘conditional cash transfers’ is hard to argue with. In wealthier countries the mood switch is undeniable. An astounding 71 per cent of Europeans of all ages surveyed in the spring of 2020 supported the idea of UBI, according to Oxford University researchers and Germany’s Bertelsmann Stiftung. It’s hard to tell whether that reflected the shock of lockdowns and the furloughing of so many employees, or is a more durable political sentiment. But the same poll also found 84 per cent firmly in favour of the mandatory minimum wage proposed by the incoming EU commission in autumn 2019. Demands in Europe for a fairer post-coronavirus society are unmistakable. Less clear is whether this will also be extended towards migrants in a time of hardship and high unemployment unseen since the ‘Hungry Thirties’ that preceded the Second World War, nor whether UBI as such will ever take root. The proponents of UBI have long argued that the impact of radical changes in Europe – digital technology and ageing – could be softened if a flat payment of income support were made to all. Who ‘all’ would be

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


was much debated, but there was general agreement amongst UBI’s backers that it would be the best and most affordable way to avoid serious political trouble in the years ahead. UBI was far from a completely new idea, and had already been gaining ground before the coronavirus struck. It was said to have been mooted first in the eighteenth century by Thomas Paine, one of the foremost political theorists of American independence. It has since been flirted with by politicians on the left and the right, including in the latter case by disgraced US President Richard Nixon, who attempted to introduce a mild form of UBI in 1969 but failed to win senate approval. There are several models of UBI, beginning with the 1960s notion backed by the economist Milton Friedman of a ‘negative income tax’, consisting of modest payments to poorer households. Others involve more ambitious schemes promising substantial incomes for everyone. There have been pilot schemes in a number of countries and, perhaps predictably, a referendum in Switzerland. That looked at payments equivalent to $30,000 yearly that would have doubled the country’s social welfare budget, and was roundly defeated. Finland, too, has given a thumbs down to UBI. Belgian economist Philippe Van Parijs has been among UBI’s longtime supporters, and argues that it would help resolve many more problems than the dislocation of labour markets. It could also counter the ‘desertification’ of rural communities and reduce migrant labour flows within the EU. True to his reputation for blue-sky thinking, Van Parijs has urged that UBI should be introduced globally and funded by a worldwide carbon tax to ensure that regions with the largest populations are the chief beneficiaries. Policymakers may now be dusting off the more modest UBI ideas that not long ago had been trialled in Finland and the Netherlands but found wanting. These schemes had failed to overcome objections that they undermine social values and remove the incentive to work. On top of that, right-wingers charged that UBI schemes attract more migrants than ever because they hold out the lure of ‘free money’.


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One of the highest hurdles facing UBI was therefore that it might be accused of bringing in immigrants. But although fears that UBI would see migrants flocking to Europe to qualify for cash payments made it politically toxic, in practical terms this was never a very convincing argument. Economic migrants overwhelmingly accept the dangers of travelling to Europe to search for work, not welfare. Now, in the worldwide depression hitting poorer countries hardest of all, migrants have a greater incentive to escape from poverty. That doesn’t mean, of course, that immigrants don’t need social welfare, or that it shouldn’t be available to them. What it does mean is that with Europe now so vulnerable to major disruptions to its waged economy and employment patterns, the way welfare payments are calculated needs an imaginative rethink. Trying to use social welfare rules to discourage immigration makes no sense when the overall aim must be to bring in more working age people and integrate them socially. Whether UBI or something like it eventually overcomes the political, cultural and financial barriers ranged against it remains to be seen. What seems inevitable, thanks to Covid-19, is the radical reform of welfare systems in many countries. The OECD reckons that, on average, European countries spend a third of their GDPs on social welfare of some sort, so making these schemes more coherent and adaptable to change seems common sense.

The Robot Revolution versus migrant workers’ cheaper labour Labour markets are in turmoil now that unemployment is soaring and governments are both directly and indirectly the employers of last resort. Reconciling short-term job creation pressures with long-term labour shortages is a novel policy nightmare foretold by few economists, if any. Can the problem be summed up by saying we need more migrant workers, but not yet? Perhaps. But what about jobs that need to be done

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


right now, like seasonal farm work and fruit picking, whose migrant workforces have been decimated by Covid-19? And what if unemployed native Europeans refuse to accept work that they consider too menial and poorly paid? So how does the much-discussed digital future fit with labour markets that are severely disrupted by the coronavirus? Meet Sam and Flippy. They don’t look like the humanoid robots we see on TV, with flashing electronic eyes and gawky mechanical movements, but they belong to a significant new robotic breed. One lays bricks, the other flips hamburgers, and both are harbingers of imminent and widespread disruption in sectors where migrant labour is at a premium. A short drive south of Washington, DC, a Virginia-based outfit called Construction Robotics has developed a bricklaying robot called Sam that works at three times the speed of its fastest human competitor. At first sight, it spells bad news for the migrant Latino workers who are the backbone of America’s building industry, but maybe not. Although it will make many bricklayers redundant, its speed means more people will be needed to load and manage bricks. This robot brickie is first cousin to another robot that threatens millions of fast-food jobs. Flippy can turn out an amazing 360 perfectly grilled and prepared hamburgers in an hour, and is capable of halving McDonald’s payroll of almost two million unskilled workers, many of them migrants. Whether one is a migrant or a native citizen, whether living in an industrialized or developing country, we stand on the threshold of an unprecedented shake-up of our labour markets and the ways in which we earn a living. No one can say with any confidence how the digital revolution will interact with Europe’s rising levels of immigration, but it’s plain that the coming thirty years or so will see huge disruptions and unsettling degrees of social and political chaos. Social distancing is accelerating the advent of the digital era, and it’s clear that working practices are going to change fast and radically in the post-Covid-19 world. Although we think the twentieth century already saw tumultuous upheavals in the way people work, that isn’t the case.


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Labour market analysts say working practices changed very little, and point to statistics compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that nine out of ten job categories and professional occupations are today largely unchanged since 1900. They are, however, highly susceptible to change now. The last hundred years or so will have been placidly slowmoving times compared to what lies ahead. The robots are on the march, and AI will soon be challenging human brain-power. The outlook is both exhilarating and frightening, because scientific advances in this new technological age are moving much faster than social adjustments. At its simplest, digitalization offers the means to compensate for Europe’s shrinking workforces. Fewer people will be needed in offices and factories, so one could argue that it neatly resolves the problem of fewer people coming onto the labour market. That ignores a number of inconvenient truths. The first is that robots don’t pay taxes, and the second is that they don’t consume the goods and services that make our economies tick. A third inconvenient truth lurking in the wings is that in most cases the robots are unlikely to perform the less sophisticated tasks that native Europeans have themselves increasingly shunned. A fourth is that while less educated migrants will pay taxes and sustain consumption, they will mostly be unsuited to a digitized workplace. Robots and automated systems cut employers’ costs. At the same time, unskilled migrants also offer lower costs through lower wages. How these two competing pressures will work out remains to be seen. It’s possible that their effects will in most European countries be felt in very different areas of the economy, but that is little consolation if it widens the gulf between the haves and have-nots. The digital revolution may create a new underclass of people, made up increasingly of migrants who all too often will be condemned to poverty and hopelessness. How disruptive, then, is the digital revolution likely to be, and where will it strike hardest? The short answers to both questions are ‘very’ and

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


‘everywhere’. Let’s start with China and its hard-won new status as the workshop of the world. Foxconn, which assembles the Apple range of consumer electronic devices, employs a million and a half people in its mainland China and Taiwanese factories. Spurred on by declining profitability, it plans to introduce a million robots onto its production lines. Foxconn’s intentions are advance warning of the way big companies are headed, not only in China but around the world. When major American corporations with yearly sales of over $10 billion were surveyed by the Boston Consulting Group, half said that thanks to the economies offered by new digital technologies they are looking at ‘reshoring’ activities. Low-wage Asian competition had led to the ‘offshoring’ of millions of jobs from the United States and Europe, and now the tide is turning. Also, in Massachusetts, a Boston start-up company called Rethink Robotics released a versatile humanoid robot called ‘Baxter’ that could perform complicated repetitive tasks. At around $20,000–$30,000 apiece, it cost half a human worker’s yearly wages and overheads. Fourfifths of all automotive and vehicle assembly jobs look to be vulnerable, so clearly it isn’t just factory floors that will be transformed. Consultants at McKinsey and analysts at Oxford University agree on a broad estimate that around half of all present-day jobs can be automated to some degree. At one end of the scale, basic medical, accountancy and legal tasks are being transformed by AI. At the other, rather more dangerous end, many of the high-risk jobs performed by the military and by disaster response teams can be safely carried out by robots and the like. Drones costing as little as $2,000 can deliver lethal payloads that take out naval and aviation equipment costing many millions. Even supposedly creative jobs like journalism are in the firing line. At Northwestern University in Chicago, a students’ start-up company called Narrative Science has developed ‘Quill’, a program that’s claimed to be capable of writing straightforward reporting stories like sports results and financial news.


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Robotization’s upside will be new jobs A striking feature of this ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ is that it appears to be restoring manufacturing strengths to European and American industries that had seemed in terminal decline. The desolate and abandoned cotton and wool textile mills of Lancashire and Yorkshire that powered Victorian Britain’s industrial revolution may make a comeback. The UK’s battered textile and clothing sector has created 20,000 new jobs and doubled its exports during the last decade, thanks to robotization and advanced automation. Two centuries on from the ‘spinning jennies’ and the steam-powered looms that gave northern England its world-beating competitive advantage, AI is enabling the introduction there of sophisticated new processes. Far removed from the repetitive tasks associated with industrial robots, AI is breathing new life into old industries. After so many years when new machinery meant lay-offs and payroll cuts, job creation resulting from new technologies is a concept Europe’s traditional industries had all but forgotten. Ironically, with coronavirus’s threat to vulnerable global supply chains and the ‘re-shoring’ of manufacturing that had been moved to Asia, the revival of some manufacturing sectors is drawing attention to labour shortages. The familiar idea of there not being enough jobs to go around is giving way to fears that there won’t be enough people to do those jobs. Labour shortages are particularly acute in the formerly communist countries of central and Eastern European that joined the EU in 2004. The four countries of the so-called ‘Visegrad bloc’ – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – are starting to see crippling labour shortages ahead if their populations shrink as much as predicted. The UN expects their combined populations to plunge by mid-century to 56 million, a drop of 8 million people. The Visegrad countries are the most vociferously anti-immigrant of all EU member states. So instead of looking to migrants to swell their diminishing workforces, they are foremost among those installing robots. The International Federation of Robotics based in Frankfurt

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


reports that almost ten thousand robots were introduced in the Visegrad region in 2017 alone, and that year-on-year growth in robotization there is roughly double the European average. The outlook in Germany is much the same, although the hope there is that migrants will play a far greater part in compensating for labour shortages. Buoyant though the German economy has been, fears are widespread there that even with greater robotization the country’s healthiest industries could be living on borrowed time. The lack of sufficient workers with the right qualifications is beginning to bite; would-be employers in Germany are complaining of more and more unfilled vacancies. In 2015, these vacant positions numbered around six hundred thousand and within three years had risen to nearly a million. This problem is seen as potentially a major brake on Germany’s economic growth, not least because its many ageing workers are soon to become pensioners. Germany’s ‘baby boomers’ spearheaded the country’s industrial success since the 1960s, and their retirement is no longer a distant threat. ‘From 2019–20,’ says the DIW think tank’s chief, Marcel Fratzscher, ‘the labour force will start shrinking.’ So far, by dint of bringing in migrant workers, mainly from elsewhere in the EU, and by encouraging women and older people to join Germany’s active workforce, several million new jobs have been created. Unemployment in Germany is now at half its 2008 level of five million people, and that’s a warning sign as much as a cause for celebration. By 2030, Germany’s shortage of skilled workers could well number three million people. Four-fifths of German companies already complain of hiring difficulties so severe that they are prevented from generating enough profits to invest in innovation. This is raising the spectre of declining German competitiveness in world markets, and an outlook that will get progressively grimmer. By 2060, the country’s working age population of 50 million is to shrink by a quarter to around 37 million. Faced with demographic decline so steep that it is not just reducing the workforce but also the profitability of companies and their ability to


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automate and robotize, German policymakers are looking to immigration as a solution. Berlin has been falling back on the EU’s Blue Card scheme offering visas to skilled workers in developing countries, and since 2012 is reckoned to have attracted 60,000 newcomers. Useful, but not nearly enough. France faces similar workforce difficulties, although to a lesser degree because its demographic position is not so dire. French employers say they lack a third of a million skilled workers, and to compensate they recruited half a million workers from abroad over the two years since 2016. As to the UK, in addition to the seasonal workers from Eastern Europe who have been crucial to the farm sector, 3.5 million people from other EU countries were living in Britain when the Brexit referendum was held.

Can immigration resolve Europe’s labour shortages? When the European Investment Bank turned its attention to the challenges and opportunities of migration, it commented that ‘migration could compensate for low mobility in the EU, can support a better utilisation of available skills by contributing to improving the skill-mix and by increasing the overall improvement of human capital.’1 It warned, however, that ‘migration can help to improve only to some extent the demographic situation of Europe’, commenting that shortages of affordable housing can sometimes prevent migrants from moving to where labour demand is high. The EIB nevertheless endorsed the findings of the IMF, which estimated the fiscal costs of the 2015–16 migrant and refugee crisis at 0.15 per cent of European GDP. In other words, the IMF was saying the costs were limited, temporary and likely to be easily outweighed by the benefits of integration in the medium term.2 Discussion of migrants’ economic value at times confuses skilled and unskilled workers. What the EIB made very clear was that immigrants are unlikely to fix Europe’s skills shortages in the short term because relatively few of them are highly educated. It reckoned that

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


only 14 per cent of people who migrated to Europe from 2000 to 2010 were well educated, and also cited an OECD study in 2014 that had found half of all low-skilled jobs throughout the EU were occupied by immigrants from outside Europe. That doesn’t mean that immigrants’ children are incapable of being trained and educated to levels where they will make a greater social and economic contribution. There is much ‘short-termism’ in the way migration policies are framed, despite the obvious fact that Europe’s demographic outlook is a long-term challenge. Right now, the focus is on filling vacancies, and that’s where immigrants will at very least be of indirect benefit. Even if unable to step straight into the shoes of a skilled worker going into retirement, they are able to take over unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and thus release not only native Europeans for training and further education but also the children of first-generation migrants. An important facet of the digital revolution is that it is being considered as the solution to sluggish productivity. The twenty-first century has seen poor to mediocre improvements in productivity in Europe and America, despite computerization and greater automation. In the United States, the productivity fillip from widespread computerization that began in the mid-1990s has tailed off, and in Europe it was never pronounced. Now, on both sides of the Atlantic the hope is that robots and AI will boost output per person and bring about substantial gains in economic competitiveness. If Europe’s shrinking workforces are able to produce more goods and services per employee, then the dampening effects of the demographic crisis can be vitiated. But that would mean brushing away the cobwebs that have trapped European businesses into low productivity patterns since the onset of the twenty-first century. It’s a big ‘if’. On present showing, Britain, along with most EU member states, can ill afford the rising public costs of ageing. Instead of being increased, pension and healthcare budgets are more likely to suffer cutbacks. Rises in public health costs have been kept within narrow margins during the austerity decade that followed the 2008 financial crisis, increasing in the UK by around only a single percentage point a year.


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It won’t be possible to maintain that tight rein on social benefits once the baby boomers’ retirement bulge begins to balloon in earnest. The healthcare and pension costs associated with ageing are going to have a dramatic impact on governments’ budgets.

