Immigration is deeply rooted in the European history. In the post-war times several West European governments – especially in big and devastated countries – resorted to immigration to cope with important needs for labour force the after-reconstruction economic boom. Immigrants, mostly from Northern Africa and the Middle East, therefore belong to the origins of the European social model and immigration doubtlessly played a crucial role in its coming of age. The existence of a common social model to European countries will not be discussed here. Rather this concept shall refer to the Welfare State as an organizational model of production and work relationships, as well as to the typical social and political arrangement in Europe after 1945. But if it is one constituent of this model, why is the role of immigration in Europe questioned today? When trying to have European-wide glance at the problem, the term immigrants will refer here to non-EU citizens. It should also be distinguished between legal and illegal immigration, which are to relate to different economic and political problems. There are two categories of factors for immigration. On the one hand “push factors”, ie factors that lead people to leave their home country, are the most crucial: family reunification as most important, asylum seeking and work. On the other hand, “pull factors” attract people to go to certain countries: it is mainly a demand for labour force which leads governments to create incentives (delivering special visas) or employers to organize recruitment networks . Finally, the level of immigrant population in a country falls back on many dimensions that need to be taken into account: while it has a strong impact on the economy, it is also related to people's identity, societal change and therefore has a strong political and electoral dimension. This paper will argue that while there is room for immigrants in Europe, the acceptable level of immigration depends on societies' capacity to tackle the political problems related to it. In other words, the aim will be to highlight the trade-off between economic rationality and political issues facing decision-makers. This paper will try to provide for a comprehensive overview of the issue. However, the focus will be more on legal and work-related immigration than illegal immigration. The first section will explain why immigration can be seen as a chance for Europe and enlarge on the action undertaken by the EU in this area. The second section will argue, however, that many problematic political issues should be taken into consideration which undermine the relevance of the recourse to immigration for economic purposes.
[...] While it remains relatively focused on border control and the tackling of illegal immigration, economic immigration is even more envisaged as a potential remedy to Europe's economic problems The coming of age of a European immigration policy and the economic issue Historically the case for a common immigration policy of the EU was provided by the creation of a common area of free movement with Shengen Agreement signed in 1985 between the Benelux countries, France and Germany, and then joined by most EU countries. [...]
[...] Next to disagreement between member-states governments, there is a range of political issues that should be reflect on when advocating the instrumentalization of immigration as an economic factor The difficult search for an efficient integration model The integration of immigrants into European societies has become a real political problem in the last years. So far, no national policy has proven to be efficient, whatever “model of integration” has applied in the last decades. In France, Republican tradition does not allow for ethnic or cultural differentiation and denies immigrants specific interests, because they should be assimilated into the nation. [...]
[...] United Nations, Population Division of the Economic and Social Affairs Department, Replacement Migration: Is it a solution to Ageing and Declining Populations?, March 2000, p available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/publications.htm, 05/ Press articles Les médecins étrangers en grève Le Nouvel Observateur, 21/12/2005, available at http://archquo.nouvelobs.com/cgi/articles?ad=social/20051223.OBS9941.html&ho st=http://permanent.nouvelobs.com/, 22/03/2006. Sassen, Saskia, Géo-économie des flux migratoires in : Esprit, Decembre 2003, pp. 102-104. Also : Coppel Jonathan, Dumont Jean-Christophe, Visco Ignazio, “Trends in immigration and economic consequences”, OECD Economics Department Working Papers, p.11, available at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/54/24/31829838.pdf, 08/03/2006. [...]
[...] Finally, there is also a trend showing concentration of immigrants in socially-deprived ghettos in the periphery of big European cities, leaving them in areas abandoned by native population and where chances for integration are obviously reduced. The social discrimination against immigrants is even more doubled by even more openly expressed xenophobia Populism and xenophobia: a European-wide trend Since the 1990's, problems related to immigration has become a real political and even electoral issue. Indeed, as electoral campaigns have focused even more on unemployment and security issues, they have been clearly related by some political parties with the presence of a high number of immigrants. [...]
[...] Conclusion The analysis carried out in this paper allows drawing different kind of conclusions about the question whether there is room for immigrants in the European social model. The number of immigrants is variable from a country to another and depends on national historical backgrounds. However, no model has been able to ensure their optimal integration into a European society. As a common principle, all European governments have to welcome asylum seekers, which results in the slow harmonization of the rules applying to asylum seekers and refugees across Europe. [...]
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