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October 2016, Volume 22, Number 4

Europe, Asia, Africa

The major migration developments in Europe in summer 2016 revolved around migrants attempting to reach Italy by boat from Libya, integrating Syrian and other migrants who arrived in 2015 in Germany, and dealing with the fallout from the Brexit vote that was motivated in part by fears of too much intra-EU migration.

Over 300,000 migrants reached the EU in the first nine months of 2016, including 25,000 in July. Over 7,000 were rescued on August 29, 2016 in an operation led by the Italian navy. Over 3,000 migrants died, usually when boats departing from Libya sank. The major nationalities of migrants arriving in Italy in 2016 were Nigeria and Eritrea.

The EU promised Turkey E6 billion ($6.6 billion) and visa-free access for Turks in exchange for accepting the return of all migrants who reach Greek islands from Turkey after March 20, 2016. For each migrant returned to Turkey, EU member states will accept one migrant who did not try to reach Greece illegally by boat. The EU in July 2016 proposed an incentive plan to give member states E10,000 for each refugee they accept from camps in Turkey and elsewhere.

This one-for-one policy initially reduced migration from Greece to Turkey to less than 1,500 in June 2016, down from 1,700 in May and 3,650 in April. A peak of almost 211,700 migrants arrived on Greek islands from Turkey in October 2015, or over 7,000 a day. Despite an attempted coup in Turkey July 15, 2016, the EU considers Turkey a country safe enough to return asylum seekers.

Greece has been slow to return migrants to Turkey, prompting over 1,000 to arrive on Greek islands in September 2016. With fewer migrants attempting to depart from the Turkish coast, smugglers reduced their charges from $1,500 to $500 per migrant.

Over 160,000 migrants arrived in Greece in the first eight months of 2016, and over 100,000 arrived in Italy. The EU promised to resettled 160,000 migrants from these front-line states to other EU member states.

Egypt in September 2016 said that it had five million migrants and refugees, 10 percent Syrians, and blamed the EU-Turkey agreement for diverting migrants to Egypt.

Some 177,000 Afghanis applied for asylum in EU countries in 2015. Over half of their applications were denied, and the EU and Afghanistan reached an agreement in October 2016 to expedite the return of rejected Afghanis at a meeting during which donors pledged $3.75 billion to support the rebuilding of the country.

The 25 Schengen states, 22 EU states plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, agreed to allow Georgians to enter Schengen without visas. Visa-free travel is being negotiated with Kosovo, Ukraine and Turkey, with snap-back provisions so that visa requirements can be imposed quickly if there is an upsurge in migration.

Integration. About 1.4 million foreigners arrived in EU member states to seek asylum in 2015, including 95,985 (seven percent) who were unaccompanied minors under 18. The European Asylum Support Office in July 2016 reported that 960,000 asylum seekers were waiting for a final decision on their applications. The EASO says that many applicants must wait months to file their applications and then wait for a hearing.

Tourism, which accounts for about 10 percent of the EU's economy, suffered in the wake of terrorist attacks in France and Germany in July 2016. France attracted 84 million tourists in 2015; tourism began to slump after the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris. More attacks helped to keep tourists away.

Over 98 percent of the Hungarian voters who voted in October 2016 rejected an EU plan to assign 160,000 asylum seekers arriving in front-line states by quota to the various member states, including 1,000 to Hungary. The vote was not valid because the turnout was only 40 percent, but PM Viktor Orban said the vote reinforced his government's position that Hungary will not accept any EU-relocated asylum seekers. As of July 2016, only 3,000 of the planned 160,000 asylum seekers in Greece and Italy had been resettled.

Brexit. Britons voted 52-48 percent to leave the EU in June 2016. All parts of the UK voted to leave except Northern Ireland, Scotland and London.

The highest pro-Brexit vote was in Boston, a city of 76,000 where 76 percent voted to leave the EU. Poles dominate among the 10 percent of Boston residents who are foreigners, filling jobs in agriculture and food-related business. By July 2016, some foreigners in Boston reported that they were receiving "have you packed your bags" leaflets, while others received emails from their employers urging them to become naturalized British citizens and stay.

In October 2016, the Home Secretary suggested that employers may have to begin reporting how many non-British workers they hire, the first step toward a hire-British-first policy.

There was continued commentary on the wide gulf between the openness of elites to migration and the desire of masses for fewer migrants. So-called cosmopolitan elites often see immigration as a common good based on universal rights, while more nationalistic masses want to offer migration as a gift only to certain outsiders deemed worthy of joining what they perceive to be "their community." This elite-mass divide is evident in migration as well as trade and other global flows, and can be used as a wedge issue by nationalist and populist leaders.

Elites often speak of the rights of migrants and refugees, saying that they must be accepted and integrated because of UN human rights conventions. Masses see control of borders as fundamental to sovereignty, and resent faraway elites and UN agencies telling them to accept migrants.

Denmark. Some 36,000 mostly Muslim asylum seekers arrived in 2015 and 2016, raising tensions and questions about integration. The native-born share of the 5.7 million people dropped from 97 percent in 1980 to 88 percent in 2015. Newcomers are concentrated in Aarhus and Copenhagen.

At the urging of the second-largest political party, the Danish People's Party, the government reduced integration benefits for new migrants and enacted a rarely-enforced law in January 2016 that allows confiscation of valuables to pay for integration costs. About 48 percent of immigrants from non-Western countries were employed in 2014, compared to 74 percent of Danes, raising fears of migrants taking advantage of a social welfare system that offers high benefits but expects those who can to work.

France. Some five million French residents are Muslims, and the government is grappling with the threat of terrorism posed by Muslims who are French citizens. After 85 people were killed in Nice on Bastille day, July 14, 2016, the government extended a state of emergency giving police more powers and used the army to patrol streets and beaches.

Nice in summer 2016 banned women from wearing full-body, head-covering garments called burkinis on its beaches, an amalgam of burqa and bikini, saying that burkini wearers could be difficult to rescue with so much clothing. Other local governments followed, taking steps that some call discriminatory against Muslims in the name of laicite, the French term for separation of church and state in 1905. A 2010 law bans face-covering burqa veils in public and head scarves in state elementary and high schools.

France's highest administrative court in August 2016 overturned burkini bans, saying they violated civil liberties and that cities imposing them failed to show they posed a threat to public order. Most burkini bans were in effect only until the end of the tourism season in mid-September.

The French government maintains so-called S-Files on about 10,000 French citizens and others who are considered terror threats. Some politicians have called for S-File individuals to be detained as a precautionary measure, but most polls show little support for preventive detention.

The so-called Jungle camp in Calais, which has 10,000 migrants trying to stowaway onto trucks headed for Britain via the Eurotunnel, will be closed by the end of 2016. Camp residents are to be moved to locations around France, but some of the 1,000 children in the camp may be allowed to join relatives in the UK.

Germany. The federal government plans a E330 billion budget for 2017, with almost 60 percent devoted to social spending. Germany's budget for 2017 includes E19 billion ($21 billion) to deal with migrants in Germany and the root causes of migration abroad.

Germany spends E10,000 to E12,000 per year on each asylum seeker. Total federal spending to house, feed and train migrants in Germany and on migration-related projects abroad is projected to be E94 billion ($103 billion) between 2015 and 2020. Germany's 16 states plan to spend an additional E21 billion on migrants in 2015.

Germany provided $6 billion in welfare benefits to 975,000 asylum seekers in 2015, more than double the $2.7 billion spent in 2014. Two-thirds of the recipients were men with an average age of 25; a third were Syrians and an eighth were Afghanis. Additional funds were spent on rejected asylum seekers who cannot be deported.

Since August 6, 2016, recognized refugees must live in the state to which they were first assigned for three years unless they are working or studying elsewhere or risk losing welfare benefits. Many Syrians and others who received asylum moved to Ruhr-area cities such as Essen, which has relatively low-cost apartments but leads to complaints from local city officials.

The German government in October 2016 proposed that migrants from other EU states who have never worked in Germany can be denied social and unemployment benefits for their first five years in Germany. Under EU freedom of movement rules, EU nationals can move to another EU country and seek work on an equal basis with citizens, but their right to welfare has been contested.

About 15 million EU nationals live outside their country of citizenship, and 30 percent of these intra-EU migrants are not employed in the country where they live. Under current rules, EU host nations may deny welfare benefits for the first three months of an intra-EU migrant's stay, and job seekers after 90 days must prove they have a genuine chance of finding a job in the host country to receive benefits. Some 440,000 intra-EU migrants received welfare benefits in January 2016 in Germany, about 12 percent of the intra-EU migrants in the country.

Getting the migrants who arrived in 2015 into jobs is proving difficult. Most have secondary schooling or less, and few speak German well enough to be hired as regular employees. The government says that 60 percent are qualified only for entry-level jobs, compared with a sixth who could be specialists.

Germany in April 2016 enacted a new integration law that requires asylees to participate in language and culture classes or receive less government support; the new law also promised 100,000 new working opportunities in so-called one Euro jobs, jobs that pay E1 an hour in addition to welfare benefits. The requirement that German employers give preference to Germans or EU citizens to fill vacancies is suspended for three years to encourage employers to hire migrants.

The government revised the number of asylum seekers arriving in 2015 from 1.1 million to 890,000, saying that some registered multiple times. Some 210,000 new asylum seekers arrived in the first nine months of 2016.

Alternative for Germany (AfD), which opposes immigration, could be the third largest party in 2017 elections, behind the CDU-CSU and the SPD. In September 2017, the AfD won 21 percent of the vote in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, more than the CDU at 19 percent but less than the SPD's 30 percent share of the vote.

In July 2016, the German Parliament unanimously approved a "no means no" (neinheisstnein) anti-rape law, which makes groping women a criminal offense. The law was spurred by attacks on 600 women near the Cologne train station on New Year's Eve at the end of 2015 by up to 2,000 men, most North Africans who arrived in 2015.

In July 2016, there were several terrorist attacks in Bavaria, prompting state officials to urge more detentions and faster removals of failed asylum seekers. In response, Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated her August 31, 2015 "wir schaffen das" commitment to accept asylum seekers and to integrate them. Merkel promised new security measures to protect Germans, but Bavarian state officials continue to push for a cap of 200,000 asylum seekers a year.

In August 2016, Merkel's government unveiled plans to hire more police and make it easier to deport convicted foreign criminals. Migrants arriving without documents would have to allow authorities to search their mobile phones, and persons with dual German and foreign citizenship could lose their German citizenship if they fight for terrorists abroad.

German states are responsible for deporting rejected asylum seekers. Over 20,000 foreigners were deported in 2015, and almost 14,000 in the first half of 2016, mostly to Balkan countries such as Albania. Some 220,000 foreigners are under deportation orders, which can be defied by claiming medical reasons to stay or by destroying documents, since most countries will accept the return only of citizens.

Greece. Greece had 57,000 asylum seekers in August 2016, and was processing the 21,000 who registered. The Greek government has been slow to add staff, and legal challenges have delayed returning foreigners to Turkey who arrived on Greek islands from Turkey after March 20, 2016.

Over 10,000 migrants arrived on Greek islands between March 20 and August 20, 2016, and fewer than 500 were returned to Turkey. More began arriving after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Greece, where the unemployment rate is 25 percent and over 50 percent for youth 15-24, is in the midst of a third major emigration wave. The first outflow between 1907 and 1917 involved 400,000 migrants who moved mostly to Canada and the US. The second wave in the 1960s sent over a million Greeks to Germany and Belgium as guest workers, although many later returned to Greece.

Today's third wave involves educated Greeks who cannot find jobs at home. Unlike previous emigrants who were low-skilled, today's emigrants are university graduates who move to Germany, the UAE and the UK. Since Greece does not charge tuition and prohibits private colleges, the Greek state is losing its investment in emigrants.

Italy. Italy became the main arrival point for migrants in 2016, receiving over 130,000 in the first nine months, including 7,000 who were rescued in an operation led by the Italian Navy on August 29, 2016. Italy registers migrants and gives them a week to apply for asylum, but many leave for other EU countries.

Italy is the EU's economic laggard, growing an average of one percent a year between 1996 and 2011, behind Germany, 1.4 percent; France, 1.8 percent; and Spain, 2.6 percent. Italy's unemployment rate is almost 12 percent, and 36 percent for youth, and public debt is 135 percent of GDP.

Italy has E360 billion in bad loans, a third of the eurozone total. Italian banks continue to lend to loss-making firms, leading some to suggest that Italy is headed for 1990s Japanese-style stagnation. Greece is the other eurozone country where banks continue to lend to loss-making firms even if they have little hope of becoming profitable again.

PM Matteo Renzi, who took office in February 2014 and enacted laws increasing the flexibility of Italian labor markets, also changed the electoral system in a bid to produce more stable governments; since WWII, Italian governments have averaged less than a year in office. Under the new system of voting for the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies, the top party getting more than 40 percent of the vote will get a majority of 340 seats.

A December 4, 2016 constitutional referendum aims to reduce the 315-seat Senate to 100 seats and curb the ability of the Senate to initiate and block legislation. Renzi said he will step down if the referendum fails.

Turkey. Turkey hosts about 2.7 million of the 4.5 million Syrians outside Syria. Most live in Turkish cities; only about 300,000 live in camps.

