Migrants from Macedonia waiting to register with authorities in Europe. IFRC/Flickr

Europe Still Needs the Migrants

Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris are likely to compound Europe’s deep divisions over how to respond to its refugee and migrant crisis. But calls for a new “Fortress Europe” risk making it harder than ever to convey the economic case for integrating more newcomers into the EU’s workforce.

BRUSSELS – Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris are likely to compound Europe’s deep divisions over how to respond to its refugee and migrant crisis, particularly given reports that one of the perpetrators arrived amid the ongoing influx. But calls for the reintroduction of border controls and a new “Fortress Europe” risk giving Europe’s demagogues the lead and making it harder than ever to convince people of the need to integrate more newcomers into the European Union’s workforce.

The climate of fear that the attacks have created threatens to obscure a key statistic: unless EU countries open their doors wider to immigration, the current ratio of four working-age people for every pensioner will fall to 2:1 by mid-century, if not earlier. Pension and social security systems are already under severe strain.

Nobody denies that this year’s wave of migration is overwhelming some EU countries, and that solidarity among them is crumbling. But the truth is that the European economy badly needs the young people pouring across its frontiers from the greater Middle East and Africa.

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