The Disappearance of Europe

Unlike the United States, whose history as a “melting pot” has given Americans a truly multi-ethnic character, native Europeans are becoming an endangered species. But, while the EU needs high rates of immigration to sustain its standard of living, its member countries seem determined to remain anchored in the past.

BRUSSELS – What will it mean to be European 25 years from now? Unlike the United States, whose history as a “melting pot” has given Americans a truly multi-ethnic character, native Europeans are becoming an endangered species. Europe badly needs immigrants, yet is not culturally prepared to welcome them. The coming decades will therefore see substantially greater social change in Europe than elsewhere, although the nature of that change is far from clear.

At first glance, much of Europe’s current debate is about political and economic integration – about how far its nation states should go in pooling resources and sovereign powers in the European Union. But beneath the surface, the real tensions are about immigration and fears that national “cultures” are threatened by the influx of non-natives, both white and non-white.

Immigration in Europe today is running at a higher rate than in the US, with almost two million people arriving officially every year, together with an unknown number of illegal immigrants. The most conservative estimate, by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, puts the total number of newcomers to Europe between now and 2050 at 40 million. Inevitably, that sort of influx will ensure that Europe’s already vociferous right-wing extremist politicians win even greater support.

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