On July 15, 2016, the military mounted a short-lived coup attempt. Afterward, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish imam who has been living in Pennsylvania since 1999, and called on the US to extradite him. In Turkey, some 10,000 civil servants were arrested and 100,000 were suspended, including many judges and prosecutors who were accused of supporting Gulen.

Erdogan believes that some civil servants pledged their support to Gulen rather than the Turkish state, and wants to purge them from the government. Critics fear that the purge of suspected Gulenists will become an excuse to silence political opponents.

Gulf. Gulf oil exporters are seeking to diversify their economies away from oil. Increasing tourism is one option, as demonstrated by Dubai's Expo 2020 and Qatar's hosting of the World Cup in 2022. Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 is a governmental effort to move away from reliance on profits earned by Saudi Aramco and Sabic and develop non-energy sectors of the economy.

Saudi Arabia's population doubled between 1990 and 2015, half of Saudis are under 25, and 30,000 Saudis enter the labor force each year. The Saudi government aims to reduce its budget deficit by increasing visa fees and fines and raising a variety of taxes and fees.

The price of oil was about half of its summer 2014 level in summer 2016, which reduced government revenues and payments to the private firms that hire most of the 10 million migrant workers employed in Saudi Arabia. Several construction firms in Saudi Arabia stopped paying wages to migrant workers in summer 2016 and cut off money for housing and food, stranding tens of thousands of workers who are owed back wages.

In August 2016, the Saudi government announced a $25 million fund to provide food for workers whose employers have stopped paying them and for air tickets home. Many migrants are reluctant to leave without their full wages because they fear that they will never receive back wages and end-of-service bonuses if they go home with only promises to pay.

The Saudi economy has half of the construction projects in the region. The Saudi government could take over failing private construction firms and pay the back wages owed workers, and could eliminate the kafala system that requires each foreigner to have a sponsor to enter and leave the country. Saudi Oger Ltd, one of Saudi Arabia's largest construction firms, was in the spotlight for failing to pay wages, not renewing worker permits, and not providing food for workers it employed and housed.

Saudi Arabia's Almarai, founded in 1977 and now with 180,000 dairy cows, is an example of the struggles to find viable businesses and to substitute Saudis for migrants. Almarai employs 40,000 workers, including 20 percent Saudis. An Irish manager imports alfalfa from land owned or leased abroad, but rising input prices may reduce the production of milk in the desert.

China. Manufacturing wages have been rising, to an average $425 a month, which is pushing some factories to leave for lower-cost Vietnam, where wages average $200 a month, and Bangladesh, where wages are less than $100 a month. Given higher productivity, transportation, and other costs, some say that the cost of manufacturing in China and the US is closing rapidly.

China remains the number one source of products that range from shoes and clothing to electronics, but its share of manufactured goods is falling as production increases in other Asian countries with lower wages and in industrial countries with robots.

Bangladesh. Bangladesh sent 555,000 workers abroad in 2015, when remittances totaled $18 billion, including monies sent home informally. The major export of Bangladesh is readymade garments, an industry that employs four million workers and whose exports were $25 billion in 2015, but which required $15 billion worth of imports such as cloth and other items. Some say that exports of people are worth more to Bangladesh than exports of garments, ignoring the significant investment in raising children to working age.

Nigeria. Nigeria was in turmoil in summer 2016, as low oil prices reduced government revenues (oil provides 70 percent of government revenues) and militants disrupted production in the Niger River delta, allowing Angola to surpass Nigeria as Africa's top oil producer. In northern Nigeria, the government is trying to stamp out Boko Haram, the group that has killed thousands, kidnapped children and displaced millions.

Australia. The Pacific solution to the arrival of Middle Eastern migrants who take boats from Indonesia to seek asylum in Australia has been to send them to Pacific islands such as Nauru to apply for asylum. In August 2016, migrant advocates said that the detention of asylum seekers on Nauru was a deliberate strategy to deter others from making the trip, and the government agreed.

There are about 1,000 asylum seekers in Nauru, including half in a camp paid for by Australia, which spends about $900 million a year on asylum seekers at Nauru and Manus Island.

Pauline Hanson, founder of the One Nation party, in September 2016 called for a halt to Muslim immigration to Australia. Now a senator, Hanson and her three One Nation Senate colleagues have power in a divided 70-seat Senate. In 1996, Hanson said that Australia risked being overrun by Asians.

Konle-Seidl, Regina. 2016. Labour Market Integration of Refugees: Strategies and good practices. March.
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/document.html?reference=IPOL_STU(2016)578956


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