Since the start of the refugee crisis, over one million people have entered Europe. Compared to the total population of the European Union (508 million), that number is relatively small. However, considering that there are currently roughly 20 million people jobless across the EU, could even a relatively small influx of refugees hurt the overall unemployment rate?

On the other hand, there are over 60 million displaced people in the world. The vast, vast majority of those are being hosted in the developing world. Europe is still, despite sluggish economic growth, a relatively prosperous place. Seeing as the rest of the world is shouldering more than their share of the burden, shouldn’t Europe do its part and fulfill the obligations it has committed to?

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Bernd on our ‘Suggest a Debate’ page, arguing that the refugee crisis cannot possibly be a ‘win-win’ situation when there are millions of Europeans desperately looking for a job.

Will the refugee crisis make unemployment worse in Europe? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!

Radical Left
Thomas Händel (GUE-NGL), Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs:

Thomas HANDEL - 8th Parliamentary termWell, it is not improving the situation. But the real problems are not people fleeing from war and hunger but austerity politics in Brussels. The EU lives in its richest period, there is enough to share with Europeans and those who need shelter and care. But this requires a different approach to redistribute wealth, better tax regulations and common European social policies as well as well targeted public investment programs to boost the economy.

Bodil Valero (Group of the Greens):

valeroNo, of course not. First of all, I don’t call it a migration crisis. It is a crisis for the people who have to flee, but not for us. I come from Sweden, where a lot of migrants arrived who also gave a lot of job opportunities for others who had been unemployed for a long time. I think that the more we are, the more jobs we create. We do not necessarily have more unemployment because cause of migration. Migration can also be a way to create work. I think we also need a lot of people in Europe if we want to keep up our standards, so we should see migration as an opportunity and not as a problem.

Liberal Democrats
Sylvie Goulard (ALDE), Member of the European Parliament:

Sylvie GOULARD - 8th Parliamentary termSome Member States are experiencing low unemployment or aging populations, so new additions to the work force can actually be positive. Our collective inability to tackle unemployment can be better explained by the lack of reforms undertaken, in education or labour laws; the lack of governance at the euro area level; the lack of confidence in our collective ability to influence the world order (e.g. the CETA agreement); rigid legislation while new technologies speed everything up – just look at taxation issues. Some boldness is required at the EU and national levels, which is achievable if we take clear, accountable decisions the citizens can understand and support. Prosperity is not a cake of a set size but rather the result of a dynamic.

Centre Right
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP), Member of the European Parliament:

Sander Loones (ECR), Member of the European Parliament:


John Steward Agnew (EFDD), Member of the European Parliament:

Curious to know more about refugees and unemployment in Europe? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).2-meeu-unemployment

IMAGE CREDIT: CC / Flickr – bellmon1
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86 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Fernando Nabais

    One million unemployed people entering Europe means one million more people unemployed in Europe. End of discussion. If we talk about social welfare, things will be quite worst as it will be one million people totally dependent of social welfare which will drain a large amount of resources.

    • avatar
      Fernando Nabais

      Christofer Sjöholm, the resources will be spent providing food, health, accommodation and so on for the migrants. So, yes, there will be a couple of new jobs created, jobs that otherwise would be unnecessary. But you can always create jobs if you spend public money on it. I know people who believe migrants create jobs are not very good at maths, so let me help you. Eu estimates in 250.000 euros the cost of each “refugee” over the period of 5 years. Lets consider now 1 million refugees which will cost 250 billion euros. This will, of course, create a couple of jobs. Now consider another option: You pay 1500 euros per month for the job of watching TV. With the same amount of money, over the same period of time you will create 2.78 MILLION jobs instead of a couple of jobs.

    • avatar
      Iván Marsh Whateley

      That’s one million formed workers . If they take your job is that you were useless. They are not taking your job away they are taking your job here not away. But there are many corporations who want to protect their big money business and they blame the poor.

    • avatar
      Waldisley Cadore Rodrigues

      It is not a zero-sum game, the more people you have, bigger will be both economic output capacity and consumption.

    • avatar
      Fernando Nabais

      Waldisley Cadore Rodrigues, You just said complete rubbish. I don’t understand why some people insist discussing issues on which they have not the slightest idea of they are saying. In fact, things are exactly the opposite of what you said. You just forgot that what matters is not the economic output but the economic output divided by the population. AND, the infrastructures divided by the population. If the population of a country increases by 10%, you need to increase the number of schools, hospitals, houses, everything in the country by 10% just to keep the same quality of life. Try to read Malthus and try to understand why China only succeeded in the development after the “one couple-one child” policy.

    • avatar
      Fernando Nabais

      Iván Marsh Whateley, they don’t take your job if you are useless. They take your job if they are happy to do it for lower wages. Lower wages mean higher profit for capitalists. Didn’t you know that “multiculturalism” is being funded by wild capitalists? In terms of economic output, for the country it is the same if you or the migrant take the job, but now there are one more mouth to feed in the country so the country gets poorer.

    • avatar
      Fernando Nabais

      Cormac Begley Dear Cormak, lets start by Malthus. Yes, I have cited Malthus an I would like you to explain why it is ridiculous. The part of Malthus work which is of interest here is just result of simple reasoning that anyone can do. Let me repeat myself because this seems to be very difficult to understand: If a country receives immigrants that are lets say 10% of the country population, just to keep the same quality of life, the country needs 10% more schools, hospitals, houses, public infrastructures and so on…. It needs 10% more of everything. Is this difficult to understand? Now, the country needs to spend the next decades building 10% of everything just to keep the same quality of life but, if meanwhile it receives another 10% of migrants the country will give another step backward and it is impossible just to maintain the initial quality of life. Try to read Malthus to understand this, which has not actually to do with economics as you assumed.

    • avatar
      Fernando Nabais

      Cormac Begley Not let me answer to your piece of propaganda which you call “solid data”. If you read this article carefully, you will find this is simply dishonest rubbish. Most of the studies are done for highly-skilled immigrants. So, conclusions CAN NOT be applied to general immigration. This is the a dishonest approach quite common in this kind of propaganda. When talking about less-skilled immigrants, author mention studies which say “natives tend to acquire more education following the arrival of less-skilled immigrants”. But this has always been happening in the last decades, natives have been acquiring more education with or without immigrants. So, conclusion is rubbish. Finally, the graphic showing that by 2035, optimistically, the “refugees” will make the German economic growth increase by 1.3%. What matters is indeed the economic growth DIVIDED by the total population. Since we are in 2017 and the “refugees” already increased the population in 1.3%, optimistically, they will make the country poorer by 2035. To this, is necessary to take into account the trillions of euros expected to be spent with “refugees”.

  2. avatar
    Imanuel d'Anjou

    european employers dont give a shit about unemployment, and the governments liberal policies forbid them from intervening in a meaningful way to get people back to work.

    Theres enough work for everyone, more than enough

    • avatar
      Imanuel d'Anjou

      if you’re asking for a location it means you don’t get the initial comment. so i’ll just say it again. i am saying that unemployed people are having their jobs KEPT AWAY from them.

    • avatar

      it’s far more complicated than that, I say they don’t affect the problem too much, the numbers are too different. But we also have too see the problem from another point of view: here in italy most of immigrants do jobsthat italian don’t want to do anymore (for example the clean houses, keep your children, dig in the farms and stuff like that) because they accept a far lower wages (most of the time illegaly), so if the italians would suddently start to like those jobs again they’ll demand an higher wage, thus the employer would not be able to afford it without raising prices, which would mean less would buy them and so on. immigrants do certain jobs that keep the economy going, so that’s not the problem.

      I don’t know about other countries though….

    • avatar
      Cormac Begley

      Exactly, unemployment is a structural necessity of capitalism

  3. avatar
    Marko Martinović

    Unemployment was bad before they arrived, now it is worse. It is a fact, there is nothing to debate about it.

    • avatar
      Marko Martinović

      False. Fake! Even if we ignore rampart crime and terrorism, excess work force does not help unemployement or wages. Also it is drain on all social programs.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      @Cormac Begley
      Your link is irrelavent, this topic is about refugees not immigrants. The so called “expert” who wrote that basis his whole case on the highly innovative and qualified immigrants that have been moving to other countries and making a successful career for themselves… this has been going on for decades and cannot be used as a basis to justify the hundreds of thousands of unskilled and unqualified refugees that are currently arriving on Europe’s shores

  4. avatar
    Julia Hadjikyriacou

    The EU needs to publically accept the reality that there are not enough jobs for evetybody and implement the guaranteed minimum income solution promoted by ethical & caring economists.

  5. avatar
    Andrea Brown

    More unemployed entering Europe means more people for the European unemployed to comete with, for an ever decreasing amount off jobs.

  6. avatar
    Andrew Potts

    The migrants will either be listed as unemployed or on a migrants program of support. Those numbers will be manipulated by the EU to promote the agenda they want to promote. this is standard.

    German politicians have sold the 1,500,000 migrants as needed to prop up a ageing population instead they could have gone to unemployment blackspots in Europe (ie youth unemployment rates in Spain) and offered the same supports and integration programs and have solved there need but also European unemployment needs too.

  7. avatar
    David Sanjuán García

    Unemploment problem is before refugee crisis. EU has aging of the population and the retirement pay will be a big problem in the future. Labor and production system have to adapt. Reduction of wages and prices is a consequence of exacerbated capitalism. People will work as craftsmen, of better quality and…higher prices? The form of work and hiring may have to be changed. Self-employment? Maybe. We over-depend on machinery and set people apart. In Spain, employers are poorly hired by skilled workers. Having a degree does not ensure quality work.

  8. avatar
    Αντρέας Πιπερίδης

    The only one who real benefits from the illegal immigration is the capital . This is something said from one of the fathers of neoliberalism Milton Friedman and not Marx. If one is not an illegal migrant but a refugee the real question here is : are money and borders above from human lives ? For conclusion the 90% of Syrian refugees have find shelter in muslim countries , I hope when Europe will be in need the neighbour countries won’t treat us like we treated them.

  9. avatar
    John Sudar

    well, they’ll be plenty of jobs if they run over enough native born europeans, to say nothing about the growth sectors such as funeral directors and grave diggers.

    • avatar
      Oliver Hauss

      Your ilk is far more productive in this, given that your love of arson is going to keep masons busy and your love for falsely accusing people of crimes will require far more police to go after the wild goose chases.

  10. avatar
    Oliver Hauss

    The vast majority of these people came to Germany. Germany just reported record employment numbers.

  11. avatar
    Domenico Cavallaro

    We must stop this criminal invasion and governments should help european families so that more EUROPEAN children will be be born!!!!

  12. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    I don’t think so, very few of them work, very few of them have the skills. This actually was part of EU stupidity – people like Merkel expected the MIGRANTS to improve the job market and fulfil it with young workers, but she and the rest of the EU idiots didn’t know how unprepared for integration this people are and how low the level of their education and working habits is.
    No they are not problem for the unemployment rate, they are and would be problem for the social systems – especially after they use the possibility and bring their big families here as well.

  13. avatar
    Dimitris Orfanoudis

    EU cannot be a phlathropic foundation…Migrants entering europe are not looking for a job but they want to stay home receiving the bonus from the governments food and acommodation and just living that way.. EU must change its imigration policy and pay more attention for its citizens who are jobless ..

    • avatar
      Cormac Begley

      Do you have any evidence to support your claims?

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Dimitris Orfanoudis
      The EU has been philanthropic since day 1!

      Look how much and how many charity contributions it has passed from the Northern EU nations to the Club Med nations.

  14. avatar
    GonEprata Megarp

    Offcourse not! Before this planned crisis europe had a LOT of people without jobs and people strugled to sustain themselfs… now after the great influx, everyone owns a bank or two :)

  15. avatar
    Boerge R. Jensen

    You are kidding, right? More than half of the refugees in Europe come to Germany. Those refugees or immigrants need homes, food, public services, transportations and more, and somebody has to build those homes and offer those goods and services.

  16. avatar
    Luca Argalia

    Of course cities are getting totally overcrowd of people ready to work without a contract

  17. avatar
    Waldisley Cadore Rodrigues

    It is not a zero-sum game, the more people you have, bigger will be both economic output capacity and consumption. Other thing, it is already crystal clear that europe need more younger people to keep economy going and keep inflation of the workers salaries under control.

    • avatar
      Tarquin Farquhar

      @Cormac Begley
      Your cited article also suggests that:

      people with low skills bigger economy lower productivity.

      Your article also fails to fully deal with the societal instability brought about when:

      the rate of immigration > the rate of assimilation

    • avatar
      Paul X

      @Cormac Begley

      Your link is irrelavent, this topic is about refugees not immigrants. The so called “expert” who wrote that basis his whole case on the highly innovative and qualified immigrants that have been moving to other countries and making a successful career for themselves… this has been going on for decades and cannot be used as a basis to justify the hundreds of thousands of unskilled and unqualified refugees that are currently arriving on Europe’s shores

  18. avatar
    Dimitris Stamiris

    if one county cannot feed there own kids ….no other kids needed !!!!
    if one county can feed them than they must except refugees

    this agreenment Called Doudlin 2
    is that clear German and friends ??
    is that clear Austria ??
    is that clear Holland ??

