Europe was unprepared for the influx of immigrants
European politicians turned, during four years, a blind eye to the war in Syria. When finally the accumulated amount of Syrian refugees and migrants from other countries started to flow into Europe last year like ketchup splashing out of a ketchup bottle, this seemed to come like a total surprise. Since so few preparations, political as well as practical, had been made, this has lead to a major European crisis, at least as serious as the economic crisis a few years ago. Borders are closed, migrants trapped, and there is deficient control of who the migrants are or their right to stay. The whole system of migration is based upon smugglers gaining big money on dangerous sea voyages in deficient vessels, as well as on whims of neighbour states, which use the situation for their own interests. Still, nobody are talking about what can be expected in the years ahead and the situation continues to be handled like an acute, isolated event.
Migration pressure will most likely remain high or increase
There are several reasons to believe that migratory pressure on Europe will remain at or even increase from last year’s level. In addition to the estimated number of 60 million people already displaced in the World, there is a rapid population growth in Europe’s neighbouring regions, in countries that are already on the verge of disintegration. To this must be added a growing tensions between major countries in the Middle East. Climate change may have a negative influence and not least, the growing populations constitute an increasing pressure on finite resources such as water and arable land.
When I worked in Egypt in 1992, there were approximately 65 million people. In 2015 there were 89 millions and according to forecasts from www.prb.org they will increase to 118 millions by 2030 and 162 millions by 2050. The forecast for Nigeria is worse – from 182 millions 2015 to 262 millions by 2030 and 397 million people in 2050. What makes the situation in Nigeria especially problematic is that population growth has been historically difficult to influence. The total fertility rate for muslim women in Nigeria remained constant at 6.5 between 1990 and 2013, while it dropped slightly from 5.6 to 4.5 for non-muslims.
Population pressure in Egypt, Nigeria and other countries in the region will most likely, in itself, lead to increased migration. If population pressure also results in increased troubles or even chaos in the country, there will be migration flows many times larger than today. PRB estimates that the total population of West Asia, North Africa and West Africa will increase by 735 million people between 2015 and 2050! In addition, there will be a migration pressure from countries further afield. Thus, the population in Pakistan is estimated to increase by 145 million people during this period. One need not be overly pessimistic to get the creeps when thinking about the consequences of the immense increases in population in all these unstable countries. One of Europe’s major tasks must therefore be to try minimizing population growth and to stabilize vulnerable countries through democratization programs.
How many migrants can we expect to Europe?
A population increase of 735 millions in 35 years in the surrounding region mentioned above gives an average increase of 20 million people per year. If only 10% of those leave to seek refuge in Europe, we will have a steady stream of 2 million migrants per year trying to get to Europe on the risky roads available. I fear the figure will be much higher.
If millions want to come, who should we let stay?
The present migration system is based upon people crossing borders to get into Europe. Thus only people with economic means come in question. As mentioned above this system favours smugglers, subjects people to danger and death, exposes Europe to blackmail from e.g. Turkey and Russia and, not least, causes stress between European countries. The people who are allowed to stay are selected out of this flow. The number of quota refugees is insignificant. I strongly question this system. In addition to the disadvantages mentioned above, the system gives no guarantee that the persons who are allowed to stay in Europe are the ones who have the biggest need of protection, and what we should not forget, have the best possibilities to get integrated into the European communities. In addition it is disadvantageous to women, for whom the roads are more dangerous and also more seldom get the necessary economic support. So, if many more people want to come than in the end are allowed to stay, why should just the persons crossing European borders be selected? And should we really admit persons whose values are counter to our own?
There are quite extensive studies showing that a community’s prosperity depends on people’s values and vice versa (www.worldvaluessurvey.org). Every person is an individual and shall of course be treated like one, but we must not ignore that people are influenced by the values of their homelands, values, which in many cases, have brought those countries into misery. New habits and foods enrich the culture, but we must be restrictive in allowing bad values to gain strength in Europe. This will also certainly create a counter reaction by reactionary groups and, altogether, constitute a risk to our free, liberal societies.
A new migration policy for Europe based on quotas
Today we have the situation that only refugees who have entered a European country get the chance to stay, even though there may be many others who have better needs for protection and also better capabilities to grow into our communities. This is unfair and lead to a multitude of problems. The only way to cope with these problems is to limit immigration to quota refugees, refugees who are in need of protection and who have shown that they are able to adapt to the conditions in our countries. And here I donâ€™t mean a small group, but in the order of Â½-1% of the European population per year, thus in the range of 2-5 million migrants. There may be different opinions on the percentage, but personally I find Â½ % a safe figure to guarantee a good integration of newcomers, while numbers higher than 1 % may cause problems.
So how should this be done? The idea is that the EU establishes two main migration reception centres, one in the Near East and one in North Africa, to function like once Ellis Island functioned during the migration to the United States. This will necessitate agreements, including economic compensation, with the respective state, investments in reception buildings, housing facilities, airport, and manning, and there must be stationed police and military personnel for keeping order and guaranteeing safe environments, all costing of course a lot of money. Migrants who happen to enter Europe are immediately sent to one of these reception centres to be registered and included in the selection process, together with migrants coming directly there. In this way there will be no advantage in trying to get to Europe through smugglers and fragile boats so that activity will cease, also eliminating the possibility for countries such as Turkey and Russia to use migrations streams for their own purposes. Selection of quota refugees can also take place in refugee camps. The reason to place one main base on each continent is that it makes it easier for migrants, without refugee causes, to return to their home countries.
After registration and approval, the selected people can, under orderly forms, be sent directly to their final destination, to their new homes, in a European country. As it seems today, all EU countries will not agree to become part of an agreement to receive quota refugees, but it must be clear that no country refusing should gain on that, rather it should cost! So, this system will most likely start with a coalition of willing countries, but, if successful, hopefully more countries will join.
Only through a well thought-out policy, Europe will get through the crisis we are already into. This is my contribution on how it can be solved.