Europeans should think more about the potential contributions refugees and other migrants can make, and not over-emphasise problems related to their arrival.
That was the message from a Friends of Europe Policy Insight debate on 29 March, which focussed on the integration of the unprecedented number of refugees and asylum-seekers who have arrived in Europe recently. The 2.3 million new refugees represent only about 0.45% of the total population of the European Union. But the influx has unleashed populist sentiments, which have put into question Europe’s ability and willingness to absorb the newcomers.
But there is little evidence of any economic harm arising from the migrants’ arrival. On the contrary, they are arriving at a time when some countries are experiencing a labour shortage. The money they send to their countries of origin help those economies – lessening the probability of the kind of crisis that drove them out in the first place.
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