Boat refugees from Africa have coasted Italian territorial waters for the last few months. Successful rescue efforts were executed and now, EU-politicians are reluctantly debating responsibility for long term accommodations. How happy should Europe be with these new immigrants?
The EU cannot let everyone in. War victim refugees mingle with people in search of prosperity. EU-countries prefer to choose their economic migrants, not be chosen by them. On the other hand, you cannot keep everyone out, because, after the crimes of the second world war, countries made solemn undertakings never again to abandon innocent people to persecution and conflict.
Last year, 626,000 people applied for asylum to the EU (only a fraction of them came by boat); roughly half of the applicants who were processed were successful. France granted asylum to 15,000; Britain to only 11,000. Despite honorable exceptions, including Germany, with 41,000, and Sweden, with 31,000, most countries wish the problem would go away. But can European countries really afford to send immigrant away??? Population shifts until 2030.
The population within all of Europe passed the 500 million mark in 2010, with over 87 million retirees (aged 65 years and older). The group of people aged 65 years and older within the EU will grow by 36.1% from the current level of 87 million people to 124 million, by 2030.
Increased personal wealth, higher education, and individual freedom in terms of family planning have contributed to fertility rates (amount of children per woman) below the replacement level of 2.1. Hence, Europe’s population has started to decline and relies more and more on immigration with the hope to remain stable population numbers, or maintain slight growth.
The decline of the working age group, defined as the age group between 20 and 64 years, is ongoing until 2030. In the EU, the reduction in labor market participants is forecasted at 12.5 million, a drop from 307 to 295 million (-4.1%). This will reflex in an economic decline of productivity. There will be 12.5 fewer million people to pay for the pensions of the retirees.
So, the EU desperately needs the new immigrants to keep up present levels of productivity and pay for the pensions of its greying society. No matter what populist politicians are telling you, the EU needs every immigrant it can get.
By Jacob Gelt Dekker, opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle.