The development of the migration crisis in Europe doesn’t match in the very least the predictions that were made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She had urged all European countries to receive migrants, paying no heed to the possible consequences of this step.
As the number of refugees now grows, European citizens are becoming increasingly frustrated with the absence of any comprehensive plan that would allow the EU to address the situation. If initially it seemed that migrants would be able to integrate in the European society, it is now clear that Europeans won’t allow them to do this.
Last May, Berlin saw massive rallies against the policies carried out by the German Chancellor. People were demanding Angela Merkel to step down, while urging the government to restore tight control over European borders. Spiegel wrote that the Christian Social Union (CSU) is planning to launch its own campaign during the elections to the Bundestag in 2017, going separately from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), if the parties fail to overcome the fundamental differences they have on the migration policy.
In late April, it was reported that the political rating of the Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) fell to 33% – the lowest result they’ve had since 2011.
To somehow reverse this situation, prominent economists and commentators are trying to persuade the general public that refugees – are not that bad after all, since “they can bring major benefits to European economies.” This conclusion, in particular, was voiced by the researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE). According to the LSE’s calculations, due to additional costs the total debt of EU countries would grow to 68.8 billion euros in the period from 2015 to 2020. At the same time, they claim, economic output may increase, providing an additional 126.6 billion euros. London’s economists are convinced that every euro invested in refugees will provide the EU with almost two euros of profit.
Last year, the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) has also published a study on the economic usefulness of refugees. DIW experts have also came to the conclusion that government spending on refugees would be beneficial. In total, they have developed three scenarios, and even in the most pessimistic, the benefits were higher than the initial costs.
However, it is estimated almost without exception that an important condition for the refugees to bring the return of investments is “their successful integration into society and the labor market.” Only in this case, the migrants “will lead to the emergence of new enterprises and jobs, which will increase productivity and wages.” But EU countries are reluctant to integrate the refugees into their society.
In a bid to change this situation, European Union officials have even tried to take a somewhat hard-line posture. The Bloomberg would note:
Under the European Commission’s latest proposal, EU countries would have to accept their quota of refugees or pay a 250,000 euro fine per refugee if they do not.
But for sure there’s a number of less radical ideas. For instance, one of them suggests to expand and reconfigure the EU’s refugee fund, creating a kind of voucher system. Instead of being fined for failing to accept refugees, countries would get money for hosting them It would be expensive – according to one estimate, amounting to some 35 billion euros per year, out of an annual EU budget of about 143 billion euros. The fund would reduce governments’ initial economic costs of accepting refugees. But for some governments, and it’s clear at this stage, no amount of money would be enough to accept more refugees.
While there’s no acceptable way of addressing the problem of illegal migration, the criminal situation in a number of European countries is getting worse by the day due to the fact that migrants are getting heavily engaged in illegal activities.
For example, in Germany, a large number of burglaries has been committed by “guest” gangs in recent years. According to the German Ministry of Interior, last year a total of 167,000 burglaries and cases of attempted burglary were committed in Germany.
Yet another concern of European politicians is the growth in the number of illegal migrants dying on the way to Europe. The first five months of this year have been particularly deadly for migrants in comparison to the same period in 2015 and 2014, said a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) William Spindler. He notes that a total of 2,510 people perished during their trip to Europe in 2016, in comparison to 1,855 who perished in the same period in 2015 and 57 dead in the first five months of 2014.
So, while politicians argue, the migration crisis continues to gain momentum and promises to leave a very unpleasant repercussions to linger on across the EU.
However, the actions of European leaders do not show that they are concerned with the problems at hand, and instead, they seem to only be concerned with the way they can please Washington, for instance, through the deployment of US missile defense elements in Poland and Romania, reaching an agreement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), or allowing more NATO troops into Eastern Europe, while none of these steps are supported by ordinary Europeans. This situation cannot last for long as is reflected by the ever growing number of protests in major European countries.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”