Improved productivity is one answer to Europe’s ageing This sombre picture shines a spotlight on productivity. If output per hour were to rise substantially, then European governments might be able to afford increased social welfare costs. The productivity picture in industrialized countries is patchy, with some remarkable surprises. A survey by the New York-based Conference Board in 2015 came up with some unexpected findings. Britain’s showing was poor, with output per hour around three-quarters of that in the United States, France and Germany. Productivity in the London region was between half and two-thirds greater than in other parts of the country. Of twenty countries, the UK ranked sixteenth, along with Italy, but amazingly showed better productivity than Japan and South Korea, two countries with overwhelming demographic problems.3 Discussion of productivity reveals much uncertainty about the nature of productivity itself, raising questions over its usefulness as a guide to future policies. At first sight, productivity is a straightforward calculation of output and time – the more units produced in a shorter time, the higher the productivity. Yves Morieux, an economist at Boston Consulting Group’s Washington, DC offices has put it succinctly: ‘Our standards of living depend on our productivity improvement. When productivity grows 3 per cent per annum, you double the standards of living every generation. When productivity grows 1 per cent per annum, it takes three generations to double the standards of living, and many people will be less well off than their parents.’4 Others challenge this beguilingly simple view, pointing out that while it held good for manufactured products and many services, it

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


doesn’t apply so well to the digital economy. Productivity, they say, was a useful tool for measuring economic performance when salaried employment was stable and output of manufactured goods and services was easy to calculate, but in the ‘gig economy’ it can be misleading; casual employment patterns make statistics harder to gather. Diane Coyle, an economics professor at the University of Cambridge in the UK, has pointed out that the shift of major supermarket chains to automatic checkout machines isn’t a true productivity gain. That’s because checkout staff are being replaced by the unpaid labour of the customers themselves when they scan and bag their purchases. It’s more profitable for the company as it cuts their costs, but it doesn’t register in terms of measurable productivity. Prof. Coyle adds that this is far from an isolated example, and points to the growing number of mundane tasks like withdrawing cash from an ATM or buying a train ticket that shift work from waged employees to the consumer. On top of this, she says, ‘There is also the trickier question of what we mean by productivity in an economy only one-fifth composed of products?’5 The digital revolution is producing all sorts of confusing effects that distort our measurement of economic growth. Free or very low-cost communications and the wholesale shifting of business away from high-street retailers to e-commerce and the cloud are innovations that make it difficult to plan ahead for labour markets in flux. What we do know is that there will be fewer skilled and educated young Europeans available for work, that the jobs to be done will be increasingly different from those we have been used to, and that there will be many more migrants wanting to do them.

The winners and losers in the Digital Age The ‘Big Picture’ of the European economy in the coming quarter of a century looks likely to be made up of the following broad brushstrokes. There will be a good deal of displacement of jobs we thought only


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humans could perform, but that won’t create insuperable long-term difficulties. Of course, there will be adjustment challenges, as AI and robotics start to push out medical technicians, paralegals, accountants, financial analysts, secretaries and a host of other service providers. But there will be other jobs in the digital economy for these people. Far more worrying will be the suppression of tasks performed by semi-skilled people. These jobs in factories, warehousing and transport have often been held down by people who are unlikely to retrain easily, and may not accept more menial work, so the chances are that many will fall back on social security safety nets. Few of the badly paid and often back-breaking tasks essential to the smooth running of our societies are going to be taken over by robots. Agriculture and food processing may benefit from greater automation, but public services and utilities will continue to need unskilled labourers. That’s where migrant workers will certainly be coming to Europe’s rescue, but in doing so will be contributing to a worrying distortion of our social structures. The growth of an underclass of non-European workers is already under way. What it implies, and how it could be softened or even prevented, is something that Europe’s policymakers and social scientists need to bring into sharper focus. The track records of European countries on handling this problem are unimpressive. The housing and education of immigrant communities has since the 1960s too often been penny-pinching. The tower blocks of France’s banlieues (outer suburbs) or Britain’s inner cities have been breeding grounds for long-term unemployment and withdrawals from the active labour force, not to speak of criminality and even jihadist terrorism. There’s no denying that the low priority given to migrants’ welfare has been a poor investment. The case for improving social housing in the UK’s city centres has been eloquently put by Sarah O’Connor, a Financial Times journalist, when writing about urban policies: ‘Policymakers need to make brave interventions on planning, building and tax to boost housing supply. Affordable housing is not “nice-to-have” but a necessity.

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


Homeowners might worry this will dent the value of their houses, but so would rubbish-strewn streets, unstaffed hospitals, leaking pipes and shuttered shops. If cities only work for the highly paid, they just don’t work.’ That’s true not just for cities but for Europe as a whole. Amid the dislocations and uncertainties of ageing, demographic shrinking and irresistible migrant pressures, European society must attach far more importance to the welfare of newcomers. As well as better housing, that means a revolution in education. Although all countries in Europe can point to new generations of political, business and professional leaders drawn from the ranks of immigrants, the reality is that they still represent a very small proportion of their own communities.

On education, spend more to win more Better education will be crucial to the skilling of immigrants. If Europe is to avoid the development of a migrant underclass it must ensure that young people of all religions and races receive the same educational opportunities. There’s a huge economic boost to be gained from overhauling and expanding the teaching and training sectors, yet in most European countries, education continues to be seen as a non-productive cost. It’s usually the most vulnerable to budget cuts, while the educationalists themselves often seem the most resistant to reform and innovation. As well as holding the answer to pressing economic and social challenges, education is key to the integration of immigrant labour, and all the more so in times of unpredictable technological change. But if education and training remain as firmly national in character as they are currently, the chances of moving Europe’s political and economic integration forward will be slim. The next decade must see the European Union develop beyond its somewhat limited twentieth-century mandate. ‘More Europe, not less,’ as German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has repeatedly put it. Since the


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founders signed the Treaty of Rome, education, like tax, has been among the sovereign powers that EU member governments desperately hold on to, refusing to see their sovereign authority weakened. But the road to a more efficient and dynamic Europe is that of cultural homogeneity, and that means closer educational links between EU countries. Not only do the external pressures of globalization demand greater European unity, so too do internal ones. Surging immigration cannot be managed by divided EU member states at one another’s throats, and technological change demands a fluid Europewide labour market, not fragmented national ones.

Making sense of the ‘gig economy’ Even without the relandscaping potential of new technologies, Europe’s labour market has been undergoing radical change. The ‘gig economy’ is generally thought of as involving young job-seekers forced to accept temporary internet-based work for low wages, but the true picture is intriguingly different. Far from being a technology-driven phenomenon, the growth in independent workers who either can’t find salaried jobs or don’t want them is an accelerating social trend. The term refers to the ‘gigs’ of actors or musicians, not to gigabytes or the like. A survey by the MGI in Europe and the United States has thrown up some interesting findings. Supporters of the gig economy praise its flexibility, yet nearly a third of the 8,000 ‘giggers’ interviewed said they took their temporary, low-wage jobs as a last resort. Only 6 per cent of people in the survey were employed by online platforms like Uber or Deliveroo. Older people were found more likely to accept a gig job than their juniors in the 25–54 age range, probably because work as carers and retail helpers is readily available. In spite of the absence of social protection given by zero-hours contracts, the gig economy seems set to be the future. It has been rapidly eclipsing our familiar waged economy of nine-to-five jobs underpinned by a work contract and protected by labour laws and employment

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


tribunals. The MGI survey concluded that 20–30 per cent of workers in Europe and the United States are now in the gig economy.6 The gig economy may or may not turn out to be a blessing. It is seen by some as a way of making Europe’s rigid and outdated labour markets more flexible. Others say gig jobs offer no social protection and are likely to be held chiefly by the poor and underprivileged. For migrant workers, the gig economy can be seen as a desirable way of introducing less skilled newcomers into the active workforce. The spread of flexible, independent jobs and zero-hours contracts may well be determined in Europe by the political left rather than the conservative right, and by labour unions rather than employers. In Germany, the labour market reforms introduced in 2002, when Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder was chancellor, led to a blossoming of ‘mini-jobs’ that paid low wages but dramatically reduced unemployment, especially among the young. It remains to be seen how left-leaning politicians who are already ambivalent about gig jobs will view them if they are increasingly filled by economic migrants.

Are trades unions ‘pro-migrant’? What political forces and entrenched interests are ranged against immigration and the inclusion of economic migrants in the European workforce? The widespread image of anti-immigrant populists on the far right fired by nationalism and racism is too simple to hold true; there are also powerful pressures from the left. The productivity slowdown during the decade that followed the 2008 financial crisis saw a slump in wages. The living standards of waged industrial workers have been depressed almost as much as those of people working in the gig economy. This has encouraged a widespread belief that migrant workers have been largely responsible for the standstill in incomes. Whether migrant workers hail from elsewhere in the EU or from further afield, their readiness to work for lower wages is viewed by some as an unfair brake on indigenous workers’ pay packets.


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Like many stubbornly held prejudices, it’s wrong. When the OECD looked at the impact of immigrant labour, it found that rather than being a cost to the host economy, migrants tended to make a small but significant contribution to an OECD member country’s GDP of around 0.35 per cent.7 That was back in 2009, before the 2015–16 refugee crisis inflamed debate, but other researchers have since found much the same. In the UK, a 2017 analysis by Oxford University’s Stephen Nickell and Jumana Saleheen, then at the Bank of England, found that immigration has a negligible impact on wages and on the availability of jobs. A 10 per cent increase in immigrants’ share of the menial jobs they looked at produced only a 2 per cent drop in wages.8 A similar Danish study concluded that rather than depress wages for menial jobs, the arrival of migrant workers instead pushed native Danes to take up better jobs elsewhere. Not all policymakers share this view. Germany’s central banker raised eyebrows in early 2018 when he suggested that ‘migration from other EU member states partially accounts for dampened wage pressures in Germany.’ Jens Weidmann, the president of the Bundesbank, was addressing a conference organized jointly with the IMF when he charged that the 2.7 million non-German EU citizens working there were contributing, along with global economic factors, to the absence of wage rises. In any case, the real issue is not so much wages as whether trades unions in Europe will at some point conclude that in the long run their members’ overriding interest is economic growth. Stagnant wages have contributed to Europe’s doldrums, and because migrant labour is needed to compensate for Europe’s ageing it is an essential component of economic growth. Escaping wage stagnation will be vital. Higher wages would boost consumption while pumping more tax money into governments’ budgets to pay for ageing and the integration of immigrants. But how to get the flywheel spinning that would lead to greater productivity and higher wages? How to tax the increasingly digital economy presents a dilemma. If the owners of new technologies like AI and robotics are over-taxed,

More Migrant Jobs, or Fewer, in Post-Covid-19?


then the promised productivity gains may be discouraged, or redirected to other parts of the world. On the other hand, leaving the taxation of these technologies at their present low levels would mean maintaining the presently high tax burden on employment, and thus continuing to depress wages. Payroll taxes and other levies related to employment account for nearly half of EU countries’ tax incomes, contrasting with a mere 20 per cent received from taxing capital. It’s a huge problem, with no easy answers. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, surprised many in the information technology and computing sector when he announced his support for specific taxes on robots. This thinking made a lot of sense. Speaking about jobs lost to robots, Gates said, ‘If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.’ Expanding on this thought, the software billionaire went on to suggest that the revenues from a robot tax could in part be used to retrain the people who had been displaced. He then added the near-heretical idea of perhaps slowing the pace of automation so as to reduce the risk of a backlash against digitalization.9 It is plain that the disruptive effects of the digital revolution will be reaching down deeper than we can yet imagine. The efficiencies offered by these technologies may bring manufacturing jobs back from lowwage Asia to Europe and America, but they are also liable to keep EU and US wages down far more effectively than the arrival of millions of immigrants. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have calculated that each new robot installed per thousand workers has the effect of depressing ALL wages throughout the US economy by 0.5 per cent. There are at present about two robots per thousand workers in both Europe and North America, but the forecast growth of robotics could upend those figures.10 The mix of digitalization and demographic change is potentially explosive. Who owns the robots? And who wins and loses from their arrival? These are volatile questions that are liable to become thoroughly toxic. But no less so than all the questions over how Europe’s muchneeded immigrant new blood can be transfused and healthily absorbed by the body politic.



Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage

Widely different national immigration and asylum policies threaten Europeans’ free movement as much as Covid-19’s lockdowns have done, compounding fears the EU’s ‘ever-closer union’ may begin to unravel. On the plus side, the pressures exerted by the coronavirus could force significant fine-tuning and the reassembly of national policies into a more coherent system that would lead eventually to a single European migration policy. People want national political leaders rather than Brussels’ faceless Eurocrats to tackle immigration, right? Maybe not. Two-thirds of Europeans would like a common EU-wide immigration policy, according to Eurobarometer polls, and 58 per cent believe Europe’s national governments ‘are not doing a good job’.1 Before Covid-19, opinion polls didn’t greatly clarify matters; most focused on whether respondents approved or disapproved of migration rather than how to tackle the many problems surrounding it. What these surveys generally made clear was that public opinion throughout Europe wanted governments to make the rules less muddled. There has been little sign of that. No two European states handle immigration in the same way: different criteria for granting political asylum to refugees, different rules on whether and how migrants can be employed, different levels and degrees of access to social benefits, healthcare and housing. It’s no wonder that younger and more mobile immigrants shop around for the best deals, and thus add to the chaos. European governments are at each other’s throats over migration, while the EU’s institutions are equally divided over such basic questions as 169


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what political mechanism should decide future policies. Would majority voting on new EU-level rules be better than the present search for consensus? Advocates of that say it would be democratic and efficient, but opponents warn against imposing burden sharing on reluctant countries. Politicians across Europe who must grapple with the dire economic consequences of Covid-19 may perhaps be spurred on by the coronavirus crisis to find a way out of these deadlocks, or they may give it low priority. Agreeing a common approach to migration would certainly mark a definitive end to battles whose opening shots were fired more than two decades ago. In mid-October 1999, the leaders of the then fifteen EU countries met in the Finnish industrial town of Tampere to discuss key aspects of the burgeoning European project. The euro had just been launched and the ‘big bang’ enlargement negotiations to bring in a dozen mainly excommunist new members were under way. A greater role for Europe on the world stage beckoned. Top of the agenda was the idea of a common asylum and migration policy. The ringing declaration is almost embarrassing to recall: ‘Our aim is to develop a European Union that is open to those led justifiably to seek access in our territory, and which is able to respond to humanitarian needs on the basis of solidarity.’ One of the document’s signatories was Portugal’s member of the European Commission, António Vitorino, an energetic former lawyer who held the Justice and Home Affairs portfolio. Almost twenty years later, Vitorino was named in mid-2018 as the new head of the UN’s International Organization for Migration, an appointment that hopefully may open a new era in UN–EU cooperation. In 1999, the need for a common migration policy was modest by today’s standards. Civil war in former-Yugoslavia had spurred a wave of Balkan emigration, most notably from Bosnia and Kosovo, that was creating anxiety in Western Europe. Some three hundred thousand people from war-torn Balkan states had sought asylum in the EU. Tampere signally failed to result in a far-sighted new approach. The authors of a report by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation were to

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


comment in November 2016, ‘more than 15 years after . . . the adoption of the Tampere conclusions, EU states have not reached their goals. There are no common EU immigration and asylum policies. Immigration policy remains imbalanced with a deep focus on border management and irregular migration. Actions in the field of asylum did not lead to a common asylum procedure and a uniform status valid throughout the Union.’ The Gulbenkian report set out the conclusions of a meeting hosted by the foundation in Lisbon. At this meeting a consortium of eight prominent think tanks from across Europe had put forward their ideas on how better to handle the migrant crisis. Foremost among these was a proposal for a European Authority for Immigration ‘to deal with the management of migratory flows in a pro-active way, recognizing the immigrants are not only a cost or a burden, but also a potential benefit to the European economic system.’2 The proposed authority would start, they suggested, with two clear goals. The first would be to persuade public opinion in Europe of the value of migration. Citing the World Bank’s ‘Golden Ageing’ study published a few months earlier in 2015, the eight think tanks underlined Europe’s need to prevent shrinkage of its workforce and to ensure the sustainability of public finances and the welfare state. Its second task would be to create an EU-level process for assessing the abilities of newcomers. The report commented caustically that ‘it is rather incredible that there is no European-wide ground for evaluating the skills of immigrants. Information about their skills or their qualifications is not collected on a regular basis.’3

Europe’s fragmented national migration policies Think tanks periodically discuss the influence their research may have on governments’ policymaking, and are usually forced to conclude that it can be minimal. Policymakers respond more readily to political and electoral pressures than to rational argument.