  19. avatar
    Faddi Zsolt

    The imperialist-capitalist-banker dogs are who are responsible for unemployment.

  20. avatar

    I can not say nothing until I see the end.
    Usually any crisis is like a chess game, you win, lose, or draw. What do you feel is happening now? You can see better the game. We win?

  21. avatar

    Well, ok. Let’s start with the obvious, immigration creates strain on civil infrastructure as it is a source of population increase. This will in return require added housing,more food production, more police force etc. So immigration creates a need for more jobs. Having said that though, even if the increased need is proportionate to the increase in provision there will be a deficit between population increase and job creation as a result of increase of demand. Also, there’s the fact that when there is a shortage of availability of workforce, higher wages can be acquired, that is simple supply and demand. So, in a situation where you have an influx of immigration where the demands on infrastructure are only partially being remedied through public spending to create more houses, doctors and so on, the house prices, food costs and so on increase (again, supply and demand) and simultaneously companies have an increase in surplus labour and can offer lower wages and still fill their job needs. So immigration may have the effect of increasing the number of jobs available, but it will never match or exceed the larger number requiring a job, and also these jobs will be paid for out of public funding, making less public money available for other things, and/or off of the extra profits saved by companies paying lower wages but being able to increase prices due to demand increases allowing them to expand their companies and offer a few extra low paid jobs and one or two very high paid managerial jobs. The effect on the unemployment level is not the problem, the problem lies within the social degradation of the less well off throughout the region, coupled with the added financial strain on public funds. Soon enough if people aren’t careful the banks and big business will own the governments for real, not just through bribery and lobbying.

    • avatar
      EU reform- proactive


      Immigration (orderly) meant “permanent”. Asylum seekers / REFUGEE “emigrants” (chaotic) meant temporary.

      Why “migrate” to immigration, when the forum question meant refugees?

  22. avatar

    Of course, besides terrorism. Some refugees used several names on multiple welfare centers and from each they collected money.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      So they are allowed to be proud to be Greek because of the way Greece is “handling ” the current immigrant crisis but other people cannot be proud of their country because of great things done in the past?…who made up the rule that pride is only allowed in the present tense?

      So athletes are not allowed to compete for the pride of their country, only the pride of their parents?

      So people who work hard (blog writing does not count) do not benefit the economy of a country and are not allowed to be proud of doing so?

      Why are people prepared to put on uniforms and get killed for their country, is it just because they have nothing better to do?

      They are welcome to the vision of a uniformly grey borderless world full of grey people with no pride, no ambition where everyone is equal (and equally dull) and competition is banned, but it is not my idea of a nice place to be

  23. avatar
    Constantinos Orphanos

    George Dimopoulos Eleni Panagakou Alexandros Vlachos Myrto Tapeinou Anastasia Qka εχει παθει MUN το debating europe

  24. avatar
    EU reform- proactive

    Why do, how can and how dare (desperate) EU politicians count their chickens before they hatched and consider “refugees” (temporary, mainly Muslim (74%) young men without enough matching females) – already as part of a “god sent” EU “immigration” solution- by assuming & guessing it “will” improve demographics in order to rescue a bankrupt pension system, “turbo boost” the economy permanently – while trading in social stability? In general it appears that different value systems are ignored & only counted in terms of numbers, cents & Euros?

    Nobody gets my vote. Maybe the nameless “others” are the real solution?

  25. avatar
    Pavel Lampa

    Most likely you get more employment for domestic population. More stuff, food, water and services are needed to feed and provide for extra 2m people. The think is WHO pays for it.

  26. avatar

    LOL, the whole debate is in italics! Why?

  27. avatar

    Well, not yet because the “refugees” have very low skills, no language skills and are not socially integrated, so they are at present mostly unemployable. However, bearing in mind the social problems we are having with migrants, including second and third generation, and their resisting cultural integration and trying to impose their culture on us, I don;t think that these people should have been encouraged to come here, regardless of the financial benefits or drawbacks.

    Nobody is reporting what they are doing in Greece, only that they are cold etc. It’s a taboo subject banned from the media.

  28. avatar

    It will, once they get off the refugee program and enter the job market.

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