|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Monday, 7 August, 2000, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Does Europe need to take in huge numbers of immigrants?
European Ministers are discussing a radical suggestion that EU needs to admit more than 75 million immigrants to cope with labour and skills shortages, over the nest 50 years.
The result - it is suggested - could change the face of the continent, leading to more racially mixed societies and a greater cross- fertilisation of ideas.
But could such a plan ever gain public acceptance, given the anti-foreigner sentiment witnessed in a number of European countries this year.
What are the risks of such an approach? Would it better to encourage European families to have more children? Or could mass-immigration encourage a new economic and cultural dynamism?
The Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
SJ, US, but Indian
Yes, Europe needs a huge number of immigrant from poor countries to support their labour and skills market.
The comments expressed by
a large cross-section of people are
very interesting. This issue is more
about economics perhaps as all of
today's issues are. A more competitive
Europe requires the right kind of workers
soon, which is a fact. Outright transfers
of such workers from under-developed
countries, which seems to offer the
fastest solution is fraught with long
term economic problems for the poorer
nations and social problems for the
MIKE, UK and others who think us non-white are no good for this country. I have just served 12 years for queen and country with the Royal Air force and now have a successful job in the IT Industry. The reason for my success was due to HARD WORK.
It's a migratory world, that's how it works. Not through isolation, but cooperation. People have always needed to move around and always will, obviously the more crowded the planet becomes the more people will feel threatened by their territory being encroached upon. But I'm in favour of it, it's natural, history shows us it works.
Talent and skill should always be welcomed, be it African, Indian or Korean. It is beneficial to the entire world as such.
Usman Bajwa, Canada
Immigrants - why not? They can be potential assets if they have the right skills for the new country.
I do not agree that most Asians are uneducated, low skilled and desperate to migrate to European countries. Over the past few years, I have seen an increasing number of people coming from all over Asia to be educated in English in Singapore and Malaysia. Only a minority of these students have plans of moving away from home for good. Even when we work overseas, there will come a day when we return home to our roots. Instead of allowing more immigrants into Europe, why not start training low-skilled workers? Attracting overseas talent is not a solution to the problem in the long term. Our countries need us here to help them too. Would you like it if Europeans started migrating to Asia in huge numbers?
Before looking at bringing people into the EU to work, perhaps we need to consider that the EU is not one state which operates under the same laws and has a unified taxation system. Because of this some areas will be targeted more than others leading, perhaps, to ghetto situations.
As an ex-patriate British professional engineer, I can say that one of my last choices to relocate would be Britain because of the shabby way professional people are treated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Britain has so much talent that has left its shores. It could do itself an enormous favour by enticing it back again before looking to immigrants to fulfil its needs.
Because of lower pay levels and a perceived lower standard of living, the UK is not generally attracting the very best talent coming out of India and other Asian countries. The US and Canada are typically the first choice of destination for the best doctors, engineers and IT professionals. Yes, Britain does need higher quality professionals to fill the void created by the lack of home-grown talent, but not to the detriment of developing nations.
Michael Duhig, Germany
Immigration should be closed for the next 3-4 years to let the authorities sort out the current mess and put in place procedures that will provide a quick and fair process for future immigrants.
During this time immediately deport anyone who comes in.
You've got to be hard to be fair.
I am surprised at the number of Irish who have spoken out against taking immigrants - you would think that a country with their history of emigration would have a lot more sympathy for immigrants.
The topic of racism is one that seems to crop up frequently here. My main concern is that there are a great number of people with racist prejudices in the UK and I worry about their reaction. Too many times have I heard the idiotic chant "they come over here and steal our jobs...". This nearly always comes from people who don't have the nonce to get on and work for themselves. We need to ensure that neither immigrants nor existing citizens can just sit back and be carried along. We need to re-educate the idiots who feel they're losing out and make sure that they have no reason to feel this by removing any loopholes that could be exploited.
Surely there is as big a problem finding people to do LESS-skilled jobs. University entrance has vastly increased in recent years, and many of the unemployed do not seriously consider more menial work. It is a universal (though not publicly acknowledged) truth in the USA that migrant Mexican workers make the South-West tick - and an awful lot of them are illegals. As long as migrant workers are prepared to do more menial jobs (at least at first), then all countries should take in as many of them as possible. Again, America is a prime example of such a policy really working.
While we still have unemployment in the EU we don't need to make it worse. However, there are still people in Britain for example who will not work. This attitude has to be made unacceptable. I am convinced that unemployment is at the root of society's ills, so I think these people should be hounded INTO work.
Countries like Australia take a sensible approach to immigration. They will only accept those who are useful to the economy. That, I think, is a more practical view.
How will developing nations ever develop if their best and brightest leave? They will only become poorer. Europe has plenty of people for a small continent, nearly 400 million! And enough unemployment too. Why don't some talented and bright Europeans offer their services to a developing country? This would help bring a better standard of living so that people would not want to go somewhere else for economic reasons.
Anil Sharma, USA/India
Encouraging development and democracy in the immigrants' home countries is the better and more appropriate long-term solution.
Otherwise how will civilisation develop?
I don't live in Europe anymore. The continent is too crowded, and I don't think anyone should be encouraged to have more children. Sharp population drops can mess up the status quo in industry (Is this a bad thing? An alternative way of living could be adopted, like a simpler lifestyle), and to fix that problem, I think enough immigration to keep the population only slightly would keep the standard of living where it's at, with improvement in the future for the common folk.
Immigration to developed countries is mostly sapping developing countries of their skilled people.