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In their analyses of migration policy shortcomings, think tanks have nevertheless been putting EU governments and their civil servants on their mettle. Fabrizio Tassinari of the Danish Institute for International Studies put it neatly in his assessment of what he called the ‘renationalisation’ of EU refugee policies. ‘Migration management had always been among the most complex, politicised and least integrated policies in Europe,’ he wrote. ‘Migration is the epitome of a highly sensitive issue that is threaded carefully at the domestic level by each EU Member State before it gets negotiated in the EU, almost always resulting in watered-down commitments.’ Policies that had been taboo, he added, ‘are now a constituent part of the . . . policy repertoire.’4 How diverse, then, are these national policies? The answer is highly fragmented and at times contradictory. The UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) looked at asylum procedures in 2013, when the pressures were far less, and found major divergences between the dozen EU countries it studied. The UNHCR officials commented that the ways in which a number of those countries applied the EU’s Asylum Procedures Directive even appeared to breach international law.5 They noted that northern European societies – the Nordic states along with Germany and Switzerland – display more positive attitudes towards immigration than are found in southern countries, the Baltic republics and the Visegrad bloc, ‘where less than 30 per cent of respondents positively evaluate the cultural impact of immigrants.’ These varying degrees of openness to migration are well known. More surprising have been the findings of researchers working for Eurofound, the EU agency in Dublin that promotes better living and working conditions. In the wake of the 2015–16 surge in asylum seekers, Eurofound surveyed the ways member states were reacting with a detailed questionnaire, and the answers painted a picture of baffling complexity.6 New laws, new rules and regulations, revised social security entitlements and changes to the refugees’ right to find work had been introduced throughout the EU, but were for the most part different in each country. In only two member states – Sweden and, unexpectedly,

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


Greece – are asylum seekers permitted to look for work as soon as they have arrived and submitted their asylum request. Two other member states – Ireland and Lithuania – don’t allow refugees to find a job at all until their asylum application has been processed and accepted. For the rest of the EU, four countries insist that asylum seekers must wait for at least three months before becoming eligible to work, one country (Belgium) says four months, eight have decided on six months, five have gone for a nine-month waiting period and one country (Malta) says a year, as does the UK. But it’s not even that straightforward. Sweden and Greece appear at first sight to share the same liberal approach of encouraging refugees to earn their keep as soon as possible, but in practice their requirements are different. Greece issues only temporary work permits, while Sweden insists on the sort of ID documents that refugees often lack. This array of residence and work permit conditions is arguably the least of the problems that national bureaucracies create. The changes introduced in various EU countries, says Eurofound and its research partner the European Employment Policy Observatory, are often deliberately designed to move migrants on to somewhere else in Europe.

How Dublin became a dirty word Whether it’s cuts in social benefits or restrictions on family reunifications, the aim of national authorities within the EU is to shift the immigration burden to some other country. This is the background to the twin challenges Europeans face – the threat to the Schengen agreement on passportless free movement of people between its twenty-six signatory countries, and the future of the Dublin Regulation that since 1990 has imposed responsibility for refugees on the EU country they first entered. The Dublin Regulation is widely disliked, and has even become a verb; to be Dublinned, or Dubliné in French, is to be forcibly removed from somewhere and returned unwillingly to one’s initial point of entry.


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The system can condemn refugees to legal limbo or the precarious life of a ‘sans papiers’ with no access to social benefits, while saddling southern European countries with the bulk of immigrants simply because they landed on Mediterranean shores. Italy and Greece are in the vanguard of those seeking to reform the Dublin Regulation as part of a fairer burden-sharing formula. Ranged against them are the northern Europeans, most of all the four countries of the Visegrad bloc – Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Reforming Dublin is at best a bureaucratic ‘frozen conflict’, and at worse a gangrene poisoning Europe’s body politic. It has been mildly reformed since its birth in 1990, in 2003 and in 2013, and now a Dublin IV package is under discussion. It is proving highly toxic. The politicians, diplomats and lawyers involved in the Dublin IV talks in any case know that the existing regulation has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. In early 2016, the southern EU countries were alleged to be deliberately failing to register people when they arrived from the Middle East or North Africa. European Commission officials told journalists in off-the-record briefings that as many as 1.1 million newcomers had been quietly ushered northwards, in some cases even being issued with railway passes. For their part, the northern Europeans have been lax about returning refugees to the member state where they had first been registered, probably to avoid the expense of arranging travel under police guard. Of the 76,000 return transfers south that had been due to take place in 2013, only 16,000 were carried out. Dublin’s uselessness was summed up in December 2017 by the European Commission’s then deputy director-general for migration and home affairs, Simon Mordue. He said, ‘the number of Dublin transfers continues to be very limited. In 2015, for instance, out of more than a million applicants [for asylum], only around 13,000 Dublin transfers seemed to have taken place.’ To illustrate the arbitrary way national authorities implement the so-called Common European Asylum System, Mordue cited the case of Afghan refugees who could face imprisonment or death if returned home. Some EU member states, he said, have granted asylum to 98 per

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cent of applicants, while others refused all requests by Afghans. There can be no justification, he added, for countries like Italy to take years to process asylum applications while the Netherlands and others take only weeks. Simon Mordue’s remarks were made at Leuven University in Belgium in a presentation of the Commission’s efforts to overhaul asylum policy. Pointing out that ‘a solid Dublin system is key to a smooth running of the Schengen area,’ he explained that in May 2016 the European Commission had proposed a ‘fairness mechanism’ that would make Dublin comprehensive and predictable. The European Parliament, he admitted, ‘goes for a fundamentally different approach, and proposes a compulsory system of relocation.’7 That’s the world of EU politics. In the real world, meanwhile, the crumbling of the twenty-six-nation Schengen agreement on the free movement of people continues apace. To prevent the arrival of unwanted migrants, some EU governments, to the dismay of others, have reintroduced border controls and reversed three decades of steady progress on abolishing frontier checks and barriers. The general consensus in the EU is nevertheless that Schengen remains fundamental to Europe’s solidarity, and to its economy. Even short-term returns to border controls could mean very serious economic costs. A report commissioned by the French government has put the likely cost of even cursory frontier checks on vehicles crossing into France at €2 billion a year because of the disruption to trade and tourism. Germany reckons border delays just of trucks would cost its economy €3 billion a year, with the indirect economic drag amounting to €10 billion a year. When these figures are grossed up for the whole Schengen area, it’s evident that the disruption would deal a devastating hit to the European economy. Yet that might be the least of the costs when compared to the political impact. Almost two million people cross an internal EU border every morning to go to work. The speed with which the Covid-19 lockdowns saw the return of the long-forgotten delays and frustrations of frontier controls has served as a warning of the impact future


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migration clampdowns might have in Europe. There are 1.3 billion border crossings every year – so roughly three crossings per adult – and the 57 million trucks that ply the European road network carry an estimated €2.8 trillion-worth of goods – about a fifth of the EU’s GDP.8 The implications of serious interference with free movement in the name of migration controls haven’t yet trickled down to public awareness. But when researchers at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy marked Schengen’s thirtieth anniversary in 2015 and looked at the uncertainties that threaten it, they came to some interesting conclusions. As well as the stimulus its borderless arrangements have given to trade and investment, they identified a substantial security dividend. They found that Schengen ‘has greatly strengthened the crossborder collaboration of national police and law enforcement agencies,’ reducing crime as well as improving counter-terrorism cooperation.’9 The Kiel analysts also acknowledged that Schengen is buckling under the weight of irregular migration. They said the EU asylum system has become dysfunctional because it puts such a very uneven burden on some countries in terms of fiscal and other costs, and warned that a new EU-wide asylum system is indispensable to Schengen’s survival. The Kiel Institute’s report suggested that ‘the distribution of refugees across Schengen states would be far less controversial if the full fiscal cost of providing for them until they can earn their own living was borne by the EU budget.’ What it didn’t attempt to do was to put a figure on that. The EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework, as the bloc’s budget is sonorously called, runs from 2021 to 2027, and thanks to the gaping hole to be left by Brexit, its size and priorities are already hotly disputed by EU governments. Ways to share the costs of immigration more fairly between EU countries have been scrutinized for some time, without much result. In April 2017, the Spanish government hosted a meeting in Madrid of the leaders of France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta to discuss this. Although individual heads of government followed these discussions with their own separate press conferences urging the

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


development of a common migration policy, no numbers were advanced and no concrete proposals made to the countries of northern and Eastern Europe that would be asked to fund it. Two Italian experts, Massimo Bordignon and Simone Moriconi, have argued in favour of ‘compensation payments’ as the most realistic way to share out the cost burden more equitably. In a paper entitled ‘The case for a common European refugee policy’ published in 2017 by the Bruegel think tank in Brussels, the researchers from Milan’s Catholic University pointed out the striking variations between refugees’ chances of being granted asylum in different EU countries.10 Apply for asylum in Germany or Austria and there’s a good chance of success – 68 per cent and 77 per cent, respectively, during the first quarter of 2016. Try for it in Britain, France or Italy and the acceptance rate drops to a 35 per cent or less. In Austria, France and Italy, a good many asylum seekers can gain something called subsidiary protection status, which falls short of full acceptance. There’s a simple reason why so many experts on migration harp on about the inconsistent ways EU countries operate their supposedly common asylum policy. As the two Italian researchers emphasized, a simplified overall European approach to migration requires two fundamental underpinnings – harmonized treatment of asylum requests and shared control of the EU’s external borders. Building higher walls around the European Union would seem the obvious way to reduce the flow of migrants, and thus reduce the frictions between member states. Take another look, though, and it becomes apparent that the practical difficulties involved are daunting if not insuperable.

Breaching the walls of ‘Fortress Europe’ Warsaw might seem an odd choice as the nerve centre of an organization whose focus is the Mediterranean, but that’s EU politics for you. When the clumsily named European Agency for the Management of


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Operational Cooperation at the External Borders was being set up in 2005, newly joined Poland was awarded the prize of hosting it. Frontex, as the organization thankfully was renamed, had a ten-year run that became increasingly unhappy. It was hobbled from the outset by its own mandate, and criticized for inefficiency by the same national governments that had insisted on limiting its powers. Desperately understaffed and under-resourced, Frontex’s weaknesses became embarrassingly obvious during the 2015 and 2016 refugee and migrant influxes. Legal doubts about the agency’s authority, along with the frequent unwillingness of national police and coastguards to cooperate, had left Frontex grappling ineffectually with problems ranging from maritime rescue operations to the return of illegal migrants to their countries of origin. By 2015 it became clear that the EU had to abandon its original hope that member states’ voluntary cooperation would suffice. Rather than being junked, Frontex was beefed up. A high-flying French civil servant, Fabrice Leggeri, was brought in to head a revitalized body with a hugely expanded budget and autonomous powers. Its budget has been tripled to over €300 million a year, its skeleton staff expanded into a 3,000-strong rapid reaction force with a clear legal right to act as it sees fit in emergencies. The outfit has a new name – the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – although it’s still widely known as Frontex, or sometimes Super-Frontex. Its problems, however, are far from over. Poland opposed the revamping of the organization, and particularly its right to oversee national governments’ management of border security. A number of other European countries have seized on this to put in a bid for the agency’s headquarters to be moved out of Warsaw, although the financial advantages and prestige of hosting EU offices with a payroll of around a thousand officials seems to have kept it there. The agency has far more serious problems than uncertainties about its ability to satisfy the raised expectations of European politicians. It can deliver some of its expanded mandate, notably hunting down people smugglers, but it can’t halt the flow of irregular migration. It may

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partially stem migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, but stopping them looks like Mission Impossible. The coastlines of France, Spain, Italy and Greece total about 30,000 kilometres, yet in security terms that’s the least of Europe’s challenges. The main difficulty is to win the support of African and Arab governments and that of Turkey, not just along the southern shores of the Mediterranean but as far south as central Africa. As discussed in earlier chapters, the pressures pushing refugees and economic migrants northwards will no doubt be intensified by the economic impact of Covid-19. We can’t know what routes irregular migrants will take in the months and years ahead. The exodus of Syrian and Iraqi refugees through Turkey to Greece had by 2017 given way to Libya as the preferred exit point for young African migrants aiming to cross by boat. A further shift was highlighted when Frontex’s Fabrice Leggeri said the route through Morocco to Spain had seen the arrival of 6,000 illegal migrants in a single month of 2018. European governments have been able to agree on a two-pronged strategy. First, that the best way to combat irregular migration – the preferred euphemism for illegal – is to expand legal migration. Second, that instead of trying to separate asylum seekers from job-seekers once they have landed in Europe, it would be better to do this on African soil. Hence ‘regional disembarkation platforms’ – another euphemism. Mentioned briefly in Chapter 5, these involve the setting up of camps along the North African coast where would-be migrants would be processed. Those with desirable skills, or a convincing case for seeking asylum, could take a ship to somewhere in Europe, and the others repatriated home. This deeply flawed solution sounded attractive enough for EU leaders to back it at their regular summer summit in late June 2018. An announcement of the ‘deal’ on offshoring the process of migrant selection came as the sun was rising over Brussels at 5 am. An exhausting all-night session of the European Council had managed to defuse the confrontation between Italy and the Visegrad countries over burden


People Power

sharing with a solution that shifted the burden outside the EU, but without securing agreement with any of the North African countries that would be asked to host the new centres. Such disarray is a hallmark of European policymaking on migration. The idea of camps along the southern Mediterranean had been discussed for almost two years without EU officials clinching deals with any African governments. Quite apart from host countries’ possible refusal to accept the idea, argument over the whole concept had been raging within Europe. European Commission officials were doubtful about the plan, fearing that the label of ‘concentration camps’ would add to the EU’s image problems. German politician Stephan Mayer did little to allay such fears when in mid-2018 he told the mass-circulation newspaper Bild that ‘transit centres are not prisons. In the centres, everyone can move freely but no one is allowed out.’ The proposed camps were hurriedly renamed ‘controlled centres’ until France’s new President Emmanuel Macron convened a meeting of the leaders of Germany, Italy, Niger, Chad and Libya to discuss them, at which point it was decided they would be called ‘refugee reception camps’. This renaming didn’t meet other objections to the scheme. The UNHCR considers them an affront to human rights. In 2016, UNHCR withdrew its cooperation with the increasingly insalubrious ‘hot spots’ on several Greek islands. When the new selection centres were first suggested in 2017 it immediately opposed them, followed by many of the NGOs that implement the EU’s humanitarian aid programmes. Then there are questions concerning the terms on which the camps would be operated. Most of all, what criteria would be used to select legal migrants, and how would unsuccessful applicants be returned home? There is also the cost issue. When the European Commission’s then president, Jean-Claude Juncker, was asked in March 2016 about a comparable scheme, the figures he gave to journalists were startling. The question had come while the ink was still drying on the €3 billion pact the EU had just signed with the Turkish government. As well as Ankara’s pledge to block further flows of Syrian refugees to Greece, this also involved the repatriation of some of them.

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


Juncker announced that a staff of 4,000 people would be dispatched to Greece to handle these repatriations. ‘We need case workers, interpreters, judges, return officers and security officers,’ he said. How they would be paid, and by whom, was unclear. In the event, it didn’t need to be explained as the repatriation problem never developed on the level that had been feared. The Turkish authorities ensured that refugee numbers soon dropped dramatically. Members of the European Parliament were informed that the flow of 739,000 migrants who had made their way through Turkey in the six months before the deal with Ankara had shrunk to 18,000 in the six months that followed it. Bureaucratic paralysis in Greece was such, meanwhile, that the anticipated surge in refugees to be returned to Turkey never took place. The thousands of irregular migrants who had been hurriedly housed in makeshift tented camps and a few public buildings were to remain there, stranded in a wretched legal limbo but not earmarked for repatriation. The scale of the emergency plan Juncker had outlined was nevertheless ambitious enough to give some idea of what the EU’s offshore ‘platforms’ might look like. Operating such camps would need far more than 4,000 people; positing 2,000 staff members for each of six camps at strategic locations from, say, Casablanca to Cairo, the cost would run into billions of euros. Average staff costs of at least €50,000 per head works out at a payroll cost of €600 million a year. Adding to that the expense of construction, administration and the transportation of people either to Europe or back to their country of origin, would give a highly conservative estimate of €2 billion. It will probably never come to that; the holes in the project are so large it is unlikely ever to see the light of day. Within weeks of the Brussels summit that launched it, the plan was being questioned by no less a figure than the member of the Juncker Commission in charge of international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica, whose portfolio brought him into direct contact with the African and Arab leaders whose support would be essential. ‘I don’t think,’ Mimica told a Financial Times reporter, ‘that we discussed or brought it as a clear, defined proposal to any of our partner


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countries.’ He went on to pour more cold water on the scheme by commenting, ‘We are still at the stage where some of the member states or some of the circles in Europe launched this idea, but without tackling all other considerations.’ In what appears to have been a hurried exercise in sleight of hand, the Commission had in the meantime quietly fudged the question of where the new centres would be located. Both within the EU and in ‘third countries’ in Africa, it explained in a press release that ‘controlled centres’ on European soil would be tasked with processing migrants who had made their way illegally to Europe, while ‘disembarkation platforms’ on the other side of the Mediterranean are to be established in cooperation with UNHCR and the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM). ‘No detention, no camps’ ran a headline on this part of the press release. It’s hard to tell what the eventual shape of these camps might be, and indeed whether they are feasible. They were the Juncker Commission’s hesitant solution to the bitter disagreements between member states on how to tackle migration. ‘Now more than ever we need common European solutions on migration,’ explained the EU’s then migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, adding in the same press release that ‘we are ready to support member states and third countries in better cooperating on disembarkation of those rescued at sea.’ It is up to the successor European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen to decide whether it will adopt a similar approach. Its five-year agenda up to 2024 was tantalizingly unclear, and since then the coronavirus crisis has substantially reordered the EU’s priorities. Meanwhile, commission members’ portfolio responsibilities for different facets of migration have been divided up, although the bulk of policymaking is in the hands of Avramopoulos’s fellow-Greek, Margaritis Schinas.

