immigrationOne controversial topic we’ve not yet covered on Debating Europe is the thorny issue of immigration. At a time when European demographics mean a shrinking young population must support a growing number of eldery people, there are those who argue that only an increase in immigrant labour will be able to maintain standards of living. Debating Europe interviewed the Prime Minister of Malta, Lawrence Gonzi, and asked him about the experiences of his own country when it came to EU immigration policy.

Prime Minister Gonzi has spoken in the past of an “enormous immigration crisis” triggered by the Arab Spring and the intervention in Libya, and about the need for EU countries to work together to cope. We had a comment sent in from Christos, who criticised the EU’s approach:

We saw with the immigration problem, after the Arab revolution hit North Africa and thousands were loading themselves on a boat to enter the EU through Spain, Italy, Malta or even Greece, the Northern states ‘ducked’ once again and said that responsibility lay with the states where immigrants were entering into the EU.

But the immigrants do not want to stay in the poor South, they want to move on to the rich North… So why don’t the rich nations of Europe act as one with the states that are on the borders of the continent and assist them? Instead they decided to choose the easy option and suspend the Schengen agreement, like France and Denmark! If they had any problems with how Italy, Malta and Greece handled the situation, then why didn’t all our governments take action together?

How would the Prime Minister respond? Was he satisfied with the support Malta had recieved from other EU countries during the height of the crisis?

Well, I think that progress has been registered compared with three or four years ago. Malta’s immigration problem started even before the uprisings; we’ve been facing this problem for a long time. Most immigrants would target mainland Europe, never wanting to come to Malta. They place their lives in tremendous danger making the crossing, and sometimes their boats are forced to stop at Malta. The numbers have increased, and have continued to increase for several years.

In absolute terms, we have a very small number of immigrants. Following the Libya uprising, we received over a thousand immigrants. It was a very small number, but when you consider we have a population of only 400’000 people, this has an enormous impact.

Progress has been made. The EU accepted a pilot project especially for Malta, with ten member states agreeing to participate and accept a number of immigrants from Malta for resettlement. The total number is in the region of 250 people. It’s a good number, but not enough. The US, for example, has taken over 700 illegal immigrants from Malta for resettlement. If the US is able to do this, I expect more solidarity from EU member states.

Christos also made a comment more generally about the Arab Spring, saying: “As for our involvement in the Arab spring… well, we cannot just watch, but we cannot interfere too much either. We must support the civilians, [and] I am not in favor of military actions anywhere… Aid and sanctions are my ideal ways of intervening.” How does Prime Minister Gonzi feel about the sudden political instability in his region?

We look very positively on these developments. The birth of democracy will not happen overnight, of course. The uprisings themselves closed one chapter, and a new chapter is now opening. The challenge is giving birth to democracy whilst respecting the Arab culture; our responsibility is to contribute and support, not to impose our own models for democracy. We should be shoulder-to-shoulder with them and what I’ve seen so far is encouraging. I think what’s happening in Tunisia, for example, is moving in the right direcction. It’s still early days in Libya, but we are confident things will move in the right direction.

What do YOU think? Should EU member states help “shoulder the burden” with border members when it comes to immigration? Does immigration threaten social cohesion in Europe, or are the demographic challenges far more pressing? And has multi-culturalism “failed” as so many politicians claim? Let us know your thoughts in the form below, and we’ll take your comments to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.


35 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    The immigrants MUST ADAPT TO EUROPEAN LIFESTYLE if they want to live here. There is not other option. Otherwise the European cultures will dissappear in the mix of WRONG UNDERSTANDED MULTICULTURALISM. The democracy and the freedom are only UNTIL the BASIC VALUES of European culture are denied. If you come in my home and I am kind and let you stay here, DO NOT MEAN you can change my rules in the house. If you don’t like my rules you are free to not move here. If you move here you BECOME EUROPEAN and you lean to be European.

    This things must be written in EU constitution, BLACK ON WHITE/VERY CLEAR.

    So, the immigrants must have LESS RIGHTS from their own countries. They must have all rights for an European citizen, BUT NOT MORE. They must not build huge communities of immigrants and towns in towns. They must integrate INDIVIDUALLY as citizens of one European country or another. This NeoTechnocratical approach is designed to stimulate the moderate European nationalism and to discourage the ultra-nationalists. If immigrants are building too strong communities in Europe, the local populations will become irritated and the extremists will start to manifest violently against immigrants. We do not want ethnic problems in Europe ! Do we ?

