European perception of immigrants

The European Parliament elections are day by day closer and one of the topics that will dominate campaigning for the elections is the issue regarding “immigration”. Even if the EU Chief of the Migration Commission is saying that the migration crisis is coming to its end and It is confirmed by numbers of 2018 asylum application compared with the one of 2015 and 2016. In that specific period there were counted more than 1 million applications. This year 634.700, 10% less than in 2017.

Even though this reduction, 40% of the Europeans consider immigration to be one of the most important issues. Far-right, ultra-nationalists and demagogues are riding the wave of misperception regarding the topic to win more votes in the local election throughout fevered rhetoric, misinformation, untruths and fake news. The results are a major political and public division. For example, the lack of political consensus is reflected in the last UN vote for the approval of the “Global Compact for migration”. It is the first, intergovernmental negotiated agreement, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. Three EU members voted against (Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland) and other five EU members abstained (Austria, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia and Romania), showing how much divided is the European Union in this crucial moment of history.

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Populist parties and their leaders have already started a Manifesto to build up political support and demonise immigration to earn votes. Leaders as Orbán and Salvini have also started a verbal war with the President of France Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for their policies towards immigrants. In February Orbán launched a new campaign in Hungary called “You too have the right to know what Brussels is planning”, where he is directly blaming the Brussels bureaucrats to encourage immigration with new measures. He has also launched a Manifesto with his “fellow” Salvini in order to substitute the Paris-Berlin axis with the Rome-Warsaw one. The main aim of the far-right parties leader is to see a European Parliament dominated by anti-immigration forces. This scenario will surely redraw the continent’s political map. Meanwhile, the rejection of multilateralism and the absence of a common political will damages the interest of Europe around the world and betrays the milestone on which EU’s founding fathers were relying at the end of the WWII.

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The questions are: are the immigrations really that bad for the economy and the structure of our country or they are used as a scapegoat of the economic crises? Can they bring some advantages economically talking? Some economists are supposing that immigrants can bring positive or neutral impact on economy. The CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) said that the immigrants can improve the national GDP. OECD (the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development) was underling, in the last report on immigrants, that they can be the solution for ageing and shortage of European workforce. This is a big problem in Europe as it was in USA at the end of the WWII. To solve the shortage of workers in the primary sector, USA and Mexico had an agreement where Mexico would have exported more than 4 million Mexicans agricultural workers to work in the United States. We are in the similar situation.

The main problem is the misperception of this topic and that politics is not anymore considered in its long-term effect, in the modern society we want everything immediately. This could be the problem of immigration because people are thinking only about the initial cost of the arrival. Leaders should remember that to change the present we need to glance the far future.

Oscar Raimondi


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