Migration is part of our collective history, but Europe’s political leaders are still failing completely to address widespread public concern over the flood of migrants now storming Europe’s borders. The consequences of these pressures will have profound impacts.
Unable to reach rational solutions beyond discussing how many each member state should be obliged to take, bribing African countries to take back their own citizens who don’t qualify as refugees and now paying Turkey to take back illegals bound for Greece, while taking a similar quota of Syrians from Turkey, are inadequate responses. Our leaders are moving into systemic chaos, where the Human Rights Act, has spawned a people-trafficking industry that is endangering our security and running rings around governments at taxpayers’ expense. It is not fit for purpose and needs reform. Without leaving the EU, the UK could suspend and redraw the act with our European partners, who all have much to gain from a more sensible approach.
In Britain, the Government, under Labour, first lost control of immigration and then tried to spin the idea that a large influx of people is vital to our interests. Despite attempts at reforms, the system is still failing. Legal migration in to the UK has hit record levels - up 40 per cent on 2014, according to the Office for National Statistics. Nearly 100,000 illegals were detected trying to enter the UK in 2015, while the EU is receiving thousands of illegal migrants a day – triple the rate last year.
The situation has been escalating for years, but after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand moral gesture to take in 800,000 ‘refugees’ a year in response to the photo of a drowned boy on a Turkish beach and then demand other EU states take their share, it has ignited the hopes of millions more to settle in Europe. Now barbed wire borders are being erected in the heart of Europe, destroying the ideal of free movement.
Described as refugees or just ‘migrants’, as though there has merely been some bureaucratic error in their status, the asylum lobby and much of the media are cheerleading the appeal for public sympathy as a tragic human interest story. But this terrorist infiltrated people-smuggling led invasion, facilitated by EU governments, presents a huge challenge from failing states with exploding populations and self-inflicted turf wars.
Generous policies in Sweden and Germany are enabling thousands of non-EU migrants and illegals to settle legally there and then move to other member states as internal EU migrants. Over 1.2 million have claimed asylum in 2015. Our politicians consistently ignore this back door impact.
Sweden has been receiving up to 2000 unaccompanied minors a week in late 2015, nearly a third of its migrant influx, who can then have their families flown in to join them. Most were males giving their age as 16 or 17 but receiving groups say many appear much older. According to Statistics Sweden, 50 per cent of refugees are not in work seven years after arriving in the country. Even after 15 years, 40 per cent are still on welfare without a job – a major drain on the country’s welfare system.
Refugee lobbyists say it is the moral duty of Western countries to absorb these migrants. Do the media and politicians seriously think that Europe can take in the populations of sub-Saharan Africa and beyond? When will the line be drawn? All UK parties are well aware of the mounting pressures on housing, schools and health services, but don’t like to talk about it. Or the 25-50 per cent of young people in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece who don’t have a job. So too, they should be aware of the Parliamentary report in 2008 that the large rise in legal immigration to the UK had virtually no net economic gain for the country. Nor do we need high immigration to counter a temporary rise in ageing populations. Ever more migrants also get old and then need support.
The Government talks about skilled immigrants Britain needs, but skilled immigrants account for only 20% of total non-EU immigrants in Britain and many actually do unskilled work when they get here.
Proposals to cap numbers will barely touch the scale of the true problem - a permanent population swelling so quickly by other immigration pathways, including a generous interpretation of family reunion from outside the EU that is adding to the pressures on our environment and food security.
Australia is often cited by UK politicians as a model immigration system, but its population just hit 24 million– 17 years earlier than expected. With net overseas migration contributing 53 per cent to total population growth, the population is now set to double every 50 years. This in an arid continent with only six per cent of the land able to grow crops.
Europe’s growing immigration crisis
In 1950, the countries that later constituted the EU-27 had a population of 370 million. By 2010 it topped 500 million - equivalent to absorbing the inhabitants of another present-day France and Britain combined. By January 2015 Eurostat figures show the population was 508.2 million - up 1.3 million from the previous year, with the majority of 1.1m a result of net legal immigration into the EU.
Add to this the rapidly growing number of illegals – with over 1.2 million detected in 2015 and many more entering undetected, according to the EU borders agency, Frontex.
Today, only Syria currently has an acute refugee crisis, but to avert mounting chaos and retain the fabric of the EU, we have to stop the lure of a gateway to permanent citizenship to millions. People in Europe might be more reassured if irregular migrants eligible for asylum were offered temporary support and then returned to their countries when the crisis resolved. Many of those who claimed asylum from countries like Somalia and Iraq go back for extended holidays, but the claims for asylum continue. Iraqi Airways now operates four flights a week from the UK to facilitate demand for vacations back home. Yet Iraqis are in the top ten asylum applications to the UK in 2015,
Also in the list are Nigeria – touted as Africa’s fasted growing economy and other democratic countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Albania – now 25 years since it became a European democracy. Eritrea is top of the list, supposedly linked to harsh national service. What is going on? International pressure should sort this out, not expect resettlement.
Part of the problem is that EU countries don’t have repatriation agreements with many countries involved, but this could be remedied quite simply, as just about all the sender countries in Africa and many in Asia are recipients of generous Western aid. We need to use this leverage. Several countries, like Senegal, condone exporting people in the hope they will reach Europe, find work and send back remittances.
Global leaders need to be focused on real solutions and more effective regional aid in all these fragile states as well as engaging more constructively with Russia, Iran and countries in the region to bring about positive outcomes. You can help far more people cost effectively in nearby protected areas than import millions into high-cost West European countries. Sweden is now having to spend its foreign aid budget on trying to deal with new migrant arrivals.
The current level of UK immigration and increasing birth rates will require building the equivalent of a new Manchester every year. It is little wonder we have a housing crisis. How can we possibly accommodate this and claim it is sustainable?
In 1998, the Office for National Statistics predicted that the UK population would rise to 65m by 2051. We’re already there! Now they say it could reach 80 million by 2040, mostly as a result of immigration.
David Cameron promises a review of welfare benefits for EU migrants but equally, we need to look at the pull factors for illegals – many openly piling up in Calais attempting to cross to the UK. The EU Commission says it is the responsibility of each Member State to set the rules for welfare support.
We need urgent action to address these issues and clear shared rules that would be strict enough to discourage ineligible people from attempting dangerous journeys. The growing cost to communities of accommodating large-scale inflows of people, in a now crowded world, raises many challenging questions. This is not a left or right issue or racist. It is about global social and environmental sustainability.