Welcoming immigrants is a two edged sword. One way it may bring skills which are not sufficient in European Union. But immigrants who are coming to EU cannot change their lifestyles. For example European countries didn't change their way of life in their colonies. Welcoming immigrants and want them to change their way of life is not possible. So why can't you just train your own people? There will be no problems for future generations. Every body gains in long run, if you leave shorter gains.
Shortage of workers,
especially low skilled
be seen as a boon
and a means to increase
automation in our
robotics and computer science
can deal with this today,
only, and this situation
should provide the
motivation for increased
investment in this area.
The way to resolve a skills shortage is to introduce extensive training not add even more foreign immigrants to one of the smallest and most crowded places on earth - England being the ultimate destination for the majority of European immigrants .
It's only fair that the other nations in the EU should take in immigrants and refugees as Britain has. Actually, I think that a certain number of refugees and other immigrants should be a condition for joining the European Union.
USA is an immigrant country and look at the way it is dominating the world. If Europe wants to compete with the US then it has to add young, skilled immigrant population. Otherwise Europe will be left behind in the global village and US, Japan, China and with grace of God even India will overtake Europe.
I seem to remember reading that if you want to live in Sweden you have to learn the language and have a job before you may enter the country. How about we do the same thing.
Akhter Hussain, UK
With a 10-12% unemployment rate in most EU countries, Europe should utilise the present labour skills. Worker retraining and extended careers before eligibility for retirement is a better option. Employers favour immigration because they get younger workers at lower costs. But the longer-run costs of non-assailable minorities are borne by the community. There is much in the business press about workers over forty not being able to find jobs. These people have a thirty-year work life ahead of them. With pensions as stingy as they are in the UK, People need more employment opportunities.
Many of the correspondents on this page seem to think that the majority of immigrants are void of skills and can't speak English. But it is also true that many indigenous English people possess limited skills and struggle with the language. There are many immigrants who have achieved great success, through both their diligence and adroitness. Therefore to disparage immigrants is without good reason.
If immigrants had skills and language competence in English, then great lets encourage them to come. The reality is that the vast majority have little English, low skills and poor educational level. This is not bias it is the facts from the governments own RDP. Most immigrants consume far more in services than they will ever repay.
What are the interest groups pushing these hair-brained ideas? I think that African and Indian immigration should be channelled to some of the economically prosperous parts of China.
Skilled people will always have mobility if their skills are
valued. That's one of the benefits of the free market. I have no problems at all with
encouraging people who do not feel their skills are valued in
another country to move to where their skills are justly rewarded.
Dave Jones, UK
Judging by the pay that politicians/lawyers/accountants/city people earn, can we assume there is a skills shortage there also. So why haven't they recruited foreigners to help put more people in these positions. This is just a ploy to keep the money amongst the rich. They do not like to see working class kids who are good with computers earning so much money.
I think Mohansingh from India makes a fair comment. If we need skilled workers why do we not train our own people rather than poach the workers from poorer countries. We should also be making better use of the labour we have - work smarter, not harder.
Paul R, UK
If they have the skills which are in short supply in their country of choice for immigration, then fine, otherwise slam the door firmly shut. It would be better to spend tax payers money on education, the NHS or pensioners instead of handouts to immigrants, who cannot even be bothered to learn the English language.
The effect of the west taking all the best and brightest from developing countries is a hundred times more detrimental to those countries that the huge debts are. The effect of this brain drain should not be ignored.
But we don't bring in skilled labour, skilled foreign friends of mine have some difficulty staying here, even though they have support themselves. You only seem to be welcomed into the UK and Eire with open arms if you have no money, no skills and want to be given everything for free. No wonder people get resentful! We should ONLY let in skilled workers.
While the freebies and the benefits are so good here, all Britain is attracting is the type of immigrants with an in-built ethnic resistance to the work-ethic! Asians are world-renowned for their education, motivation, skills and desire to work hard. These are the people that Britain needs.
It seems foolish to look at immigration without looking at the issue of emigration. Highly skilled entrepreneurs and technical personnel are being driven away from the UK by stealth taxes such as IR35. It would make sense to look at the cause of skills shortages rather than just trying to fix the inevitable consequences.
How about the training the native inhabitants of these countries being a priority? If you improve the unemployment situation, you improve the economic position of your country, thereby encouraging skilled workers from outside to come and find work in your country, instead of no-hopers looking to scrounge a honey pot of benefits.
Viable alternatives need to be explored first like;
Outsourcing of work in areas where man-power and skills are required,
setting-up shop in countries where there a lot of skilled workers.
These would do a lot of good for both parties, e.g. increase
interaction, push for better communication facilities and integrate the world into
a true 'global village'. Mass immigration is certainly not in the best interests of any country,
at least in the long term.
Alex Banks, Wales
To Tom, UK. They do not want tolerance, they want acceptance. Try using the NHS and you will see that over 60% of doctors are from the Asian community.
The key word here is "skilled" - most immigrants seem to have no skills whatsoever, not even an ability to speak our language. These are the ones I object to. If someone can bring something of value into the workforce then yes, it would be a good thing.
EU countries are simply taking the best step forward.
At least for African countries. These are characterised by limited technology, gross unemployment and
It is much better for an individual to have a job even if it pays less than to stay idle and disorderly when there are vacancies elsewhere. It is
time we forgot about the existing political boundaries and co-exist at least when it comes to the job market.
It seems that most skill shortages
are due to people not wanting
to work for low wages,
thus encouraging overseas
recruitment of a cheap workforce.
More immigrants? What for?
How about helping them to develop industry in their countries?
Other Talking Points:
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy