In 2020, more than one fifth of the EU population were 65 or older. The share of people in the European Union aged 80+ is projected to more than double between 2020 and 2100, from 5.9% to 14.6%. Will a shrinking working age population be able to support a growing cohort of pensioners? Confronted by this ticking demographic timebomb, what is the solution? Will technology and automation provide an answer? Can birthrates be boosted? Or does ageing Europe need more migrants?

What do our readers think? First up, can we move beyond racism when we discuss immigration to Europe? We had a comment come in from Josh, who told us his personal story of immigration:

I am an immigrant and a European citizen; I hold an Australian as well as Irish passport. I even overstayed on my visa for 6 months on accident, I turned up to the police station to renew it – nobody cared. I fell on hard times around then too, we had to accept charity and welfare to stay in our house. Nobody came and said I was just some lazy immigrant for doing so. Nobody ever built a wall to keep me out.

Is it because I’m middle class? Speak English? Am white? I conform to your prejudice of what is ‘European’ despite being a naturalised citizen and not a born European? The issue here isn’t that immigrants are a problem. It’s the ‘wrong sort’ of immigrants, who maybe have less money or a different skin colour.

Is Josh right? How much of the immigration debate in Europe is being driven by racism? To get a response, we put Josh’s comment to the panel during a recent Friends of Europe event on Confronting the EU’s ‘Great Migration Muddle’. We got a response to Josh from Giles Merritt, Founder of Friends of Europe and author of the book “People Power: Why We Need More Migrants”.

Also responding to Josh was Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania (2009-2019) and a former European Commissioner (2004-2009).

Next up, we had a comment from Nefeli, arguing that what immigrants need most in order to join the labour market is language support:

Image of a citizenWe mostly need language support and not obligation. Most of the immigrants want to learn the language of the place where we live but it is often hard… With the correct infrastructure it would not take more than a few months for an educated person to be capable of communication in the new language. A year or so and we could be fluent. We don’t need laws to prevent people from entering. We need weekend classes to help them strive!

Finally, we had a comment from David, who told us his story:

Image of a citizenI am the child of a Vietnamese political refugee, otherwise known as the ‘boat people’. My parents came with nothing but the clothes on them and now have 3 tax-paying professionals as children.

I would say integration of refugees needs to be recognised as both an economic and social policy issue. As such, any policy should be fully integrated in this way. 3 practical implications (amongst many others) for policymakers, given that the assumption is that refugees have been appropriately screened for national security:

1. Focus on social inclusion through language and culture classes to help integrate them into society.

2. International cooperation. Encourage countries to play their part in taking refugees/contributing to cost of refugee camps until a well-thought out integration plan can be implemented.

3. Understand current skills of refugees then map these to vacancies in labour market. Then have a long-term perspective around how low skilled refugees (or refugees with less relevant skills to jobs available) could be trained to give employers skills they’re looking for.

We put Nefeli and David’s comments to Anne Kjær Bathel, CEO & Co-Founder of the ReDI School of Digital Integration in Germany. For another perspective, we also put them to Giorgos Stefanidis, Local Coordinator of the Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS) in Greece.

You can see their responses in the video at the top of this post.

Does ageing Europe need more young migrants? How much of the immigration debate in Europe is being driven by racism? Should governments invest more in language classes for migrants? Should Europe have a long-term plan for migrant labour market integration? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by Chastagner Thierry on Unsplash
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.



47 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Karel

    No, we need more Europeans by having more families with more than 1 child.

    • avatar
      Francis

      there is no such thing as Europeans ‘ find your remark insulting

    • avatar
      Karel

      Well, I cannot write “we need more Scottish, Basks, Flemish …” can I? Not enough space.

    • avatar
      Francis

      humans will all mix together one day

    • avatar
      Boyko

      being European is insulting? Well, live with it, that’s who we are. And we’ll stay.

    • avatar
      Francis

      here in the UK is a good example of globalisation ‘

    • avatar
      Ivaylo

      I prefer the world not globalized, still united

    • avatar
      Francis

      dont you want to travel freely ? Birds do

    • avatar
      Ivaylo

      as a tourist yes, but that has nothing in common with the globalization you are talking about.
      I think every culture is unique, because it is shared between people from the same nation.
      Globalization in the meaning of your understanding would destroy the cultures as we know them

    • avatar
      Francis

      & bring folk together ‘ i am hopping for a road railway from Beijing to London

  2. avatar
    Boyko

    No, Europe needs more incentives for families.

    • avatar
      Francis

      most europeans more interested in material possesions & wealth than babies

    • avatar
      Boyko

      that should change. More so, with the green deal insanity, the “young migrants” will soon prefer to go elsewhere.

    • avatar
      Francis

      i want to live in a clean enviroment ‘ dont you ?

  3. avatar
    Крис

    I love how you ask if Europe needs migrants from all part of the world but not more European families. That’s exactly how propaganda works.

  4. avatar
    Alfredo

    No, more sons and daughters.

  5. avatar
    Olivier

    No we need family policy and incentive for second and third children to have more young native Europeans. We fon t need young Muslims migrants who cost a lot and import a lot of problems with exogen culture and habits

  6. avatar
    Francis

    Whats europe ? & no such thing as migrant

  7. avatar
    EU-Reform Proactive

    DE:…. what is the solution?

    Better: what ARE or could be SOME acceptable solutions derived through a process worthy for all European States who need to prove that they are well informed but truly democratic & still sovereign as well?

    Because:
    “Europe” is not governed (yet) by a small group of political lobbyists like e.g. Giles Merritt and/or other minorities, regardless if their points are valid or not.

    Q: Will a shrinking working-age population be able to support a growing cohort of pensioners?
    A: No! Except all are millionaires & entirely independent from the present social system which relies solely on tax revenue collections & their fair distributions.

    Q: Will technology and automation provide an answer?
    A: Yes, to some extent. However, this extent remains unknown.

    Q: Can birth rates be boosted?
    A: Yes, if there are attractive incentives (state policies) & the young generation are consulted & given attractive choices.

    Q: Or does ageing Europe need more migrants?
    A: Yes, the sourcing to overcome any (permanent & serious) skills shortage in any of the European countries should be left to be decided in each sovereign state having such shortage.

    However, these States need to shoulder the success or failure of their policies until all legal migrants are fully integrated into the European way of life to avoid instabilities & ghettos of no go areas.

    The “All welcome” approach by former née “Angela Dorothea Kasner- Merkel is not a solution & to be condemned.

    Should migration overwhelm or distort a nation’s character- this is a serious political issue and to become a top priority item for every political party- being only- “Friends of”- or deeply rooted & patriotic Europeans!

    Influencers from American websites and past successful American policies are not good examples of how “Europe” should develop or behave in future.

  8. avatar
    Boyko

    No, Europe needs more incentives for families.

  9. avatar
    Крис

    I love how you ask if Europe needs migrants from all part of the world but not more European families. That’s exactly how propaganda works.

  10. avatar
    Francis

    Whats europe ? & no such thing as migrant

  11. avatar
    Olivier

    No we need family policy and incentive for second and third children to have more young native Europeans. We fon t need young Muslims migrants who cost a lot and import a lot of problems with exogen culture and habits

  12. avatar
    Alfredo

    No, more sons and daughters.

  13. avatar
    Karel

    No, we need more Europeans by having more families with more than 1 child.

  14. avatar
    Lili

    No! Emigrants often do not get easily integrated. They are often a burden on the society for many years or decades.

  15. avatar
    Любомир

    No, it needs more young Europeans! Europe is Europe because of its people!

  16. avatar
    George

    But like that. We need clear path of immigration which are manily working and studying.

  17. avatar
    golf

    Hello, everything is going nicely here and ofcourse
    every one is sharing data, that’s really excellent, keep up writing.

  18. avatar
    Olivier

    Absolutely not. We need a strong family policy like in hungary…

  19. avatar
    Julia

    It is obvious that this is what the business-serving EU wants. More desperate cheap labour, more taxpayers.

  20. avatar
    Yannick

    Mm this fascination with growth has to stop. If we want to sustain life and quality of life, we should aim for stabilising population and economic activity.

    • avatar
      Olivier

      in africa india and south america yes.. Europe population is decreasing

  21. avatar
    JT HK

    Aging population can also lead to the growth of new type of economic growth as Europe normally has rather good retirement scheme. Old people might not necessarily a burden. Besides, in this new IT era, import of cheap labour is only to solve the problem through outdated capitalist exploitation of the late developed countries. This would kill innovation on problem solving. Old mentality would never be able to catch up with the rapid changing new world.

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