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A vanishing Europe and lifestyle [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2008-6-17 21:55:11 |Display all floors
An interesting Op-Ed  about Europe's future from todays's 'Japan Times':


A vanishing Europe and lifestyle


By GILES MERRITT

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 multiethnic 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 granting sovereign powers to the European Union. But beneath the surface, the real tensions are about immigration and fears that national "cultures" are threatened by the influx of nonnatives, both white and nonwhite.

Immigration in Europe today is running at a higher rate than in the U.S., with almost 2 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 rightwing extremist politicians win even greater support. The specter of rising racial tensions is worrying enough. But this is just one aspect of why Europe urgently needs to import people from Africa and Asia.

Europeans will see the dismantling of their welfare states and social security systems, and the cherished "European model" of pensions, health care and unemployment benefits, being replaced by the despised and widely feared "American model." This is not, needless to say, because Europeans crave the rigors of America's less cosseted social conditions, but because it's the only way that European governments will be able to stay afloat financially.

The root cause of all these developments is Europe's population shrinkage. The "demographic time bomb" that economic analysts have been discussing for a decade or more is now exploding. The result is widespread labor shortages in many EU countries and an alarming reduction in the proportion of working-age people whose taxes pay the pensions and medical costs of those who have retired.

Many countries have themselves aggravated the problem, either by encouraging early retirement or — as with France — through job-creation nostrums like the 35-hour working week.

About one-third of male workers in Europe quit their jobs by their early 50s. That, together with two generations in which birthrates across Europe have dropped well below the two-children-per-couple replacement rate, and what the European Commission describes as "spectacular" increases in longevity, means that by 2050, instead of four workers supporting each retiree, there will be only two.

In short, European policymakers are in an impossible position. The political mind-set in most EU countries remains firmly focused on unemployment as the chief ill to be cured, whereas the real threat is the worsening shortage of people to fill job vacancies. The European Commission has warned that this will put a lower ceiling on GDP growth rates.

According to Klaus Regling, the Commission's director general for economic and financial affairs, Europe's working population has so shrunk that, from 2010 onward, maximum annual economic growth in Western Europe will drop to 1.8 percent, from an average of 2.3 percent in recent years, and to just 1.3 percent a year from 2030.

Economic stagnation on this scale has alarming implications, because it means less and less tax revenues to fund all the reform projects and infrastructural investments Europe badly needs to regain its productivity and high-tech competitive edge.

And if things look bad for Western Europe, they're worse for the EU's formerly communist newcomers, whose demographic trends imply that average potential growth will nosedive from today's healthy 4.3 percent per year to just 0.9 percent after 2030.

Much of Europe already suffers from under-performing labor markets in which job-seekers and would-be employers either can't or won't find one another.

Stubbornly high youth unemployment, along with Europe's dwindling numbers of school-leavers, is already canceling out the positive effects of immigration. Here in Brussels, where the largely North African immigrant population comprises a quarter of the city's inhabitants, hotels and restaurants recently resorted to an emergency online recruitment service to counter their worsening staff shortages. The manpower crisis is even more acute in sectors that demand greater skills.

Like the U.S., Europe's manpower-related difficulties are accentuated by the rise of India and China. How Europeans, and to a lesser extent Americans, will maintain their high standards of living is anyone's guess.

But Europe's problem is greater, for its politicians are at a loss to cope with the high-voltage issues of race, religion and ethnicity in societies that seem determined to remain anchored in the past.

Giles Merritt is secretary general of the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe and editor of the policy journal Europe's World. © 2008 Project Syndicate (www.project-syndicate.org)

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Post time 2008-6-17 22:26:14 |Display all floors
Hi Satsu_

Like to hear your comment on "Arabisation" or "Islamosation" of Europe?

Do you think this will create more tension in demographic time bomb?

European christian tradition face challenge from its biblical adversary, the other Abrahamic monotheism, Islam.

The voters from this group haven't effectively influenced their adoptive country's policy, but is it possible in the future?

Please share yours.
师夷长技以制夷

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Post time 2008-6-18 04:43:04 |Display all floors
Europe has always been subject to mass migrations, Voelkerwanderung and what-have-you: east to west, west to east, north to south and south to north.

Back in ancient Rome over 2000 years ago, the Romans were really worried about the migration habits of the teutonic tribes (I don't think you can call them Germans at that point in history). Wars were fought over that, the ancient Romans simply didn't want the teutonic tribes crossing the Alps. Didn't stop the ancient Romans from spreading their genes though.

I think the concern some people have is the "disappearance" of the European "race" as such. Certainly, one does see a lot of North Africans, Indians and Pakistanis going to Europe for economic opportunities but they tend to alleviate the skills shortage problem.

Oddly enough, this is a problem Japan faces as well. Falling birth rates means the Japanese society is getting older. Immigrants from Korea and Vietnam find it difficult to integrate. It can be remarkably difficult for migrants to integrate into a totally different culture when the mindset of the people is borderline xenophobic.

I answer this post because someone brought up the subject of Obama becoming president and, obliquely asked the question how it will affect Chinese. 7% of the population in USA may be Asians (Asian in the American rather than the British sense), and outside major cities there are not a lot of us. Does this mean the "European" component of America will will continue shrinking, as in Europe?

Does it matter? How so?

Sometimes, I think the human race is a dead-end evolution the way we are destroying the environment and brought about  the extinction of so many species.
Let the dice fly high

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Post time 2008-6-18 05:20:31 |Display all floors
Race isn't an issue, culture is, and the US is one of very few countries--in fact, the only large one--which is able to adequately assimilate new immigrants and also take on the best of what they bring with them. So the "European component", so far as it matters, is fine.
"Justice prevails... evil justice."

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Post time 2008-6-18 15:14:29 |Display all floors
Originally posted by northwest at 2008-6-17 23:26
Hi Satsu_

Like to hear your comment on "Arabisation" or "Islamosation" of Europe?

Do you think this will create more tension in demographic time bomb?

European christia ...


Like to hear your comment on "Arabisation" or "Islamosation" of Europe?




NW,

I can only comment from a German or French position. I wouldn't call it Arabisation but indeed there are many immigrants from the Maghreb nations (Tunesia, Algeria and Morocco) in France and from Turkey (def, a non Arab but Muslim state) in Germany. To integrate these people is very difficult mainly because they themselves prefer not to form too close bonds with their compatriots (in France) or their host nation (in Germany). It also doesn't help if a Turkish PM on a state visit in Germany promotes Turkish schools for his compatriots. This would even further widen the gap between them and the Germans. Contrary to nations such as Canada, Australia, the US etc., European countries are traditionally non immigrant nations. I believe it will take more than another generation to change the mindset of the majority of continental Europeans.

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Post time 2008-6-18 20:02:52 |Display all floors
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Post time 2008-6-18 20:05:10 |Display all floors
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