The immigration debate in Europe has been popular myths. The aliens steal jobs from natives, collapse of social services, drain resources from public coffers… The European Commission disputes eight clichés like these in a work on the impact that immigrants have on the continent. The study, presented today in Brussels, provides numbers to counter the discourse that strengthens extremists and eurófobas forces in a number of EU countries.
The anti-immigration speech concerned the European institutions. “It’s very important to know the facts. Blame everything on immigrants leads to adopt restrictive measures that create undesirable political effects and also affect our economies,” warned the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, one of the most critical institutional voices that the turn taken by the Member States migration issues.
“Some time ago, immigration was a debate between supporters and opponents. Today there are only contrary, most politicians perceived as a problem,” lamented Philippe Fargues, director of the Migration Policy Centre, the institute that has done the work and receiving EU funding. The paper begins by denying one of the most widespread claims on the continent: that immigration is excessive. To do this, compare the current weight of the European population in the world with nearly 70 years ago at the end of World War II the continent contributed 14.5% of the world population, while today accounts for half the 7%. Malmström argued that, beyond reforming welfare systems immigrants needed to sustain them.
The report also denies that those who come from abroad to stay with the work of citizens. In the boom years, mainly foreigners assumed for missing work labor. Ever since the crisis has started remains a need for low-skilled workers, although in this and other aspects of research lacks recent data. In addition, countries with a higher proportion of foreigners usually have moderate rates of unemployment.
A good example is Germany, with almost 10% of foreign population and only 5 % unemployment. The reason is that job seekers often migrate to places where they think they can find it more easily, the study authors argue, but Spain retained rates somewhat higher than the German with 26 % unemployment.
Against the prejudice that foreigners consume too many social resources, the data show that in almost all states (except seven including Spain) the net contribution made by this group higher than those born in the country.