NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 19, 2006

More than 64 million people from poorer countries have found a new home in the European Union. Many EU politicians have said enough is enough and are ready to do whatever is necessary to keep any more immigrants crossing the borders into Europe.

Many continue to risk their lives to get into the EU as the borders of "Fortress Europe" become increasingly difficult to scale.

Some experts are proposing a "selective opening" approach in which highly qualified immigrants would be let in.

Human rights activists and development agencies say this cannot solve one of the biggest problems in the EU -- namely that the population of Europe is rapidly ageing.

  • By 2015, a third of the people in Europe will be older than 50. Migration experts warn about future competition within the EU for immigrant workers if policies are not changed now.
  • Nevertheless, many Europeans are afraid that immigrants will take work away from them.

These fears are valid and should be taken seriously, says Ulla Mikota of the federation for third world aid policy of German non-governmental organizations.

"We must prevent the 'brain drain' from these developing nations," says Günter Bonnet of Germany's Economic Development Ministry. "If we don't stop the elite from leaving these countries, they will become a wasteland and will not be able to save themselves."

However, the EU should be realistic, says Mikota. "The threat is not about workplaces because many illegal immigrants are unable to get work," she says. "There are many more illegal immigrants living on benefits than on earnings from work."

Source: Sarah Faupel, "EU Must Change Its Immigration Policy, Experts Warn," Deutsche Welle, April 18, 2006.

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