The faltering drive to encourage legal migration In April 2018, when the dust of the migrant crisis had begun to settle, Avramopoulos had tried to make an even-handed assessment of the

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


EU’s achievements along with the unmet challenges of migration. His comments were fair and balanced, but in the noisy European debate over migration they did not receive the attention they deserved. He noted that in two years the irregular flows had dropped by 63 per cent, even if ‘a lot still remains to be done’. Regarding the resettlement or assisted voluntary return of migrants and asylum reform, he acknowledged, ‘we need to deliver on our promises’. For the challenges, he said, ‘We must also enhance legal channels for economic migration with a more ambitious Blue Card for highly skilled workers, and kickstart targeted labour migration pilot projects in key third countries.’ Avramopoulos’s most enlightening remark was that ‘we cannot continue taking an ad hoc approach, thinking and acting with only short-term deadlines in mind. When it comes to migration, we’re in it for the long haul . . . Migration is deeply intertwined with our policies on economics, trade, education and employment.’ He then concluded, ‘unfortunately, the recent discourse on migration – influenced by rising nationalism, populism and xenophobia – has limited our opportunities to put in place smart, forward-looking migration policies, at both the national and European levels.’ An ex-diplomat and former Greek foreign minister, Avramopoulos was in the unhappy position of being nominally responsible for EU policy responses to the migration crisis, but largely powerless in the face of member governments’ insistence on national solutions. They could only agree that increased legal migration is the best way to choke off illegal immigrants. The EU’s impotence is illustrated by the fate of the Blue Card system introduced in 2009 and hailed as the ideal mechanism for matching Europe’s manpower needs with developing countries’ migration pressures. It was designed to encourage ‘circular migration’ in which workers with skills would be welcomed, housed and employed, and having earned satisfactory wages for an approved period would then return home. Their country of origin would thus benefit from the remittance of a part of their wages, but the brain drain of permanent expatriation would be avoided.


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Great in theory, but not in practice. Some EU countries – Spain and Belgium among them – dragged their feet on implementing the scheme. In Germany and the Netherlands, the bar on the qualifications was set too high. At most, 30,000 skilled workers asked for a Blue Card during its initial five-year period, and it’s still unclear how many will become circular migrants wanting to go back and contribute to their home country’s economy. As the Migration Policy Institute Europe put it, when the Commission conceded in 2016 that the scheme wasn’t working well, ‘not one but 25 Blue Card systems have emerged (Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom opted not to take part), in many cases in parallel to already well-developed channels for the highly skilled.’11 The confusion over how, and indeed whether, EU governments should implement the Blue Card scheme is little more than a footnote in the European Union’s history of failed attempts to forge common migration policies. And even when member states have been pressured into one, as with the September 2015 mandatory refugee quota-sharing deal, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic launched endless legal challenges. When the migrant crisis was at its height in the spring of 2016, a headline in the Brussels-based newsweekly Politico said it all. ‘Migration Summits: A Timeline of Failures’ ran the banner over an article that listed EU officials’ fruitless efforts to introduce solidarity into European governments’ responses to the refugee influx. By September of that year, the EU’s national leaders were again invited to define a long-term migration strategy. The European Council in the Slovakian capital adopted the ‘Bratislava Roadmap’ intended to ‘broaden EU consensus on long-term migration policy.’ The idea was that Europe should move away from its ‘home affairs silo’ and its focus on border management by widening it to embrace external relations.

Looking ahead for new ideas Commission officials began work on new arrangements and innovative budget proposals once the scale of the Syrian and Iraqi refugee problems

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had become clear in 2013, and redoubled their efforts when thousands of Africans drowned in the Mediterranean. In May 2015 a European Agenda on Migration was proposed as an overall strategy to ‘address both the immediate and long-term challenges of managing migration flows effectively and comprehensively.’ Since then the new Migration Partnership Framework aims to strike deals with African and Arab governments and uses the €3 billion EU–Turkey deal as a template for similar arrangements with such countries as Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Niger and Ethiopia. The extent to which EU governments will agree to fund it remains to be seen. Its initial cost over four years has been put at €8 billion, and this would be flanked by an even more ambitious €60 billion scheme called the European External Investment Fund. This Commission’s brainchild would, officials claimed, be funded chiefly by private investors in infrastructure projects in African and Arab countries, although Europe’s taxpayers were expected to prime the pump with initial EU funding. Other similarly far-sighted initiatives of this sort could be made part of a multifaceted strategy. Rather than pursue the controversial plan for building screening camps in parts of the Maghreb, argued some policymakers, might it not be better to select legal migrants in their own country, and thus overcome the need to arrange for the repatriation of unsuccessful candidates? The Brussels-based Centre for European and International Policy Action has put forward the idea of a European Agency for Resettlement and Migration Management (EARMM). Its director, former IOM official Peter von Bethlenfalvy, suggests that the EARMM should operate in migrants’ countries of origin and transit, and that as well as linking relevant EU agencies, it should create synergies with UN programmes so as to reduce over-spending.12 Some EU officials share this view. They say privately that rather than create an expensive and perhaps unwieldy new EU-level network of screening centres it would be better to base it on the diplomatic missions of EU member states. This strays into the minefield of member states’ national policies and even their sovereignty. Yet it clearly makes much


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more sense for embassies and consulates in sub-Saharan Africa and in Arab countries to be expanded by adding on migrant and refugee selection services. That would mean that those EU countries concerned must be prepared to accept more legal migrants. Substantially increasing legal migration is the most obvious way to reduce illegal migration. The truth, however, is that European countries have for the last decade been accepting fewer and fewer legal migrants. A mid-2018 report by European Commission researchers noted that until 2012 the vast majority of the 400,000 to 500,000 Africans who moved to Europe every year had arrived with the necessary visa and residence permits. That level has since ‘dropped significantly’. There were 442,000 legal migrants in 2008, and in 2012 that was cut to 270,000; it currently averages between 280,000 and 290,000 a year. This chiefly reflects cutbacks by EU countries on visas for people from North Africa, who had accounted for 57 per cent of legal migrants. Sub-Saharan Africa’s legal migrants were reduced from almost 200,000 a decade ago to a yearly average of 138,000. The authors of this report emphasized that ‘in counterpart, irregular arrivals of Africans across the Mediterranean have increased considerably in recent years.’ Compiled by the European Commission’s in-house Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography, the figures underlined the fact that residence permits granted for work reasons have fallen even more sharply than the overall downward trend. Work-related legal migration has been reduced by almost 70 per cent, falling from 83,000 in 2008 to 47,000 in 2011 and 23,000 in 2017.13 Politicians talk of the need to encourage more legal migration, but these figures tell a very different story. Residence permits granted by EU countries to migrants from North and West Africa have more or less halved since 2010 because governments accept fewer and fewer legal migrant workers. As researchers at the IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC) explained in mid-2019, the result has been increased numbers of irregular migrants.

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


In dry as dust language, the IOM statisticians laid the blame firmly at the door of EU governments. ‘Many member states have significant labour gaps,’ they write, mentioning agriculture, the building industry and domestic help, ‘and these sectors are increasingly filled by migrant workers who are often of irregular status.’14 A striking feature of Europe’s efforts to confront its migrant crisis is the sheer number of competing and uncoordinated initiatives. True to their management consultancy backgrounds, the authors of the MGI’s report on asylum procedures and integration management had this to say: ‘The EU should play a more active role in uniting the numerous stakeholders . . . This will be a defining challenge for Europe, testing its ability to honour its commitments, coordinate its member states, and set a benchmark for how advanced economies everywhere can respond in times of global humanitarian crisis.’15 The case for an authoritative and wide-ranging European plan for tackling migration has been greatly strengthened since it was first mooted in mid-2015. But support for it from Europe’s governments has, if anything, declined. The outline of such a plan was sketched out by EU officials at a time when drownings of migrants attempting to reach Italy and Greece were provoking worldwide concern. In southern Italy, the EU’s Operation Triton was rescuing successive waves of migrants from sinking vessels – at one point as many as 4,400 people in a single day. By 2020, illegal migration had dwindled to a comparative trickle. About 60,000 people made it to Europe in the first nine months of the year, well down on 2019 before and a tiny fraction of the 1.8 million who succeeded in reaching the EU illicitly over the same period of 2015. Of course, this slowdown is no guarantee of a long-term easing of migratory surges. The impact of the coronavirus in Africa and elsewhere may again intensify the pressures, so the EU’s need for a concerted approach to immigration is as great as ever. But the officials charged with fashioning one are well aware that the EU has consistently failed to promote new rules acceptable to all member states.


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The EU’s latest ‘last ditch’ migration defence plan Where, then, is EU policymaking on migration now headed? In late September 2020, the European Commission presented a new plan. Its president, Ursula von der Leyen, made it plain that she is determined to avoid the errors and missteps that dogged her predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker. The commission’s package of proposed reforms aims to make asylum and immigration policies more coherent, yet the plan’s weaknesses were revealed as soon as it was made public. Migration policy experts in some of Europe’s most prominent think tanks lost no time in voicing scepticism about the plan’s chances.16 Entitled a ‘New Migration Pact’, its cornerstone is to abolish the widely disputed 30-year-old Dublin Regulation imposing responsibility for migrants on the EU country they first set foot in. Dublin’s clumsy simplicity would, if member governments were ever to agree, be replaced by a complex system under which each EU country would decide on its own policies for handling both irregular economic migrants and asylum-seeking refugees. Different national policies would thus be implemented under the broad umbrella of a common EU approach. In other words, Brussels’ proposals have the appearance of a shared EU migration policy, but not the reality. The plan’s chief focus is on managing asylum applications in ways that include the extended (and perhaps protracted) use of detention centres, and on repatriating people through an accelerated deportation process euphemistically called ‘return sponsorship’. The proposals outline a highly optimistic financial burden-sharing formula based on member states’ size and wealth, which may or may not find favour with member governments. The plan’s still greater flaw is the absence of a convincing approach to securing the cooperation of the countries of origin to which irregular migrants would supposedly be returned. Its hints of possible trade concessions seem distant and not very enticing. There appears little

Europe’s Common Migration Policy is a Mirage


likelihood of the proposed migration pact being implemented in the foreseeable future, so the commission’s latest attempt to gain acceptance of a migration masterplan looks as ill-fated as ever. A more coherent approach to migration policy is possible, providing its elements are part of a long-term overall strategy and are introduced progressively over time. The details of such a strategic approach are set out in the last chapter of this book.



Design for a Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy

The coronavirus has been devastating social and economic structures around the world, but that doesn’t alter Europe’s longer-term problem of ageing and its need for more immigration. It is too soon to say whether post-coronavirus recovery measures will address the demographic deficit or ignore it. This chapter proposes three categories – short-term, medium-term and long-term policy solutions – that could be implemented progressively by 2025, 2035 and mid-century. It’s often worthwhile to look back when looking forward. In 1942, when the Second World War was reaching its crescendo, Sir William Beveridge was mapping out a socially caring blueprint for Britain’s post-war future. As with today’s struggle against Covid-19, the war wasn’t yet won but it was clear it would not be lost. A striking feature of the coronavirus crisis is its similarity to the Second World War in the sense that, although the economic aftermath is daunting, it also offers great opportunities. Radical change is much more attainable when disruption is profound. The devastating impact of coronavirus lockdowns on lives, livelihoods and jobs is being hailed as a strengthening of the fight against climate change, and it could also open doors to a fairer and more progressive society. Migration policies are potentially major beneficiaries of postCovid-19 economic recovery strategies. The runaway unemployment figures caused by the lockdowns might at first seem to banish previous fears of labour shortages. Not so; warnings that Europe urgently needs more migrant workers are still valid. The coronavirus crisis has 191


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brought much ‘frictional’ joblessness, but it hasn’t resolved ‘structural’ deficiencies. We can’t yet know how deep the global depression will be, nor how long it will last. It is plain that the globalization model that was built up so rapidly over the past half-century is undergoing significant changes, and that extended supply chains of industrial products stretching around the world are being radically shortened. But that doesn’t tell us whether a new era of ‘social distancing’ now stretches ahead, with online communication methods severely reducing our age-old reliance on human contact. What we can be sure of is that robotics and AI alone will not be enough to kick-start a new era of vigorous economic growth. Europe needs taxpayers and consumers to fuel recovery, and despite the length of the dole queues in many countries, the underlying problem of labour shortages isn’t going away. A strategic approach akin to the wartime Beveridge Report that shaped post-war Britain is needed to link Europe’s industrial and social policymaking. We Europeans need to start thinking long term. Newspapers and politicians talk of migration in the here and now, yet we should also have in mind generations yet unborn. That means shaping policies to suit our younger people, their children and their children’s children. By mid-century, today’s toddlers will be mature thirty-somethings, so our post-coronavirus responses should be relevant to society three or four decades hence. But what will Europe look like in 2050? We should think back thirty years, when the fall of the Berlin Wall meant the world had to digest the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the reunification of Europe, followed by Asia’s rise and by Islamic militancy. Economic booms and busts subsequently reshaped political landscapes around the world. The first two decades of the twenty-first century have brought many upheavals, but they may be looked back on as placid in comparison to the disruptions that lie ahead. AI, digitalization and the so-called fourth industrial revolution prompted

A Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy


by sweeping technological advances are likely to prove minor factors in relation to longevity. In 2050, many of today’s middle-aged will still be hale and hearty, and reluctant to take a back seat politically. By then, though, the millennials will have reason to be profoundly disgruntled. Their living standards will be markedly lower than were those of their parents. How much lower we can’t tell, nor can we say how they will react. They may well be resentful, and that could spell social and political trouble on a scale that dwarfs the current tensions in Europe over immigration. The millennials and the generations after them face handicaps that new technologies will be hard put to reduce. Young Europeans will be saddled with inadequate and expensive housing, the job insecurities of the gig economy and steadily rising tax burdens to finance the growing number of pensioners. Above all, there’s going to be the political disadvantage of being an electoral minority. As well as their slowness in turning out to vote – more than half of the EU’s over-55s voted in the 2019 elections to the European Parliament, as against 28 per cent of 18–24s – younger voters will be outnumbered. By 2080, getting on for a third of the European electorate will be over 65 years old. The post-war baby boom lasted less than a quarter of a century, and gave way in the 1970s to a baby bust that shows little sign of easing. The shrinking of Europe’s youthful population is a grave threat to the continent’s economic and political stability, yet its implications receive little attention. Demographics and migration must be addressed in tandem. They are interdependent because turning immigration to Europe’s advantage will be fruitless unless the inequalities and costs of ageing are also mastered. Some of the measures needed are comparatively modest and easy to implement. Others demand the comprehensive overhaul of deep-rooted social welfare and tax systems. Linked to that is the urgent need to defuse migration socially and politically, contrasted by the slow pace of European public opinion’s cultural and political adaptation. This chapter groups its proposed solutions in three categories. The first consists of five-year policies that national governments could adopt


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on a fairly ad hoc basis because they do not require EU-wide agreement. The second is made up of ten-year targets aimed at more complex policy shifts that make little sense unless applied by all EU countries. Category three consists of twenty-five-year turnarounds that would be hugely ambitious and politically divisive, involving revolutionary changes to pensions, retirement ages, death duties, inheritance taxes and property ownership.

2020–2025 Immediate Measures Make a bonfire of immigration red tape The tangle of national rules and regulations on immigration is aggravating matters. Dealing with large numbers of newcomers is just too complicated. Whether they are refugees seeking political asylum or economic migrants seeking work, most newcomers are denied the essentials of modern life. They lack the ID documents to open a bank account, without which they often cannot rent decent accommodation or apply for work. In only a handful of European countries can refugees look for a job right away. In most they have to wait for varying lengths of time before being permitted to seek work. Then there are the different national rules governing eligibility for training courses and even language lessons. There’s also a plethora of bureaucratic obstacles to having existing qualifications recognized. The EU should slice through this Gordian knot; it’s in everyone’s interest because red tape is expensive for taxpayers and in no way strengthens native Europeans’ own security. A single European identity card should be issued to all refugees and economic migrants upon arrival. Their details would be recorded and held by a single panEuropean registry and would supersede the national finger-printing and ID systems that have been the source of much confusion. The registry would be accessible online to all legitimate enquirers.

A Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy


Myriad national and local rules weigh heavily on regional and municipal authorities, and exacerbate the difficulties of receiving migrants and integrating them. Concerns over national sovereignty are the chief barrier to a pan-European rulebook, yet the prize would be handsome financial and administrative savings. A common ID card amounting to a ‘passport’ for newcomers would help to rationalize migrants’ access to healthcare and social benefits. It would establish their tax status and employment record, thus providing the information to define the economic costs and contributions of Europe’s migrants. The angry and emotional arguments over the expense of migrant ‘invasions’ would be calmed if official figures demonstrated the ways that newcomers sooner or later pay their way.

Close the gulf between refugees and economic migrants Many migration and refugee policy professionals resist scrapping the distinction between these two categories, and with history and inertia on their side, the best hope is a softening of both of these misleading characterizations that are making it more difficult, not less, to integrate newcomers to Europe. The rights of political refugees asking for asylum are enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention, and are rooted in the Cold War and the idea that the West should offer freedom to anyone fleeing the Soviet bloc. Over the years the system has been adapted to changing geopolitics, but broadly speaking refugees are seen as ‘the good’ who deserve support and a warm welcome. Economic migrants, on the other hand, are seen as far less deserving, to the point of being dismissed by politicians and public opinion as ‘the bad’. Defenders of the Geneva Convention argue the moral case for maintaining its rules, but in real life these are making matters worse. More and more economic migrants now present themselves as asylum seekers because they believe this improves their chances of being accepted. This overburdens the asylum process in many EU countries and has the longer-term effect of increasing the number of


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undocumented migrants whose asylum bids are rejected but who avoid being returned home. No one can say exactly how many illegal migrants there are in Europe now, but they could number four million. The Migration Policy Centre at the EU-funded European University Institute (EUI) near Florence, Italy, has said that ‘although difficult to get trustworthy estimates, it is believed that there are between two and four million irregular migrants in the EU.’1 The Florence-based researchers were concerned at the time of their 2015 report with the growth of the black market in illegal workers. Since then the flow of irregular migrants has increased substantially, so the focus of concern has shifted from the lack of work permits to the growth of criminality among illegal migrants. This worrying development owes much to poorly thought-out immigration policies in host countries. In Britain, France and Italy, for example, only about a third of new arrivals who claim to be political refugees are found to be genuine and are granted asylum. In Germany, where assessment is more lenient, the acceptance rate for asylum applications rises to two-thirds. But because Germany handles so many more newcomers than other EU countries, that adds up to an even larger number of rejected refugees. Disappointed asylum seekers are, in theory, served with papers ordering them to return voluntarily to their country of origin, or be deported. In practice, a high proportion of these deportations never take place because refugees who have been refused asylum melt away into the anonymity of Europe’s unregistered workforce. According to Jussi Halla-aho, who was the European Parliament’s Rapporteur at the time of their report on asylum issues, six out of ten people denied asylum remain in Europe. The Finnish politician found that not only do they often resist deportation, but also that their own governments back home refuse to recognize the return papers issued by EU countries. Unsuccessful asylum seekers can thus be trapped in limbo. Echoing other calls for a single EU identity card,2 he has also

A Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy


argued that European Union member states should issue a common travel document for migrants.3 This is not to say that the status of refugees should be weakened. On the contrary, there is a clear case for their strengthened protection and support. But more flexibility for those who head for Europe would be a great help. The IMF has warned for some time that the backlog in unprocessed asylum applications is seriously delaying the absorption of genuine refugees. The obvious solution is to open Europe’s doors wider to economic migrants. In other words, to abolish tight restrictions on immigrants attracted to Europe by the prospect of work and a better life. The rhetoric of officialdom across Europe has been that legal immigration should be encouraged as a key to discouraging unmanageable illegal surges. That’s the official line within the European Commission and in national governments, but in reality, the opposite is true. Legal migration to Europe has been declining sharply. Until about ten years ago, 2012–13, the average yearly flow of legal migrants into Europe had been running at half a million people, among them a fairly high proportion of children, spouses or grandparents being reunited with their families. A clampdown on family reunifications has since then almost halved legal migration to EU countries to an average of 280,000 people a year. As to work visas for legal migrants – the category supposedly prioritized by EU governments – these dropped by over 70 per cent between 2008 and 2017. Whether through hypocrisy or ignorance of the facts, national governments and other relevant authorities in Europe have not recognized the importance of bringing in more people to swell EU countries’ dwindling workforces. They have so far been content to focus on ways of limiting immigrants, and thanks to the EU’s deal with Turkey that also means refugees. But these attempts to turn the tide of African and Arab people escaping poverty and conflict are doomed to failure. A more intelligent and effective approach is to accept these willing workers and then ensure they get the training they need to find a job.


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Let private citizens tackle the migrant crisis Within a few kilometres of the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters, Brussels’ inhabitants have been pointing to more effective ways of integrating migrants than those favoured by officialdom. EU officials are reluctant to be involved in domestic politics, but they could nevertheless take a leaf from the way ordinary people in the ‘capital of Europe’ have been showing the way ahead. The authorities in Brussels picked on the wrong woman when, in 2017, they sent a police squad to Anouk Van Gestel’s home. The editorin-chief of mass-circulation French women’s magazine Marie-Claire’s Belgian edition was browbeaten, searched and detained at length for sheltering a 16-year-old ‘sans papiers’ Sudanese boy. Seven policemen battered her door down and subjected her to a six-hour interrogation that vividly illustrated the way national authorities don’t just fail to harness citizens’ sympathies for migrants but actively oppose them. Van Gestel and twelve others were eventually acquitted of charges of human trafficking in a case that sparked mass protests. Van Gestel, who has since gone into politics, campaigned against the way the authorities have been abusing their special powers. She is among the tens of thousands of private Belgian citizens who have opened their doors to homeless and disoriented foreigners. Mehdi Kassou, a former Samsung executive, masterminds an independent organization called The Hub that first operated out of Brussels’ Gare du Nord to give migrants medical help and advice, and then was given free accommodation by the Port de Bruxelles on the nearby Antwerp–Charleroi canal. Working with NGOs like Médecins du Monde and Caritas, The Hub puts migrants in touch with the estimated twenty thousand people in the city who offer shelter to strangers for varying lengths of time. Other private initiatives include the DoucheFlux open house, which provides showers and legal advice with the support of the giant Alstom engineering group, and the Kookmet meals-cum-meeting point that is one of forty similar initiatives by the state-sponsored King Baudouin Foundation.

A Realistic 2020–50 Immigration Strategy


The point of these anecdotes is that Brussels, like many other major cities, has become a testing ground for ways to handle newcomers. But ranged against these volunteers are the hardliners who insist that making life easier for new arrivals attracts more of them. Governments and the semi-governmental agencies tasked with handling migration are under-resourced and ill-suited to many of the responsibilities given to them. Rather than private initiatives being restrained, they should be encouraged and offered incentives. The risks that banks believe they run when opening accounts for migrants should be covered by government guarantees. Subsidies for landlords renting to migrants could help put more rental properties on the market. Wage supports could give employers an extra incentive to hire migrants, and major corporations could be given tax holidays if they engage in job creation and training schemes, or support NGOs and other volunteer organisations.

Boost the birth rate France and Sweden top Europe’s fertility league with above-average birth rates that reflect long-standing cultural practices. France’s postwar social policies centred around tax incentives and income supports for larger families, and Sweden has led the way on affordable childcare that frees working mothers during the day. Both countries nevertheless fall short of the 2.1 children per couple that is the replacement rate needed to stabilize their native populations. France’s 1.92 children per couple is far higher than the European average of 1.6, and is followed by Sweden with 1.85. But on the whole, Europeans’ present production rate of 5.1 million babies a year falls far short of what is needed. Tax and welfare reforms can begin to address the shortfall, but will obviously take time. The results these schemes deliver in the short term therefore make them vulnerable to budget cuts before they can have proved their worth. ‘Cash for babies’ would seem a simple policy solution, and drew headlines around Europe when the small town of


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Alcoutim in southern Portugal announced a generous payment to residents of €5,000 per newborn. Its birth rate of 0.9 babies per couple was even lower than the Portuguese average of 1.21, and over the last twenty years the town’s population has shrunk by a third. It’s too soon to tell whether Alcoutim’s payouts will pay off, but a very similar scheme had already been tried in Russia, and found wanting. From 2007–2016 Russian women were offered equivalent cash incentives for motherhood, but the trial was abandoned because it was judged to yield only ‘marginal results’. What other measures, then, might reverse the downward birth trend? First, a French-style shift towards tax and benefit systems based on family sizes rather than individuals. Then, Scandinavian-style subsidies for nurseries, crèches, kindergartens and childminding. Also, subsidies for student-parents and for parents taking sabbatical leave. Finally, property taxes that favour child-rearing families and that penalize the underuse of larger houses and apartments.

Speed newcomers into work A variety of measures could help speed migrants into work either as employees or as entrepreneurs. Many migrants come from entrepreneurial cultures, so providing goods and services to fellow immigrants comes naturally. Creating funds to help would-be entrepreneurs get started is probably the easiest of policies. Local governments can, if covered by national or EU backing, advance credit to business start-ups. Microcredits have been particularly successful in Asia and Africa – especially for female entrepreneurs – and comparable schemes should be promoted among immigrant communities. An array of guarantees and tax incentives is also needed. Policies directed toward the employment of migrants are less straightforward. Fierce debate surrounds the question of whether migrants should receive the statutory minimum wage. There is a strong prejudice against creating an unfairly cheap pool of labour. Ranged against this is the argument that largely unskilled migrant workers

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should be allowed to price themselves into work. The reality, meanwhile, is that there already exists a large and growing black market in undocumented, irregular migrants who are available at attractively low pay rates. The common-sense solution would seem to be a combination of wage subsidies to be paid by governments, and an amnesty that would enable illegals and ‘sans papiers’ to register and receive work permits and other necessary documentation with no questions asked. Another powerful argument is that subsidies could help to increase wage levels that have barely risen since the 2008 economic crisis; a sluggishness that is widely seen as having braked economic growth. Wage subsidies have been used successfully in Denmark to speed migrants into salaried jobs. They have encouraged employers there to hire migrants, and are reckoned to have cut by between three and six months the average two years it has taken immigrants to Denmark to find a job. From the viewpoint of the state, it’s obvious that the initial cost of subsidizing a migrant’s wages is soon repaid by taxes on income and consumption.

Public information campaigns to attack myths The difficulties surrounding immigration tend to be political rather than practical. Cultural and racial differences are compounded by myths and misunderstandings about the true nature of the newcomers. And there seems little doubt that migrants are scapegoated for the tougher living conditions many native Europeans have endured for a decade as a consequence of austerity. Resentment against migrants is notoriously greater in regions where migrants are fewest. When this fear of the unknown is exploited by populist politicians, mainstream parties are hit the hardest. In the interests of self-preservation, these political parties should be launching information campaigns to demolish dangerous myths, although most seem reluctant to do so apparently because they fear this would bring migration to the electorates’ attention.


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As a result, they are presenting the populists with an open goal. Mainstream politicians need to emphasize that an increased immigrant workforce is crucial to the survival of state-run pension schemes. If the dependency ratio in European countries continues to decline in line with the native population’s ageing there will soon be only two workers per pensioner. No migrants, therefore, means lower pensions. There’s also the stubborn fallacy that newcomers ‘steal’ jobs by undercutting native Europeans through cheaper wages. It isn’t true, but rather than debate economic theory and the IMF’s research, perhaps the best way to demolish the myth is to highlight practical experiences. Germany, Austria and Sweden – the countries that have accepted the bulk of refugees and job-seeking migrants – have benefitted economically. Sweden’s GDP is growing at twice the rate of other Scandinavian countries that have been less receptive to newcomers. The hard facts are incontrovertible, but here too the mainstream political parties fail to present them to their electorates.

2025–2035 Intermediate Measures Migration policies only make sense if they are Europe-wide The refusal of many European countries to act in concert on immigration has made headlines since 2015. This already threatens the integrity of the EU, while the absence of a shared approach to migration poses a serious long-term danger. There can be no borderless European single market leading to a continental-scale economy if EU member states refuse to accept citizens’ freedom of movement. Migration is not just an internal policy question for EU member states. The growing pressures of emigration from African and Arab countries mean it is becoming a central pillar of the EU’s external policies. Discussion of EU policy choices of course centres on economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus, but important though eurozone governance and EU reforms are, so too are demographic decline and

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social upheaval. Positive immigration policies are essential if the political toxicity surrounding migration is to be addressed. Increased immigration is both inevitable and desirable. It must be handled intelligently, by common rules and policies. This section therefore looks at the measures European governments should adopt in their own best interests, and implement by 2035.

‘Holemanship’ – the first lesson for the EU is to stop digging One of the oldest jokes in politics is also sound advice; if a policy is wrong and making matters worse, drop it. Unfortunately, the migration policies of the European Union so far have been deepening the hole it is in. EU governments have responded to public anxieties about immigration by erecting ever-higher barriers. They have earmarked more taxpayers’ money for external defences against irregular migrants from Africa than is being spent by the EU on economic development projects there. The populist-style message to anti-migrant voters in Europe – and to would-be newcomers from outside Europe – is that ‘Fortress Europe’ is unassailable. They promise walls that will ensure the surges of 2015–16 can never happen again. It’s nonsense, of course. Barring the routes that migrants can take is a physical impossibility as well as a political minefield. Many EU countries liked the idea of reception centres to assess migrants’ seeking a work visa when it was presented to them in mid2018, but now it is being quietly dropped. Countries along the southern shores of the Mediterranean are wary of hosting ‘disembarkation platforms’, and EU governments have shown no enthusiasm for operating them on their own soil, recognizing the camps as potential PR disasters. There’s also a dawning realization throughout the Mediterranean region that sheer weight of numbers is liable to make such measures appear puny. The European Commission’s decision to employ an extra 7,000 frontier guards, and so swell the ranks of the EU’s Frontex force


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to 10,000, will no doubt strengthen internal defences against irregular migration, but not Europe’s external barriers. As obedient civil servants, European Commission officials have been carrying out the policies dictated to them by their political masters. They hurriedly financed and helped plan the refugee camps erected on Greek islands and elsewhere to house the Syrian and other refugees who arrived in their hundreds of thousands in 2015 and 2016. The EU’s Brussels machinery also hammered out burden-sharing proposals in response to anguished Greek and Italian demands for other countries to shoulder their fair share.

What EU officials think (but not member governments) But the Commission’s fonctionnaires are not like national civil servants. Their responsibilities include the right to propose policies to the EU’s governments. Technically, they even have a monopoly on shaping policy proposals, although in practice that has been somewhat diluted in recent years when national capitals have reminded Brussels that he who pays the piper calls the tune. EU officialdom is nevertheless increasingly concerned that measures aimed at choking off immigration are not the answer. ‘The EU,’ wrote the Commission’s top official charged with handling migration, ‘needs migration policy to be developed with a wider and more long-term outlook.’ In a carefully worded preface to a Commission-backed report in 2017, Matthias Ruete, the veteran eurocrat who was director-general for migration and home affairs throughout the height of the migrant crisis, made it plain that a far more sophisticated approach is required. He emphasized the external as well as the internal dimension of handling migration: ‘Legal migration, now even more than in the past, can be seen as providing positive incentives for more resilient relations with the main countries of origin of migrants, including those coming via irregular channels.’ In the autumn of 2014, six months before the migrant crisis broke, a middle-ranking Dutch commission official on Matthias Ruete’s team,

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travelled to Florence to take up a visiting fellowship at the EU-funded European University Institute. Drawing on thinking at the EUI’s Migration Policy Centre, Peter Bosch then published a discussion paper setting out a number of imaginative proposals. Unlike many of the national policymakers across Europe whose focus was on stemming immigration, Bosch’s ideas linked migration with ageing and Europe’s growing manpower shortages. Entitled ‘Towards a pro-active European labour migration policy’, his paper set out in no uncertain terms the steps needed and the hurdles to be overcome. Bosch sheltered his views behind the protective device of an independent academic paper because the Commission’s imprimatur could not be placed on his work. He wrote: ‘The perception of “migration” by large parts of the European population is downright negative, and most politicians duck the issue. Others, instead, stir up emotions in a way that is sometimes xenophobic, creating a toxic environment that makes public perception hostile towards a more open policy.’ Bosch’s suggestions included the creation by the Commission of mechanisms to assess the labour requirements of industrial sectors, mentoring programmes for skilled migrants and their spouses, more language courses and teacher training. Most controversial of all was the proposed regularization of as many as four million unauthorized migrant workers, and improvements to the portability of qualifications. His paper also urged a radical overhaul of the EU’s outdated visa policies, with special emphasis on visas for students, job searchers and entrepreneurs with business start-up ambitions. He pointed out that although many EU governments say they want to attract the best and brightest as immigrants, the reality is that most of the four million-plus foreign students who attend European universities leave the EU after graduation. Bosch’s to-do list spans ways of improving the handling of family reunifications, skills certification, the integration of economic migrants into the labour force and screening asylum seekers. It sets out


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suggestions for a comprehensive work programme for the Commission to undertake in close cooperation with member governments.4

What the European Commission could do The impasse between EU member states over European asylum and migration policies has reduced the Commission to working in the margins rather than creating an overall plan. The Brussels Commission is anyway far from being the sole EU actor. Researchers at the MGI have commented: ‘The number of stakeholders involved in Europe’s immigration arena impedes the decision-making process and heightens the difficulty of agreeing on a joint strategy.’5 But the Commission still has a number of irons in the fire. To start with, it has money. The EU’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2014–20 stood at €3.137 billion as part of an overall budget of €12.3 billion largely earmarked for defensive measures like border controls and for the return of refugees and irregular migrants, with some of that funding made available for integration and training schemes. For 2021–27, the AMIF is to be greatly expanded to just over €10 billion, and there are calls from some parts of the EU’s ‘family’ of institutions for it to eventually rise to €16 billion so as to help finance local and regional costs stemming from immigration. The Commission should be working to persuade member governments that they must substantially boost their budget contributions for migration, even if that task is made harder by Brexit and the shortfall in UK financial contributions. Greece and Italy need to be reassured that more EU money will be available to defray their costs, and extra funding should also go to local authorities in northern countries like Germany, Sweden and Hungary that have borne the brunt of the migrant surges. The Commission has pushed for an impressive array of activities that range from trade and development policies intended to boost the economies of African and Arab countries to more specific schemes involving migrants. Where the EU falls down is in its failure to have designed and presented a clear-cut overall approach.

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The EU institutions should shape a wider agenda The EU has neglected widening the migration policy debate and moving public opinion towards a long-term strategy. Brussels should look beyond the immediate questions of acceptance and integration of newcomers and address the major political and economic questions. Immigration on the scale that is likely in the years ahead promises fundamental change. The security of European citizens will depend on the stabilization of Africa and the Arab world, and it will be incumbent on the EU to persuade public opinion throughout Europe that migration and its root causes are not problems faced only by its southern member states. This chiefly concerns EU foreign policy, and means that Brussels and the member governments must do more to explain that enlightened developmental policies are in Europeans’ best interest. It is cheaper and far less disruptive to increase living standards and job opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East than it is to face uncontrollable migratory surges. At home in Europe, there’s the thorny and unresolved question of newcomers’ political rights and representation. There are sharp differences of opinion on how to handle this, but it is already obvious that as the size of migrant communities increases, tensions will grow over their democratic influence and power. Martin Hofmann at the Vienna-based International Centre for Migration Policy Development has drawn attention to the risks of denying, or even delaying, newcomers a voice in their adopted country. ‘When democracy is seen as an instrument for conflict prevention,’ he warned in a 2014 paper on migrants’ political rights, ‘the nonparticipation of larger shares of the population is not a desirable situation . . . Immigrants should not have to wait eternally before becoming fully acknowledged members of the societies they may have lived in for many years.’6 The unabashedly controversial Serbian-American economist Branko Milanović promotes a very different view. He suggests that granting full political rights to all residents will make native populations less likely to accept more migrants. He argues that ‘the arrival of migrants threatens


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to diminish or dilute the premium enjoyed by citizens of rich countries,’ and says this threat can be defused by ‘redefining citizenship in such a way that migrants are not allowed to lay claim to the entire premium falling to citizens straight away, if at all.’7 The notion of a formal second-class citizenship for Europe’s immigrants will be anathema to many, whatever their concerns about migration. But it is a topic that Europe’s politicians – and the EU itself – should seize on. Discussion of such fundamental values is essential, and how they should be applied to the millions of newcomers who will be heading for Europe. EU officialdom is much more comfortable with technical matters than with political or societal issues. Understandably so, because that’s where it has a clear mandate. But when faced with the deep-seated changes that will be brought about by immigration, the European Union must initiate and encourage an EU-wide debate on the issues this raises. We already know that purely national migration policies could one day destroy the EU. In the twenty years since the European Council met at Tampere, Finland, to launch a common migration policy, the EU has fiddled at the edges of a problem that has since taken on potentially devastating dimensions. It will be up to the 2019–24 European Commission, led by Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, to grasp the nettle. The Brussels executive cannot force an increasingly intergovernmental EU to adopt proposals for a determined new policy, but it can use its powerful voice to address public opinion.

2035–2050 Strategies for mid-century Demographic decline is also about the underprivileged young The European Union is rightly chided for failing to develop a strategy on ageing, but where both EU and national policymakers are really falling down is in considering the impacts on younger people.

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Millennials and successive generations will be saddled with the huge costs of integrating more migrants, and they will also be confronted by the disruptive impacts on Europe’s labour markets of digitalization and far more heterogeneous and multicultural civil societies. Yet today’s young are an impoverished generation in comparison to their elders, so ways of improving their lot are urgently needed. There have not yet been any imaginative EU policy responses to the intergenerational divide. The wealth gap between younger and older Europeans is widening. The European Commission hasn’t been making much of this. It produced a report on ageing in 2015 to emphasize that by 2040 there will only be two working age Europeans for every pensioner, down from the present four. But little or no attention is paid to the other side of the coin – the growing disadvantages that younger people must contend with. The smooth ‘convection’ of assets passed on by parents to their children is being dislocated by longevity. And Europe’s much smaller families, which have been shrinking since the 1960s, mean younger people will long be outnumbered as a voting bloc. As to wealth, the IMF drew a gloomy picture when it looked at younger people’s financial prospects. Those under 34 have less than 5 per cent of net wealth in Europe, and their median wealth is only a tenth of that of the over-65s. Older people are hanging on longer to homes and pensions, while the young face higher barriers to jobs and housing. The under-30s account for just over half of the global population, and this proportion is rising. They suffer from unfairly high unemployment levels, which will increase over the next decade with the arrival worldwide of another billion young job-seekers. At the same time, digitalization, the gig economy and underdevelopment in poorer countries will be creating veritable armies of dissatisfied and jobless people. A cohesive Europe-wide approach to taxation and benefits systems should aim to reduce the handicaps on younger generations. In short, we need a global rethink on intergenerational imbalances.


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The longer-term pressure points to be addressed The growing focus on ageing has seen shifts in spending towards healthcare and pensions. But most state-run pension schemes in Europe are headed for bankruptcy, and projected healthcare costs are adding to the pressures on governments’ budgets.

Pensions There are, broadly speaking, only two types of pension, and both are in trouble. The defined benefits (DB) system links the stipend to be paid to a retiree with his or her salary, while the defined contribution (DC) method hands the pensioner an agreed sum to be invested and yield income as he or she sees fit. DB pensions were popular in times of healthy economic growth, and were preferred by both private and public sector employers as a way of limiting pay rises. Now they are a huge liability. When bankers at Citigroup looked at the exposure of governments to their own DB schemes, they calculated that for twenty of the OECD’s thirty-seven member countries these unfunded liabilities amount to an astounding $78 trillion. In the UK alone, the pensions funding deficit is reckoned at £460 billion while its Pension Protection Fund has assets of only £23 billion.8 The outlook for DC-style pensions is no better. Thanks in large part to very low interest rates in recent years, anyone who must eke out a retirement income from the lump sum paid by employers faces a grim future. Twenty years ago, people retiring at 65 would have needed to put down £100,000 from their DC payout to get a yearly pension of £11,170. Now, the same investment guarantees an annual income of barely £5,000. Europeans’ pensions are running into serious trouble, and by 2050 the situation will be far worse. By mid-century a quarter of Europe’s population will be over-65, so radical change is needed if future generations of pensioners are not to be very badly off. The forecasts are already bleak as it’s reckoned that if millennials set aside a tenth of their

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net incomes for investment in a private pension, they still won’t be able to retire until they reach their mid-eighties.

Housing Young people must contend with increasingly severe housing shortages. These will only ease if governments do a U-turn on their current policies and launch ambitious new home-building drives. The difficulties of finding an affordable home near the workplace are growing, and whether for renting or buying, housing costs are a handicap on the financial prospects of younger generations. Housing Europe, a Brussels-based NGO, reckons that half of all young people in the EU have to spend a disproportionate slice of their disposable income on housing. On average, 40 per cent of their wage goes on rent or a mortgage, rising to two-thirds in Germany and almost four-fifths in Denmark. Housing Europe’s researchers note that only in Finland are these costs at an acceptable level, and that’s because about a quarter of a century ago the country initiated a determined house construction programme. The house building trend in the EU has been downwards for several decades, and tailed off disastrously following the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent austerity. In 2009, EU governments spent €50 billion on new homes, but by 2015 that had more or less halved to €27 billion. The spending difference wasn’t saved, though, as during that period the subsidies paid out by governments in housing supports rose from €55 billion a year to €80 billion.9 Short-sighted policies of this sort are part of a much wider problem. More must be done to match available housing to local employment patterns, and that means either moving more houses to the jobs or more jobs to the houses. With rural underdevelopment a growing worry in a number of Europe’s regions, the answer is far-sighted planning linked to investment incentives. There is a strong case for introducing tax reforms that will help younger people to afford home ownership and build-up their assets and


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savings. The UK’s OBR reckons that the average 40-year-old pays four times more in taxes than someone of 80, and receives four times less in benefits. Wage subsidies for younger people with modest earnings would boost their take-home pay and help them afford adequate housing and a private pension. It would make sense, too, to subsidize larger families and thus turn Europe’s demographic deficit around by the beginning of the second half of this century.

Taxation It’s not too late to resolve many of the structural problems facing Europeans through root-and-branch tax reforms. As well as making taxation fairer, that means heading off beggar-thy-neighbour tax policies that some EU countries use to attract investment. New ideas are needed on taxation from a coherent European perspective rather than as competing national measures to attract investment. As well as easing the burdens on younger people, governments could quite easily introduce common-sense tax reforms that increase revenues. These include raising tax levels on land values in city centres because most European countries tend to base tax assessments on buildings rather than on the land they occupy, thus placing an unfair burden on provincial real estate rather than on wealthier cities. Tax revenues must obviously be increased to pay for social and economic change, and it’s also clear that taxing companies more heavily is necessary but tricky. There’s the difficulty of internet-based corporations with worldwide earnings and few clear national characteristics, and the danger that heavier corporate taxation risks making European businesses less competitive in global markets. Tax experts increasingly urge governments to target investors rather than companies. Investors are less able to move between different tax jurisdictions, and generally value the safety and predictability of their investments as much as sheer profit. The EU doesn’t have a good track record for persuading member governments to cooperate on tax matters. Its efforts are often dismissed

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as ‘another Brussels power grab’, and national tax authorities also see advantages in competing with one another. These are lame excuses for neglecting a common fiscal strategy that looks towards the coming tectonic shifts in Europe’s political economy. To pay for ageing and the far more heterogenous society that increased migration promises, governments will need more cash. Ensuring that there are enough taxpayers with adequate resources therefore means tackling younger people’s disadvantages and speeding migrants into the workforce.

It’s all in the mindset European nations may well be on the threshold of a new migrant crisis that will dwarf that of 2015–16. It is possible to regulate migrant flows from African and Arab countries, and even harness them to Europe’s advantage, but they cannot be turned off like a tap. The EU’s agenda will be dominated for the foreseeable future by the economic depression resulting from the coronavirus. The impact of Covid-19 may encourage the closer integration that has eluded Europe throughout the early decades of the twenty-first century, or it may force its further disintegration. There are, though, greater pressures in play than the Covid-19-induced slowdown, and the linked forces of ageing and migration must become central to Europe’s recovery strategy. The proposals in this chapter are far from exhaustive, but the essential message is that Europe must stop pretending immigration is a fleeting phenomenon. It isn’t temporary, and must instead be recognized as a long-term game changer. So far, the EU’s ideas for collaboration on migration and ageing have not advanced much beyond vague generalizations and platitudes. And as well as seeing these pressures as domestic policy questions, the European External Action Service should highlight migration-related issues as explicit elements of EU foreign policy. And EU member governments should create migration ministries that cut through interdepartmental confusions of responsibility.


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Developments along these lines could do much to alter Europeans’ mindsets on immigration. Our shared public consciousness must adapt to the inevitability of a more multicultural and multi-ethnic Europe, and understand why we must accept this and adapt to it. It’s time to wake up, look ahead and embrace change.

Notes Chapter 1 1 ‘Global Migration’s Impact and Opportunity’, McKinsey Global Institute, December 2016. 2 ‘Most Believe Immigrants Increase Risk of Terrorism’, Pew Research Center, May 2019. 3 Anthony Cordesman, ‘Trends in European Terrorism: 1970–2016’, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 2017. 4 ‘Europe’s New Refugees: A Road Map for Better Integration Outcomes’, McKinsey Global Institute, December 2016. 5 ‘Immigration: Politics Risks De-railing Economic Growth’, Oxford Martin School-Citigroup, September 2018. 6 ‘International Migration Outlook 2018’, OECD, 2018; and ‘Is Migration Good for the Economy?’, OECD Migration Policy Debates, May 2014. 7 ‘Muslim Population Growth in Europe’, Pew Research Center, November 2017. 8 Robert Gordon, ‘The Demise of U.S. Economic Growth: Restatement, Rebuttal and Reflections’, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, February 2014. 9 ‘More Than 750m Would Emigrate If They Could’, Gallup, December 2018. 10 ‘The Refugee Surge in Europe’, IMF Staff Discussion Note, January 2016.

Chapter 2 1 Jean-Michel Boussemart and Michel Godet, ‘Europe 2050: Suicide Démographique’, in The Schuman Report on Europe, the State of the Union 2017, Fondation Robert Schuman, March 2017. 2 ‘Six Demographic Trends Shaping the US and the World in 2019’, Pew Research Center, FactTank, April 2019. 3 ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle’, World Bank, October 2018.



Notes to pp. 34–64

4 Migrant Acceptance Index: based on poll conducted by Gallup in 2016 and 2017. 5 Wise men report, ‘Project Europe 2030: Challenges and Opportunities’, a report to the European Council on chief problems facing Europe 2010–30, May 2010. 6 International Data Base of the U.S. Census Bureau, 2010. 7 Alexander Betts and Paul Collier, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (London: Penguin Books, 2017). 8 David Miliband, Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time, (London: TED Books, 2017). 9 Roderick Parkes and EU Institute for Security Studies, ‘People on the Move: The New Global (Dis)order’, Chaillot Paper no. 138, June 2016. 10 ‘The Refugee Surge in Europe’, IMF Staff Discussion Note, January 2016.

