In early 2015, a steep rise in migrants from the Middle East and Africa began in Europe. Settling through refugee and asylum status in Europe, and it shows no signs of abating. The traditional definition of what constitutes an actual refugee has been expanded by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (with the agreement of the EU Commission), to include not only those are fleeing war and persecution, but those that are fleeing poverty. Many anti-EU politicians have taken to calling this: Merkel’s Madness.
Historically, migration for most EU nations has been in the tens of thousands (NET), but recent figures show that the richer nations have several hundred thousand each year (the UK year on year takes in 500,000 migrants, a NET increase of around 330,000). With this major increase, there has arisen a new set of problems in terms of effective and lasting integration.
The lack of integration (and associated problems) is compounded by governmental refusal to acknowledge that such issues actually exist. The case of Sweden’s migrant issues has been making headline news all over the world. In an attempt to “assuage fears” and to “put the record straight”, the Swedish government on their website put out a “Fact from Fiction” study. It deals with many of the concerns that US citizens may also have about large scale Islamic migration. Issues such as “Increased terror attacks”, “Increased cases of rape and sexual assault”, “crime increases”, “gun crime and shootings” and “economic issues related to unemployment”…BUT, it only uses figures and statistics up to 2015.
It is a clear and deliberate attempt to show citizens their “wrong thinking” regarding immigration issues. It fails to take into account that the migrant crisis didn’t really begin in Sweden until almost 2016. So the data they present is accurate under normal immigration levels, but dishonest in light of mass migration. Statistical data, such as what was used in the study, generally has a one to two year lag on the “most recent data.” Given the delay in statistical analysis, the timing of the study would appear to be more political than informational.
Welfare and unemployment are among the largest issues facing European nations. Even before the migrant crisis, youth unemployment in southern European nations was high; this is being exacerbated by an influx of people with few skills or willingness to work. Studies suggest that in some areas, over 70% of the new arrivals will be unlikely to “ever hold a job”. State welfare includes housing, access to health and education, and money to live on; the bill is increasing and putting more pressure on already strained public services. In Sweden, it is estimated that one third of all 2017’s budget will be spent on welfare for migrants (without any actual increase in government revenue).
But for many, the larger issues are those of social cohesion. When immigration was at a lower level, integration was (if not perfect) measurably positive. The sheer numbers have negated this, leading to segregated migrant communities and “no-go zones” where even law enforcement rarely enter. While ignoring or downplaying the issues publicly, governments across Europe are looking for ways to prevent more incoming migration, up to and including building border walls.
Mark is a political writer and journalist who has worked on campaigns for Brexit.