|Breaches Appear in 'Fortress Europe'|
|Key Words||Immigration, Skilled workers, Skill shortages, Birth rates, Aging population, Taxes, Public services, Brain drain|
The Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Italy have launched a new European immigration policy. It is tough on the traffickers who try to smuggle people into the rich economies, but tender in allowing more skilled workers to enter.
It recognizes the reality of skill shortages in Europe, created by low birth rates and an aging population. Research by the UK Cabinet Office shows that immigrants are a net benefit in that they work hard, and tend to be dynamic and enterprising people. They introduce new ideas. They pay more in taxes than they consume in public services. By their very nature, they increase cultural diversity.
However, critics believe that shortages are likely to appear in unskilled positions too - low birth rates hit all occupational groups. America's experience shows the importance of unskilled immigration, albeit illegal, in filling jobs that are generally unattractive. Experts state that unless Europe opens its borders as the US has done, this century will belong to the US, as did the last.
Some - like Indian politicians - worry that immigration to the US and Europe causes a "brain drain" that damages the economies of origin. Against this, some experts point to the money that is sent home by immigrants, leading to gains comparable to exporting goods. For example, in the Philippines, an excess supply of nurses is trained in order to encourage them to work overseas.
(Updated May 1, 2001)
|Source||Diane Coyle, "Migration is not just an economic benefit - it's a basic human right," The Independent, February 8, 2001.|
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