Chapter 3 1 ‘Immigration: Politics Risks De-railing Economic Growth’, Oxford Martin School-Citigroup, September 2018. 2 ‘Is Migration Good for the Economy?’, OECD Migration Policy Debates, May 2014; ‘The Fiscal and Economic Impact of Migration’, OECD Policy Brief, May 2014; and ‘International Migration Outlook 2018’, OECD, 2018. 3 ‘Europe’s New Refugees: A Road Map for Better Integration Outcomes’, McKinsey Global Institute, December 2016. 4 ‘Economic and Fiscal Outlook’, Office for Budget Responsibility, UK, March 2016. 5 ‘Emigration and Its Economic Impact on Eastern Europe’, IMF Staff Discussion Note, July 2016. 6 Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, The 100-year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity (London: Bloomsbury, 2017). 7 ‘Pensions at a Glance, 2017: OECD and G20 Indicators’, OECD, 2017. 8 ‘Measuring Working Life’, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, September 2018; and ‘Lower Pension, Shorter Life’, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, April 2019. 9 Jonathan Portes, What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Immigration? (London: Sage Publications, 2019).

Notes to pp. 73–105


Chapter 4 1 Ernesto Casteñada, A Place to Call Home: Immigrant Exclusion and Urban Belonging in New York, Barcelona, and Paris (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 2018). 2 DIW Economic Bulletin, 2017. 3 ‘Europe’s New Refugees: A Road Map for Better Integration Outcomes’, McKinsey Global Institute, December 2016. 4 Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Meghan Benton, ‘From Fragmentation to Integration: Towards a “Whole-of-Society” Approach to Receiving and Settling Newcomers in Europe’, Migration Policy Institute, November 2016. 5 ‘Muslim Population Growth in Europe’, Pew Research Center, November 2017. 6 Paul Walton, ‘Forget the Media’s Hate. The True Story Is One of Cultural Convergence’, Europe’s World, November 2017. 7 ‘The Refugee Surge in Europe’, IMF Staff Discussion Note, January 2016.

Chapter 5 1 Jay Elwes, ‘Interview: Richard Dearlove – I Spy Nationalism’, Prospect, April 2017. 2 Antonio Guterres, ‘Millions Uprooted: Saving Refugees and the Displaced’, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2008. 3 Michael A. Clemens and Hannah M. Postel, ‘Can Development Assistance Deter Emigration?’, Center for Global Development Brief, February 2018. 4 Nourhan Abdel Aziz, ‘Managing Migration in the Eastern Mediterranean: Challenges and Opportunities’, in IEMed. Mediterranean Yearbook, 2016. 5 ‘Social Expenditure Update, 2016: Social spending stays at historically high levels in many countries’, OECD, 2016. 6 Iain Begg, Fabian Mushövel and Robin Niblett, ‘The Welfare State in Europe: Visions for Reform’, Chatham House, September 2015. 7 OECD, ‘Who Bears the Cost of Integrating Refugees?’, Migration Policy Debates, January 2017. 8 ‘Global Pension Timebomb: Funding Gap Set to Dwarf World GDP’, World Economic Forum, May 2017.


Notes to pp. 111–143

Chapter 6 1 ‘A Tool to Implement the Global Compact for Migration: Ten Key Steps for Building Global Skill Partnerships’, Center for Global Development Brief, December 2018. 2 Werner Hoyer at the International Centre for Migration Policy Development’s Vienna Migration Conference, October 23–24, 2017. 3 ‘Making Power Affordable for Africa and Viable for Its Utilities’, World Bank Group’s Open Knowledge Repository, October 2016. 4 ‘Chinese Investment in Africa’, SAIS and China-Africa Research Initiative, 2019. 5 Wolfram Schlenker and Anouch Missirian, ‘Asylum Applications Respond to Temperature Fluctuations’, Science 358, no. 6370, December 2017. 6 ‘Does Foreign Aid Always Help the Poor?’, World Economic Forum, October 2015. 7 ‘Enhancing Capacity for Youth Employment in Africa – Some Emerging Lessons’, AfDB Africa Capacity Development, no. 2, December 2011. 8 ‘Facing the Growing Unemployment Challenges in Africa’, International Labour Organization, January 2016.

Chapter 7 1 ‘Migrant Smuggling in EU’, Europol Report, June 2016. 2 Richard Staring, ‘Global Mobility and Migration Control: Recent Developments in the EU and their Consequences’, Netherlands Institute in Turkey, November 2016. 3 ‘From Illegal Markets to Legitimate Businesses’, Final Report of the Organized Crime Portfolio, Trento, 2015. 4 ‘Europeans Fear Wave of Refugees Will Mean More Terrorism, Fewer Jobs’, Pew Research Center, June 2016. 5 Gilles Kepel, Terreur dans l’Hexagone: Genèse du Djihad Français (Paris: Gallimard, 2015). 6 Robert Leiken, ‘Europe’s Angry Muslims’, Foreign Affairs, August/ September 2005.

Notes to pp. 143–169


7 ‘Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis’, Cato Institute, September 2016. 8 Anthony Cordesman, ‘Trends in European Terrorism: 1970–2016’, Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 2017.

Chapter 8 1 ‘Migration and the EU: Challenges, Opportunities, the Role of the EIB’, European Investment Bank, March 2016. 2 ‘The Refugee Surge in Europe’, IMF Staff Discussion Note, January 2016. 3 ‘Global Productivity Growth Stuck in the Slow Lane’, Conference Board Productivity Brief, 2015. 4 Yves Morieux, ‘Technology Is Improving, Productivity Isn’t. Why?’, Brunswick Review, no. 13, 2017. 5 Diane Coyle, ‘The Budget Downgrade: Productivity Crunch’, Prospect, December 2017. 6 ‘Independent Work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy’, McKinsey Global Institute, October 2016. 7 OECD, ‘Is Migration Good for the Economy?’, Migration Policy Debates, May 2014. 8 Stephen Nickell and Jumana Saleheen, ‘The Impact of EU and Non-EU Immigration on British Wages’, IZA Journal of Development and Migration, December 2017. 9 Bill Gates interview with Quartz magazine, February 2017. 10 David Autor and Anna Salomons, ‘Is Automation Labor-Displacing? Productivity Growth, Employment and the Labor Share’, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, August 2018.

Chapter 9 1 See Section 3.3. of the report ‘Exploring the Current Migration/Integration “Crisis”. What Bottom-up Solutions?’ by Tiziana Caponio and Teresa M. Cappiali, Vision Europe Summit, November 2016, citing German Marshal Fund’s TTI surveys, 2013–14.


Notes to pp. 171–188

2 ‘Improving the Responses to the Migration and Refugee Crisis in Europe’, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, November 2016. 3 ‘Golden Aging: Prospects for Healthy, Active, and Prosperous Aging in Europe and Central Asia’, World Bank Group’s Open Knowledge Repository, June 2015. 4 Fabrizio Tassinari, ‘The Renationalisation of European Politics: Evidence from the Refugee Crisis’, in IEMed. Mediterranean Yearbook, 2016. 5 ‘Improving Asylum Procedures: Comparative Analysis and Recommendations for Law and Practice’, UNHCR, March 2010. 6 ‘Approaches to the Labour Market Integration of Refugees and Asylumseekers’, Eurofound Research Report, December 2016. 7 ‘Reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and of the Dublin System in Particular’, remarks by Simon Mordue at Leuven University, 6 December, 2017. 8 ‘The Economic Costs of Non-Schengen: What the Numbers Tell Us’, Jacques Delors Institute – Berlin and Bertelsmann Stiftung, April 2016. 9 ‘30 Years of Schengen – Internal Blessing, External Curse?’, Kiel Policy Brief 88, June 2015. 10 Massimo Bordignon and Simone Moriconi, ‘The Case for a Common European Refugee Policy’, Bruegel Policy Contribution, no. 8, March 2017. 11 Maria Vincenza Desiderio, ‘Blue Card Redux: European Commission Plan to Recast Work Permits for Highly Skilled Holds Question Marks’, Migration Policy Institute Commentaries, June 2016. 12 ‘A Proposal for a European Agency for Resettlement and Migration Management (EARMM): Observations and Suggestions for EU Policy Makers’, Centre of European and International Policy Action, May 2015. 13 Migration Data Portal. European Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography, 2018–19. 14 ‘African Migration to the EU: Irregular Migration in Context’, IOM GMDAC Briefing Series: Towards Safer Migration on the Central Mediterranean Route, June 2019. 15 ‘Europe’s New Refugees: A Road Map for Better Integration Outcomes’, McKinsey Global Institute, December 2016. 16 Centre for European Reform, ‘The Commission’s “New Migration Pact”: Handle With Care’, Insight, 26 October 2020; and Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, ‘The New EU Migration and Asylum Package: Breakthrough or Admission of Defeat?’, SWP Comment, no. 46, October 2020.

Notes to pp. 196–211


Chapter 10 1 Peter Bosch, ‘Towards a Pro-active European Labour Migration Policy: Concrete Measures for a Comprehensive Package’, Migration Policy Centre (European University Institute), March 2015. 2 Zsolt Darvas, ‘Beyond Border Control, Migrant Integration Policies Must Be Revived’, Bruegel, February 2018. 3 ‘Common Procedure for Asylum’, EU Legislation in Progress, European Parliament Briefing, January 2017; and ‘MEPs Back New EU Travel Document To Ease Return of Irregular Non-EU Residents’, European Parliament Press Release, 30 May 2016. 4 Peter Bosch, ‘Towards a Pro-active European Labour Migration Policy: Concrete Measures for a Comprehensive Package’, Migration Policy Centre (European University Institute), March 2015. 5 ‘Europe’s New Refugees: A Road Map for Better Integration Outcomes’, McKinsey Global Institute, December 2016. 6 Martin Hofmann, ‘Migration Demands and Domestic Policy Constraints – Challenges for European Migration Management’, Diplomatic Academy, Vienna, 2019. 7 ‘There Is a Trade-off Between Citizenship and Migration’, Financial Times, 20 April 2016. 8 GPS: Global Perspectives and Solutions, 2018. 9 Housing Europe Observatory, 2014–17.


Further Reading Betts, Alexander and Collier, Paul, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System. London: Penguin Books, 2017. Bordignon, Massimo and Moriconi, Simone, ‘The Case for a Common European Refugee Policy’, Bruegel Policy Contribution, no. 8, March 2017. Bosch, Peter, ‘Towards a Pro-active European Labour Migration Policy’, Migration Policy Centre (European University Institute), March 2015. Boussemart, Jean-Michel and Godet, Michel, ‘Europe 2050: Suicide Démographique’, in The Schuman Report on Europe, the State of the Union 2017, Fondation Robert Schuman, March 2017. Gratton, Lynda and Scott, Andrew, The 100-year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Kepel, Gilles, Terreur dans l’Hexagone: Gènese du Djihad Français. Paris: Gallimard, 2015. McKinsey Global Institute, ‘Europe’s New Refugees: A Road Map for Better Integration Outcomes’, Migration Policy Debates, January 2017. Miliband, David, Rescue: Refugees and the Political Crisis of Our Time. London: TED Books, 2017. Nickell, Stephen and Saleheen, Jumana, ‘The Impact of EU and Non-EU Immigration on British Wages,’ IZA Journal of Development and Migration, December 2017. OECD, ‘Is Migration Good for the Economy?’, Migration Policy Debates, May 2014. OECD, ‘Who Bears the Costs of Integrating Refugees?’, Migration Policy Debates, January 2017. Oxford Martin School and Citigroup, ‘Immigration: Politics Risks De-railing Economic Growth’, September 2018. Parkes, Roderick and EU Institute for Security Studies, ‘People on the Move: The New Global (Dis)order’, Chaillot Paper no. 138, June 2016. Portes, Jonathan, What Do We Know and What Should We Do About Immigration? London: Sage Publications, 2019.



Index Aarhus – limit on migrants to a fifth of school classes 85 Abdel Aziz, Nourhan 96 Abidjan EU–African Union 2017 summit 122–3 Achilli, Luigi 108 Afghanistan 30, 32, 37–8, 40, 103, 110 Africa ‘Africa Rising’ 126 agriculture 127–9 birthrates 110–11 Covid-related job losses 125 development aid 123–4 economic growth prospects 125 economic growth rates 113 education 112, 118–19, 126 infrastructure needs 115–16 manufacturing in decline 126 population explosion 34, 93, 110–11, 123 projected unemployment 115 refugees and IDPs in Africa 114 sub-Saharan Africa 111–12, 115, 207 uncontrolled migration 110 urbanization 113–14 African Development Bank 125 Africa Progress Panel 116 Afrobarometer 121 ageing – of Europe 3, 18–19, 36, 51, 56, 159, 193, 207 AI (Artificial Intelligence) 15, 155–6, 159, 162, 192 Akoka, Karen 37 Alcoutim – Portuguese ‘cash for babies’ scheme 200 Algeria 133 al-Qaeda 139 Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) 135

Ankara’s EU deal limiting refugee flows 94, 98, 180–1, 197 ‘Ankara-style’ deal for Africa 46, 94 Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation 77 Annan, Kofi 106 anti-immigration political parties 135, 140–1 Apple 155 Arab population growth 92–3 Arab Spring 92 Arab youth unemployment 92 Arditis, Solon 38 Asselborn, Jean 97 ‘assimilation’ of migrants 72–3 Astra-Zeneca 81 asylum applications 58, 137 Common European Asylum System 177 procedures 172 national differences 172–3 asylum-seekers’ chances of acceptance 82–3, 173, 177, 195–6 work permits 10, 82 attitudes to immigration 169 Austria 49, 83–4 Avramopoulos, Dimitris 79–80, 95, 182–3 Ayittey, George 124–5 Bach, Stefan 74–5 Balkan asylum-seekers 170 Baltic states 60–1 Bataclan terrorist attack 6, 139 Bayern Munich 87 Begg, Iain 102 Belgium 104, 133 benefit payments to migrants 7–8




Bensimon, Cyril 111 Betts, Alexander 37 Beveridge Report 191–2 birthrates Africa 34, 93, 110–11, 123 Arab countries 92–3 Europe 3, 28, 32, 60, 76, 200 Bismarck, Otto von 62 Blue Card system of EU work visas 44–5, 158, 183–4 BMW 87 Bonin, Holger 8 Bordignon, Massimo 177 Bosch, Peter 204–5 Boston Consulting Group 155, 160 Brexit 54, 58–9, 133, 141, 147, 176 Brin, Sergey 133 Bruegel – report on common EU refugee policy 177 Bratislava Roadmap towards an EU migration policy 184 Bridge International Academies 118–19 Bulgaria 59–61 burden of immigration on taxpayers 8, 47, 103–4, 152 Burkini 79 Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation 170–1 Canada 72 Caritas 198 Castañeda, Ernesto 73 Cato Institute 143 Center for Global Development, Washington DC 95, 111 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) 145 Centre for European and International Policy Action 185 Ceuta and Melilla 99 Charlie Hebdo 139 China 39, 50, 121–2 Citigroup 9, 49–50, 210

Chatham House (RIIS), London 75, 102 Chinese investments in Africa 121–2 Clemens, Michael 95, 111 climate change 123 Cohen-Tannoudji, Claude 133 Collier, Paul 37, 124 Common European Asylum System 174 Conference Board 160 Construction Robotics 153 control centres and controlled camps (disembarkation platforms) 96–7, 179–82, 203 Coolsaet, Rik 144 Cordesman, Anthony 145 cost-Benefits of immigration 2, 8–10, 17–18, 51, 74–5 Coyle, Diane 161 Czech Republic 184 Daesh 70 Danish Institute for International Studies 172 Danish People’s Party 141 Danish study of migrants’ labour market effects 166 Dearlove, Richard 91 deaths by drowning in Mediterranean 37, 97 Deaton, Angus 124 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 30, 122 demographic changes – Europe’s ageing and shrinkage 3–4, 55–8 Denmark 82, 85, 201, 211 Dennison, Susi 91 Dependency ratios 4, 56 Deportations 21, 58, 98, 137 Deutsche Bank 18, 51, 86 Deutsche Post 86 Deutsche Telekom 86 digital ‘winners and losers’ 153–5, 161–3

Index disembarkation platforms 179–82 DIW Institute for Economic Research, Berlin 74 Dublin Regulation 46, 132, 173–4, 188 economic contribution of migrants 2, 9–10 economic dynamics of infrastructural investment for migrants 19 education in Africa 118–19, 126 of immigrants 163–4 Egmont Institute 144 Egypt 93–4, 96, 132 Eilfort, Michael 104 El Salvador 30 Emergency Trust Fund for Africa 107 Esser, Hartmut 73 Ethiopia 113 Ethman, Mohammed (Jakob) 131–2 ethnic changes in Europe 13, 76 Eurobarometer 5 Eurofound 172 European Agency for the Management of Operational Co-operation at the External Borders 2005 177–8 see Frontex European Agency for Resettlement and Migration Management (proposed) 185 European Agenda on Migration (proposed) 185 European Authority for Immigration (proposed) 171 European Border and Coastguard Agency (see also Frontex) 95, 178 European Commission failed plan for relocation of migrants and refugees 174