    • Andrew

      Very well said…..very well said!!!!

  2. Jovan Ivosevic

    Simple: More immigration for highly skilled labor, less immigration for low skilled or unskilled labor.

    • NA

      Yes!

  3. Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    I think we must train in Europe people to have everything we need. It’s a salvage system to use immigrant to sustain the economy. Our youngsters are buying expansive cars and the work to be done from others ? It’s crazy. Every nation must grow with own people. I, as Romanian I must stay here and fight for my country. I will go to other countries as tourist. Every individual must understand that and this must be the state politics in every country.

    Why it’s salvage ? Because poor countries will remain in poorness without their best ones. The advanced countries can not afford morally speaking to steal from poor countries. We must have some dignity. If we are not capable to produce enough qualified people in Europe, means that Europe have a problem and must be fixed internally, not by bringing immigrants. They do not solve the systemic problem. With immigrants we only treat the effect but not the cause. On medium-long term it’s a disaster.

    But who cares morality and principles this days ? :) In the speed of progress we forgot who we are !

    • Andrew

      True Miscarea!

  4. Nikolay Petrov Petrov

    while accepting and giving social benefits to 3d world immigrants western EU states like HOLLAND in the first place are DISCRIMINATING bulgarians and romanians – oldest european citizens

  5. Christos Mouzeviris

    Immigration and multiculturalism can be very positive if handled properly…But again our Governments are failing us and they mess things a bit..My mantra is less immigration, better integration, or slower process..We have put immigrant populations in ghettos, we have alienated them..Unemployment of a young Arab living in Brussels up to the age of 30 is almost certain..so why on Earth do we do this…?? what is the point of allowing immigrants in if we are not willing to accept them or give them proper jobs..?? why create second class citizens..?? who benefits from all this?

    in my opinion this is a modern day slavery..we import more people that we need, to exploit them and have cheap work force, to the detriment of our social stability…because every now and again we do see social issues arising, riots from immigrants, rise in far right groups among native European populations all over Europe…so why are we doing it this…??

    here are some of my views of a common immigration policy for Europe..hope you find them interesting:

    http://eblanademocraticmove.blogspot.com/2011/08/common-immigration-policy-for-europe.html

    http://eblanademocraticmove.blogspot.com/2011/09/what-type-of-multicultural-model-for.html

  6. Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    Romanians must build Romania, Bulgarians, Bulgaria and so on. The advanced countries must offer know-how to poorer nations, not to steal resources from them. In theory the advanced countries are enough advanced to survive without stealing. They must help instead. IF this thing is not possible it means that the advanced countries are finally not so advanced as everybody thinks now. It’s like the american dream – here is the dream, here is not the dream anymore :)

  7. Christos Mouzeviris

    My dear the advanced countries are so corrupt and greedy that will use anything to make sure that the less advanced countries won’t become as advanced as them..There is no space for too many super rich in this world…!! They want it all..So even if they are giving you money now, you will have to repay them in the future…Just see Greece, Ireland, Portugal and so on..

    cheap money was poured into their economies just to create bubble economies to be burst later and make those nations forever under the control of the richer ones…now we are paying for their debts as well..it is not Ireland that is bust…we are paying to secure and save American, British, German and French shares in our banking system.The same goes for Greece…we are forced in continuous bail outs because the French and Germans have shares in our Banks they do not want to lose…And then they are telling us it is our fault that we have to pay now..

    How, when they destroyed every company there was in our country, to replace them with theirs..??

    They will make sure that you never become as rich as them..They want your lands for exploitation for their own benefit, and you as their worker…

    There is a video on line comparing Ireland and Norway, how rich is Norway because it exploits its oil and gas itself, and Ireland that has also oil and gas but gave it away in the past, gets nothing out of it…

    In fact Norwegian company Statoil exploits the Irish oil while having about 30-35% of the shares and of course the earnings…So while the Irish gave their oil away, the Norwegians were able to keep theirs…And not only that, but exploit other nations’ oil too..Why is that?

    Who decided what nation can be prosperous and can exploit its natural resources on its own, and who bought off or pushed or threatened the then Governments of Ireland and Greece to give up any chance of prosperity..

    I remember in the ’80s when oil was found in my mothers maiden town of Epanomi..Even a then minister Mr Papoutsis came for the opening…Then nothing…Nothing happened..They told us that there just was not enough oil for exploitation…Now they are telling us again that there is…And foreign companies are circling like vultures to take it…The Norwegians already came, the British and the Americans…the lot of them…

    The truth is out there…we know it…and this time we are going to do something about it…

  8. Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    The “extremely” advanced socio-economical system in world in general, it’s so advanced that collapses under own weight. Have to much variables and it’s too complicated and unclear to survive. Everything must be re-thinked from scratch. All the rules we are using now worked well in some conditions that are not longer valid: they worked when the world population was smaller, when was almost no immigration at all (now it’s massive), when were no fast communications and internet (40 years ago people had time to think – in the stock market if some important event occurred people had time to think – if you were on the road you didn’t find out – go home – go to work – fixed phone etc – more phones analysis etc. Now everything is instant but the humans are the same. Result = everything is critical and possibly wrong. The only benefit is for traders that have plans. All the other are failing and traders get billions). So, all the economical system because of technology become unstable. The solution is not to quit using technology, but to simplify the entire structure to make it useful for the people. The economy of the world MUST SERVE PEOPLE. Is not for the sake of itself or to make a lot of billionaires. The scope is not like in communism to make everybody equals in poverty but neither to make the dictatorship of money. The right system is the system, not of the equality because people will never be equal by genes, but of the equality of chances. The poor must have access to THE SAME EDUCATION as the richest. Now, if you have money you go to UK to study, if not you can starve in peace. This is capitalism. It’s a theoretical freedom of anyone to go anywhere, but in practice there are no chances to do it for the poor. And because of the system failure, poorness is increasing and the gap between poor and rich goes grows. In crisis the rich will have always something to eat, electricity water, car etc. The poor now have all this, but tomorrow will not have them anymore, and not because of their own failure but because of the defective socio-economical system. We can fix the system, or we can let as it is now, and go to war to kill each other for food, fuel and other stuff.

  9. Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    Example of the diference between the situation in world from 40 years ago, and the actual situation: In 1920 the world population were 2 billions. Less then 100 years after the populations is 7 billion. If in 1920 you need to exploit some wood for economy, it not was a very big problem. There were enough trees for 2 billion. But now they are not enogh for 7 AND the amount of trees is SIGNIFICANTLY SMALLER then it was in 1920 because we cut them. So, let’s aproximate: 1920: N trees for 2 billion – 2012: N trees divided by 3 (ecologists have more precise data – I only want to reveal the idea) for 7 billions. And we will be more.

    The system will fail COMPLETELY SOON if we do not fix it on ALL PLANS !

  10. Miscarea Tehnocrata Romania Noastra

    There is needed a very good and CLEAR strategy to put everything in PERFECT ORDER. Like in accounting. That is required order to avoid the bankruptcy of the system. Order, and a continuous study and improvements to the system. Scientific work. Politics is about LOGICS OF THE SYSTEM, about academics, about EVOLUTION. Politics must become a science of the system. Politicians must be experts in the science of socio-political systems building.

  11. Nikolai Holmov

    Before I go into any detail, I should make a disclosure that I am an immigrant in Ukraine. A British citizen with permanent residency. I am probably a rare case of a citizen from an EU nation emigrating to another European nation but one which is not an EU nation, yet may (or not) become a EU nation in the distant future.

    As is seemingly always the case with the EU on matters that matter, there is no single policy relating to the EU nations as all have a national immigration policy set by national governments. That may (or not) be smudged by small print in the Schengen agreements but as not all EU members are subject to the Schengen rules either by choice or by not meeting the criteria and thus prevented, quite obviously there is no joined up, one size fits all immigration policy free from individual national interests.

    The same applies for asylum. That is a sovereign (and not EU) decision to grant (or not). Therefore consistency and uniformity are again lacking between the component parts of the whole.

    One wonders how the EEAS “silver threads” of foreign policy relating to human rights will be reflected when those human rights are not being projected from the EU outwards but are inverted and under the microscope when it comes to inflows.

    Like Turkey, Belarus and Moldova, Ukraine is a border nation to the EU and is subject to a readmission agreement with the EU relating to immigration (and asylum).

    The EU paid for, Ukrainian run “holding areas” for those bounced back by the EU or detained by Ukraine prior to reaching the EU for months on end are numerous and large.

    Possibly inconsequential, possibly not.

    Ukraine also suffers from a shrinking demographic, not only due to migrating Ukrainians but also due to birth rate. Whilst it may not be politically correct to highlight the fact, there is an obvious area for research relating to the entire continent of Europe having an aging population and small youthful generation. With that I direct attention to the emancipation of women across the continent.

    Europe has made huge strides in emancipating women which is a very big plus as far as European sensibilities and leading by example go. It also has an obvious causal effect that there is likely to be less births due to women having far other demands or preferences in their lives than to simply produce children (or as many children) as they once did.

    A shrinking European populous, be it EU or European nations external of the EU is universal across the continent. It is highly unlikely that the emancipation of women and their equal rights will be rolled back to increase the European population.

    Therefore regardless of economic times, the birth rates will continue to decline. In times of poor economic climate and given a high level of education across Europe, those women who plan to have children may well delay indefinitely that act quite understandably.

    The issue is how to encourage women to have children across Europe. It seems quite abhorrent to think of battery hens or child birth and child raising as a State-sponsored profession.

    The only other alternative is immigration regardless of when or how it occurs.

    If immigration is going to be the solution to ever decreasing European populous numbers, then it is a question of whether sovereign governments look short term with regards to specific skills shortages (who may or may not have children) or whether they look long term towards population growth.

    Terribly difficult to get that answer right without raising the nationalist element in every sovereign nation and the problems that in and of itself causes.

    • totti

      Does the European Union take appropriate measures to deal with illegal immigration?

  12. polipop.eu

    Though this may be stating the obvious, our leaders don’t have all the answers. However, from this year onwards, citizens will be able to help them out directly in dealing with eu-wide responses to our common problems. This makes sense because a lot of us who live in the real world are better equipped to deal with many of these issues since we experience them first hand. This being said, we don’t always have the time nor the means to participate in political policy making and as our result our precious insights are lost. Follow us if you want to find out more about sharing your insights so that the whole of the EU can benefit from them.

  13. Demetris Kneknas

    Europe should first take care of it’s own citizens, make sure all of them live above a set standard and then take in more immigration each European country should accept as many immigrants as the country’s economy can absorb without harming the interests of the native population

  14. Gregoris Gregoriou

    European Union should invest in those countries of Asia and Africa and try to develop their economies as “partners” for a better life standard. Then perhaps those poor countries would stop to “export” human resources. This way these people would never have to leave their country. They would also stop seen the Western civilization as enemy…
    In return , the rising life standard would make the people of these poor countries, desire access to technology and appliances, making themselves customers of advanced countries. Of course this evolution must take place in a “green” way or planet’s pollution would increase rapidly…

  15. Chris

    Ugh, i hate europe right now. EUROPE IS FOR EUROPEANS!!! IT IS OUR CULTURE YOU’RE DESTROYING YOU COMMY POLITICIANS!!!
    I’d rather europe go bust and restart then have our culture and heritage taken away!!!

  16. Chris

    How about highly skilled europeans for europe? All immigration has done is make things worse. Sweden now has ghetto’s, greek’s are pissed, most immigrants are on welfare, they don’t want our culture and we shouldn’t force it on them thats racist, 681 rapes of british women by 9 muslim men in 5 years, they want to convert everyone to islam, white people are a dying race, everyone sticking up for their culture and heritage are marked racists only because they’re white, muslims have more rights than us, want sharia law, leftist marxist communist leaders not taking responsibility, people too afraid to walk around at night in scandinavia, people blowing themselves up, everyone except the ones getting money out of this violence are poor, nationalists are called nazi’s for sticking up for their rights, anti-racist is codename for anti-white, people are forcing segregation in their own homeland for fear, meanwhile the government just shrugs and says ‘i get money, yeah i get it’. But oh well, we have racist governments that don’t like white people and are sell outs. Don’t blame us when hitler style parties are on the move and kill foreigners, the government asked for it.

  17. Europe

    The EU should strengthen its borders in Mediterranean Sea…Italians are doing a great job at catching them and sending back the people.

  18. Andrew

    Firstly the title to this debate should be “How should Europe respond to ILLEGAL immigration” as there is a difference from legal immigration as opposed to illegal immigration.

    I do agree that the European population is diminishing as there are less birth rates, while unfortunately the immigrant population are increasing tenfold and in time they will have outnumbered us completely! Apart from it being their culture to have many kids, they also are living the life in our countries…getting good welfare, clothes, houses, education, etc, while idling their time in their ghettos, and this idle time continues to help their child productivity which is not doing us any good at all!

    Now for us Europeans to start producing more babies, the governments need to offer better lives to us whereby the need for both parents to work their b**ls off everyday so they could live is removed. As it is now, with both parents working, there is little or no time for them to concentrate of raising a family, but if this mentality is changed then child rearing will increase and our population will strengthen and we would be self sustained as we all were a good few years ago!

    Illegal immigration is not doing us any good as to start off with they have brought with them cheap labour which inturn is leading to more unemployment for us. This is the mentality that needs to change….we do not need illegal immigrants in our countries and yes I fully agree that they should be sent back (not repatriated with the idiotic Burden Sharing scheme) where they came from irrespective of what the consequences would be. In time, if we keep sending each and everyone that comes here back in time they will realise that it is useless sacrificing their lives crossing from Libya as when they land on our shores they will immediately be deported back!

    But our politicians have no balls to do this….yes true they promise us that they would, but that is all they do….promises and no action!

    SOON WE ARE GOING TO BE ALL EXTREMELY SORRY THAT WE DID NOT TAKE DRASTIC MEASURES WHEN WE HAD TIME!!!

  19. Richard

    A news program told the story of an illegal immigrant the other day. She and her 3 children had landed illegally in Lampedusa, been processed by the Italian authorities, given money and put on a train to Vienna! This isn’t my idea of how to cope with these people, they should be turned round and sent directly back to whence they came. Better still a concerted effort by all EU countries should concentrate on preventing these illegal immigrants getting on the boats in the first place. This is a question of national security and I’m sure the various agencies responsible for this could identify and target the illegal traffickers who are profiting from this scandal. Also an intensive education program should be started in the countries where the immigrants originate with the very clear message, “Do not come! You are not welcome! You will not succeed!”

    This is a European problem and should be faced by every member of the EU equally. Northern European and Scandinavian countries should send resources, personnel and money to help repel this de facto invasion of Europe.

    • Andrew Kaci Hili

      Agree perfectly with you. Burden sharing is not the way to rid us all of this problem, it’s sending each and everyone back that will finally begin to give positive results and nothing else!

  20. Jim

    The US has been effectively ignoring the decades old invasion via our uncontrolled southern border. For decades we have had the power elite wanting to be “just like Europe”. It seems the we share the same problem on either side of the pond. I guess they are getting their wish. Multiculturalism and diversity are destroying a once great nation. In less than a decade we will be sharing our common misery with our friends across the Atlantic.

    • Andrew Kaci Hili

      Well said Jim!

  21. Timo Bremer

    My take on immigration?
    Well, I don’t see why people born inside some arbitrary borders are different from people born outside of them, why place of birth should decide over life chances from education over job opportunities to health care. I am for opening our borders and welcoming whoever wants to come. It would be more effective at relieving poverty than any aid program and development effort ever attempted if we just allowed a couple hundred million people to come here. And given that they would have very different skill sets they would not directly compete with us on the labor market, not threatening our jobs but instead increasing our standard of living through the resulting economic boom. Economists have estimated that opening the worlds borders could triple world GDP. If Europe was to open its borders, we would be on the fore again…

    • Richard

      Hahaha, nice one! ( this IS a joke, isn’t it? )

  22. Andrew Kaci Hili

    Timo, here we are talking about illegal immigration and not legal immigration!

    Also do not believe what economists say…the truth is that they are being forced to say so as our political correct leaders wants to impose multiculturalism onto us, so they try to picture it nicely but anyone can see the disastrous results this is having on all our countries!

  23. kristiyan

    As I am from Bulgaria which constantly fight with muslims from Syria and trying to stop them enter in Europe I think all countries in Europe should united and stop any immigration and islamisation of Europe they will make shariah and kill us we must stop this that’s what I think.

  24. Human

    My ancestry is Scottish and some English and a little German. If European countries made it as easy for me to immigrate as they do for non-whites, I’d have moved there long ago. I don’t find the “diversity” of the USA helpful or healthy in any way. It has dragged down the quality of life here and the trend will continue until this country looks and operates like the third world. I’m polite, intelligent, hard working and I like to live simply. I would not object to having to take less desirable jobs as the newcomer. I suspect there are many others like me who would move back to Europe in a heartbeat if Europe gave the go-ahead.

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