Without migrants, Europe's economic and social model is in danger

On 13 December 2018, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an own-initiative opinion on the costs of non-immigration and non-integration. It focuses on the impact of immigration and of migrants' integration on daily life in EU society.

"Let's change the EU narrative on migration by putting forward real arguments," says Pavel Trantina, rapporteur for the opinion. He maintains that myths can best be debunked by using fact-based knowledge.

According to the opinion, a non-immigration scenario in Europe would result in a decline in agricultural production, the collapse of industries, tension in the job markets, an unsustainable pension and healthcare system, depopulation in rural areas and the undermining of social cohesion.

Migration cannot work well if migrants are not properly integrated in the host society. In its opinion, the EESC identifies the following risks and costs in the event of a "migrant non-integration" scenario: non-validation of migrants' qualifications and surge in undeclared work; lack of equality and adequate access to services; spatial segregation that could ultimately culminate in ghettoisation; increase in crime rates; rise of racism, xenophobia and support for extreme ideologies (in both migrant communities and the host society).

The EESC argues that "investment in migrant integration is the best insurance policy against potential future costs, problems and tensions".

"It is necessary to infuse social debate with reasons and data to counteract the fake news and stereotypes about migration", adds José Antonio Moreno Díaz, co-rapporteur for the opinion. "Let’s show EU societies what immigrants are adding now and are expected to add in the near future to our societies. This is a collective and common task where all civil society sectors must be involved."

Against the background of the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakesh, Morocco, the EESC's call on Member States to restore to migration its importance and meaning is becoming even more pertinent. Extremist forces should not be allowed to turn migration into a problem: migration is a resource, and it is up to Member States to use it accordingly. (ddl)