Knowledge Centre on Migration and Democracy 186 ‘New Migration Pact’ 188–9 European Council on Foreign Relations 91 European Court of Justice 80 European Development Fund 126–7 European Emergency Trust Fund for Africa 107 European Employment Policy Observatory 173 European External Action Service 117, 213 European External Investment Fund 185 European Institute for Security Studies 39 European Investment Bank 114–15, 158 European Migrant Smuggling Centre 96 European Neighbourhood Policy 93, 99 European Network Against Racism 147 European Stability Mechanism 55 European Strategic Communications Network 145 European Union Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (2014–20) 107, 206 Blue Card system 44, 158, 183–4 Budget (Multi-Annual Financial Framework) 123 Common Agricultural Policy 129 disembarkation centres 96–7, 179–82, 203 efforts to create common policies 66 EU–Africa summits 107, 177 Institute for Security Studies 39 Labour Information Points 43 migration policy initiatives 107–8 Organized Crime Portfolio 138



European University Institute (Migration Policy Centre) 108, 196, 205 Europe’s active workforce 4 economic decline 18, 33 failure to forge common migration policies 128–9 history of emigration 25, 27 labour shortages 5, 158, 205 migrant population 22, 40 pensioners 4, 17, 61–4, 101, 104–6, 210 population density 11 population shifts 3–4 youth unemployment 41–2 Europe’s World 55 Europol 6, 136 Eurostat 41 Fertility – Europe’s low birth rates 3, 41–3, 51, 60, 199 Financial Times 57, 162, 181 Finland 88–9 fiscal costs of 2015–16 ‘migrant crisis’ 8, 47, 103–4, 152 Fourth Industrial Revolution 156, 192 Folkerts-Landau, David 51 Fondation Robert Schuman – report on Europe’s “demographic suicide” 27 Foreign Affairs 143 Foxconn 155 Fratzscher, Marcel 51, 157 FP Ö (Freedom Party of Austria) 140 France birth rate 60, 199 migrants’ educational levels 78 skills shortages 158 study of Schengen’s value 175 terrorist attacks 6, 139 Freeland, Chrystia 72 Friedman, Milton 151 Friends of Europe 77, 120

Front National (now Rassemblement) 140 Frontex 177–8, 203–4 see also European Border and Coastguard Agency Future of Learning Fund 119 Galbraith, J.K. 61 Gallup Poll 27 per cent of those polled in Latin America want to emigrate 30 750m worldwide ‘would migrate if they could’ 21 Europeans lead in anti-migrant sentiments 34 Gates, Bill – on taxation of robots 167 Geim, Andre 133 Geneva Convention 21, 37, 195 Germany 82–7, 101, 131, 134–5 cost of 2015 ‘surge’ 17–18, 103 demographic change 41 housing costs 211 ‘€1 jobs’ for refugees 82 labour force shrinkage 51, 86 lifts restrictions on seasonal far workers 59 longer-term economic boost of 2015–16 ‘crisis’ 51, 74 ‘rapid assessment’ of migrants scheme 83 skills shortages 86, 157 Ghana 119–24 ‘gig’ economy 164–5 GIZ Germany’s international development agency 51 global economy 38 Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (IOM’s GMDAC) 186–7 global population growth 38–9 global warming 123 Gnikou, Afate 125 Gonzalez, Felipe 34

Index Goldin, Ian 49 Google 86, 133 Gordon, Robert 18–19 Gratton, Lynda 62 Greece 42, 51–2, 82, 98–9 Guatemala 30 Gurria, Angel 8 Guterres, Antonio 92 Halla-aho, Jussi 196 Handelsblatt 86 Haroche, Serge 133 hate crimes 135, 147 healthcare costs projections 17, 159 Hofmann, Martin 207 Housing Europe 211 housing shortages 211 Hoyer, Werner 115 Huawei 121 Human Rights Watch 132 Hungary 33, 61, 184 ICMPD (International Centre for Migration Policy Development) 87, 207 IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) 37, 40, 114 ILO (International Labour Office) (UN) 125–6, 150 illegal migration, see irregular migration IMF (International Monetary Fund) asylum-seekers, costs and benefits 18, 37 on cost of emigration to excommunist countries 61 distinction between refugees and migrants 21 financial prospects of younger generations 209 fiscal costs of 2015–16 migration crisis 48 report on refugee ‘surge’ 47–8, 83 warns of asylum-seekers backlog 197


immigrant communities in Europe 12 India 39, 133 integration of migrants 70–9 International Federation of Robotics 156 international migration statistics 40 IOM (International Organization for Migration) (UN) 112, 170, 182, 186–7 Ipsos-MORI 7 Iraq 20, 30, 32, 74, 81, 103, 110 irregular (illegal) migration 40, 97–8, 179, 186–7, 197 ISIS (Islamic State) 6–7, 70, 139, 142 Islam, Shada 79 Italy 14, 59–60 JAES (Joint Africa–EU Strategy) 126 jihadist fears and concerns 5, 133 terrorism 6–7, 70, 139 threats 142 Johns Hopkins University – SAIS 121 Jordan 29 Juncker, Jean-Claude 180–1, 188 Jürgens, Inga 87 Kassou, Mehdi 198 Kenya 119 Kepel, Gilles 142 Kerkove, Gilles de 6, 143–4, 146 Kiel Institute of the World Economy 176 King Baudouin Foundation 198 Kugel, Janina 87 labour shortages European 3–4, 41 France 158 Germany 51, 86, 157 UK 65 Visegrad bloc 16, 56



Latvia 60 Lebanon 29 legal migration 4, 21, 40, 98, 104, 179, 197 Legambiente – migrant jobs in Italy 14 Leggeri, Fabrice 178–9 Legrand, Aurélian 6 Leiken, Robert 142 Le Monde 13 Le Pen, Marine 140 Lesotho 118 Liberia 119 Libya 110, 131 Liebig, Thomas 84 Ljungqvist, Hendrik 81 London School of Economics (LSE) 15 McDonald’s – payroll cuts due to robots 155 McKinsey 4, 43 McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report on asylum procedures 187 report on integration of migrants 53, 74–5 report on jobs at risk from robots 164–5 report on migration’s economic impact 2, 9 ‘too many stakeholders’ in migration policymaking 206 MacPherson, Hugo 144–5 Macron, Emmanuel 111, 140, 180 Madrid institute of Public Goods and Politics (IPP) 102 Maizière, Thomas de 136 Malta 107 Marie-Claire 198 maritime security – Operations Triton, Sophia and Poseidon 107, 187 Marshall Plan for Africa 114 mass migrations in Europe’s history 25

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – impact of robots on wages 167 Mauritania 99 Max Planck Institute 63 May, Theresa 57 Mayer, Stephan 180 Mechelen 69–70 Médecins du Monde 198 Merkel, Angela backlash against refugee surge 52 on cost of migration to Europe 104 ‘more Europe, not less’ 163 told 20m jobs needed yearly in Africa 114 unsustainability of Europe’s social spending 101 Willkommenskultur 140 ‘Wir schaffen das’ 52, 87 Mexico 30 Microsoft 116, 132, 167 migrants barriers to job-seeking 10, 84 contribution to global GDP 2 criminality 135 crisis of 2015–16 31 density of population 11–12 employment protection suggestions 83 European economic contribution 2, 9–10 as future underclass 10, 20 illiteracy of children 10 impact on wage levels 14–15 infrastructure needs 19 ‘irregular’ and illegal migrants 40, 97–8, 179, 186–7 legal migrants 4, 21, 40, 44–5, 98, 104, 179 numbers worldwide 92 proportion of global population 21, 39 proportion paying people smugglers 136

Index remittances 58 restrictions on where to live 80 returned, repatriated or deported 21, 58, 98, 137, 174 seasonal workers 58–9, 94 social welfare contributions and receipts 8 unemployment amongst migrants 83 as well-integrated Europeans 26 Migration Partnership Framework 182 Migration Policy Centre (EUI) 108, 196, 205 Migration Policy Institute Europe 75, 184 M-KOPA and M-PESA 116 Milanovic, Branko 7, 207 Miliband, David 38 militant Islam 142–5 Mimica, Neven 181 Molenbeek 70 Möller, Joachim 52 MONI digital payments system 88–9 MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) 119–20 Moody’s Analytics 106 Mordue, Simon 174–5 Moreno, Luis 102 Moriconi, Simone 177 Morieux, Yves 160 Morocco 78, 99, 129 Moyo, Dambisa 123 multiculturalism 72, 78 Nadella, Satya 133 Narrative Science 155 Netherlands, The 59, 79, 184 Nickell, Stephen 166 Nigeria 45, 119 Nigerian emigrants 45–6 Nixon Center’s Immigration and National Security Program 142 Nixon, Richard 151 Nobel laureates 133


Noroselov, Konstantin 133 Northwestern University, Chicago 155 Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research 74 Nye Borgerlige (New Right party in Denmark) 141 OBR (Office of Budget Responsibility) (UK) 54, 56, 212 O’Connor, Sarah 162 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) calculation of unfunded pensions 210 economic costs and benefits of immigrant labour 53, 166 estimated average fiscal cost of asylum-seekers 103 estimates social welfare costs in Europe 101 joint study with UNHCR on jobs for immigrants 87 pension costs 64, 101 says migrants now doing half of all unskilled jobs 20, 159 urges the raising of retirement age 63 ‘offshore platforms’ for processing migrants 179 Omega Schools, Ghana 119 Organized Crime Portfolio 138 OWLS (Older, Working Less, Still earning) 63 Oxford University joint survey with Bertelsmann Stiftung on UBI 150 Oxford Martin School report on cost of limiting migration 9 Collier-Betts urge economic strategy for Arab refugees 37–8 estimate of jobs prey to automation 153–5

232 ‘negligible’ impact of migrants on wages 166 study with Citi-group on benefits from migrant workers 49–50 Ozoguz, Aydan 88 Paine, Thomas 151 Pakistan 29 Papademetriou, Demetrios 75–6 Parkes, Roderick 39 Pegida anti-Islamist movement 135 Pennanen, Antti 88 Pensions 4, 17, 61–4, 101, 104–5, 210 people smugglers 136 Pew Research Center opinion polls attitudes to migration 139 findings on US immigrants 31 migrant terrorism fears 5 scenarios for growth of Muslim population 13, 76 Philips, Trevor 78 Pichai, Sundar 133 Picketty, Thomas 13 Poland 184 Politico 184 population density (Europe and global) 11 population growth (global) 36, 38–9, 106 population shrinkage if no migration 106 population trends in Europe 60–1 populist political parties 135, 140–1 Portes, Jonathan 64 Portugal 77, 82, 92, 200 Prigogine, Ilya 133 productivity 65, 159–61, 165–6 Quill – robotic journalism software 155 radicalization of younger Islamic immigrants 144–5 Raffelhüschen, Bernd 103

Index Raspail, Jean 109 Rassemblement National (formerly Front National) 6 Real Madrid 88 red tape 10, 47, 84, 194 refugee reception camps 180–1 refugees as distinct from economic migrants 21, 36 right to seek work (national differences in EU) surge of 2015–16 32 within Africa 114 Regling, Klaus 55 repatriation of irregular migrants 98 Rethink Robotics 155 retirement trends in Europe 60–2 robots as solution to labour shortages 16, 19, 32, 152–3, 159, 167 Romania 61 Rostami, Amir 135 Roth, Kenneth 132 Rothstein, Bo 65–6 Roy, Olivier 142, 144 Royal African Society (UK) 117 Ruete, Mathias 204 Russia 133, 200 Saleheen, Jumana 166 Salonen, Jouko 89 SAP – suggests skills register for migrants 84 Salzburg EU immigration policy summit 49 Scania 81 Schengen cost of collapse 175 cost of renewed frontier controls 175 crumbling of 46 economic value 175 opt-outs 175–6 threats to zone 175 Schinas, Margaritis 182 Schlenker, Wolfram 123

Index Schröder, Gerhard 165 Schuman, Fondation Robert 27 Scott, Andrew 62 sea rescues of migrants 107, 187 seasonal workers 58, 153, 158 Siemens 87 Slovenia 140 Slovenia’s SDS party 140 Social Integration Commission (UK) 76 social welfare costs 100–2 Sodertalje 81–2 Somers, Bart 69–70 Spain concerned by new Moroccan route 99 hosts 2017 Madrid conference on migration costs 176 subsidizes Mauritanian antimigrant measures 99 Spiegel, Der 134 Spindelegger, Michael 84 Staring, Richard 136–7 Stiftung Marktwirtschaft 104 sub-Saharan Africa 111–12, 115, 207 Sudan 29, 198 Sutherland, Peter 147 Sweden birth rate 199 difficulties of integrating migrants 67, 81 economic effects of immigration 65–6 educational shortcomings of migrant children 85 refugee relocation policies 80–2 skills requirements 83, 85 Sweden Democrats 141 Swiss-Re report on natural catastrophes 124 Syria 20, 30, 32, 37–8, 40–1, 53, 70, 74, 81, 84, 87, 91, 103, 110, 204 Tampere – 1999 conference on an EU migration policy 170, 208


Tanzania 127 Tassinari, Fabrizio on re-nationalization of refugee policies 172 tax policies 89, 166, 199–200, 209–12 taxing robots 166–7 terrorism 5–6, 141–6 Togo 125 Trump, Donald 29–31, 61, 106 Tunisia 77–8 Turkey 29, 35, 71, 88 UBI (Universal Basic Income) 150–2 Uganda 29, 119 UK 17, 22, 53–4, 55–7, 105, 133 absence of centralized administration of migration 22 ageing 56 immigration targets 56 labour shortages 65 migrants’ economic contribution 17, 54 migration controls 56–7 public debt increases without migration 17, 56 smaller GDP without immigration 9 tops European growth thanks to migrant workforce 53, 55 Ukraine 59 unemployment 5, 41–2, 54 United Nations (UN) calculation of UK’s migration needs 57 global population forecast 39 International Labour Office (ILO) 125–6, 150 International Organization for Migration (IOM) 112, 170, 182, 186–7 UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees) estimates IDPs in Africa at 18m 114

234 joint study with OECD on employers’ hiring practices 87 opposes EU offshore ‘Disembarkation Platforms’ 179–80, 182 report on asylum procedures 172 United States 4, 36, 45, 100, 105–6, 133, 154 benefits of immigration 106 Bureau of Labor Statistics 154 Census Bureau’s 2010 report on EU manpower 36 GDP growth since 2011 resulting from immigration 106 Green Cards 45, 106 population growth 4 University College London 15 Van Gestel, Anouk 198 Van Parijs, Philippe 151 Vilvoorde 70 visas 133, 186, 197, 205 Visegrad countries 16, 133, 156–7, 179, 184 labour shortages 16, 156 population shrinkage 16 rejection of EU ‘burden sharing’ 179 robotization 156–7 Vitorino, Antonio 170 Von Bethlanfalvy, Peter 185 Von der Leyen, Ursula 108, 182, 188, 208 voter trends and turnouts in Europe 193, 209 wages impact of migrant workers on wage levels 15 impact of robotization on wages 167

Index wage stagnation 166 wage subsidies 83 Wainwright, Rob 139 Walton, Paul 77 Weidmann, Jens – says migrants depress German wage levels 166 welfare spending in Europe 102, 159–60 Westcott, Nicholas 117 ‘Wir Zusammen’ German employers seeking migrant labour 86–7 work permits 197 World Bank estimate global remittances 33 ‘Golden Ageing’ study 171 impact on growth of power shortages in Africa 94; says refugee surges of temporary character 13 warns of plummeting remittances from migrants 95 World Economic Forum 105, 111 Xenophobia – Pope Francis’ New Year Message 2018 younger migrants 41–2, 52, 100–1, 112 young Europeans’ financial and social outlook 62, 193, 208–9, 212–13 youthful jobseekers 44, 113 youth unemployment in Africa 113 youth unemployment in Arab countries 92 youth unemployment in Europe 41–2 Zambia 118, 123 Zaventem airport attack 139