‘Ageing EU will need more migrants’

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (Reuters/Francois Lenoir)
Over the next 30 years, the EU will need more migrants to fill gaps in its labor market, says Prof. Heaven Crawley, UK migration policy expert. The EU has a choice, to use the migrants’ influx for its own benefit or create barriers & stir up xenophobia.

RT:The UK's Home Secretary has attacked the proposal even before it was officially released, saying such quotas would only attract migrants. Is she right?

Heaven Crawley Chair in International Migration at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University: No, there is absolutely no evidence at all that these policies are bringing migrants to Europe. The reasons migrants are coming to Europe are two-fold. One is that there are many forced migrants particularly from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia who are unable to live in their countries because of the conflict in those regions and so they are moving to try to find safety. But we also have large numbers of economic migrants, who’ve moved from other areas of Sub-Saharan Africa to places like Libya and because of the breakdown of the economy and society more generally in Libya they are no longer able to stay in Libya. So it’s these push factors which are driving people towards Europe more than any kind of pull from the possibility of what is supposedly on offer.

READ MORE: Forcibly return some Mediterranean migrants to home countries – May

RT:Xenophobic crimes have risen sharply in Germany in the past year, according to a newly-released Interior Ministry report. And far-right movements are on the rise all across the block. Won't housing more migrants only increase tensions?

HC: There is always going to be a problem [no matter] how you manage this situation but much of this is about the political management as much as anything else.Because we know that economically the EU has an aging population. It has a demographic crisis ahead. Over the next 20-30 years we will as a continent need more migrants. And so we have an alternative here, we can manage this situation to our own benefit ultimately or we can keep putting up these barriers and creating the illegal regular flows which thenmake people more anxious, they create these opportunities for ISIS and others involved… And they also do exactly what you are suggesting, which is creating more anxiety and xenophobia in the public. So we have to have a different narrative on migration. We have to explain to people the reasons why we have people coming across the Mediterranean and the fact that actually in the longer term we are going to need those people to fill the gaps in our own labor market. We are going to benefit from those people and that’s not the story we are hearing at the moment.

READ MORE: West turning Mediterranean into mass grave

RT:Brussels will also establish a new force targeting traffickers in the Mediterranean. Do you think that will help to halt the migrant influx?

HC: No, I don’t. There is absolutely no evidence that a military intervention here is going to be successful. There are numerous reasons as to why this is a problem. One is that there is no coherent set of smugglers and traffickers who can easily be identified and picked off. Many of these people are people who have lost their livelihoods because of the breakdown of law or order in Libya… and they are now resorting to this trade in order to be able in some case maybe leave… Now if you attack those people you are inevitably not only going to attack the traffickers, the smugglers, you are going to kill innocent people or migrants who are using their services in order to seek safety… As long as there is a demand from the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa or in the Middle East for movement across the Mediterranean people will find a way. So it’s only a matter of time before those migrant smugglers set up somewhere else.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.