An unprecedentedly huge wave of refugees from the Middle East who has been arriving in European countries in the last several years caused the migrant crisis that attracts the particular attention of people and authorities across the globe. Triggered by the Arab Spring in 2010 and leaders’ overthrown in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya, it was subsequently stimulated by civil war in Syria and disorders in Iraq (Valdaru et al.). As a result, millions of people were forced to leave their homes and seek international protection. In 2015, asylum seekers massively started to arrive in European countries using three major routes – from Morocco to Spain, from Turkey to Greece, and from Northern Africa to Italy (Valdaru et al.). Despite the fact that from 65 million refugees that escape their homeland, only 6% of them reached Europe, their stay remains a highly disputable issue (Valdaru et al.). Although it is possible to find a lot of advantages and disadvantages of refugees’ arrival in Europe, from a personal perspective, the European Union should not welcome refugees in an indiscriminate way as this tendency creates a financial burden, asylum seekers are not fully suitable for the European labor market, and a highly negative attitude of native-born citizens may lead to conflicts.
In 2015-2016, Europe has faced probably the largest forced migration of people seeking asylum since World War II. Due to instability in Afghanistan and civil wars in Iraq and Syria, a considerable number of refugees moved westwards searching for safety (Reynolds). Thus, it goes without saying that all newly arrived people need to be fed and provided with accommodation, and their medical needs should be addressed as well. In other words, short-term required expenditure may be highly substantial and include basic income support and humanitarian assistance. Moreover, before refugees start to work and will be able to contribute to the European economy, financial support from governments is necessary along with education and training. Thus, up-front expenditures will be associated with schooling, necessary language training, and the identification of migrants’ skills. Additional support connected with either enforcing returns, or processing asylum claims and the integration of recognized asylum seekers into European society and the labor market is necessary as well. In general, monthly allowances offered to refugees vary significantly between European countries and depend on housing conditions. It may start from approximately €10 for single adults if they are housed in reception centers to more than €300 for refugees without accommodation (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2). In general, the usual cost for accommodating and processing refugees may be from €8 000 to €12 0000 in total per application for the first year (OECD 2). However, the impact of refugees in the host countries’ economy remains uncertain. First of all, according to the definition, refugees are people who moved unintentionally forced by challenging occasions in their native countries. Thus, a considerable number of asylum seekers will have a desire to return home when it will be safe again. At the same time, this part that will want to stay may have substantial difficulties in the labor market due to a lack of language skills and professional knowledge. In addition, a large number of refugees and related expenditures will affect the welfare of Europeans. For instance, the pressure on rentals will increase due to subsequently increasing demand for affordable housing. That is why it is uncertain whether European Union’s financial burden created by refugees will be compensated in the nearest future.
Unsuitability for European Labor Market
There is a common belief that refugees will positively affect the European labor market as they may alleviate the burden caused by a lack of workforce. As a matter of fact, European society is aging fast – according to the EU-28 forecast, the old-age dependency ratio will increase from approximately 29% in 2015 to more than 50% by the middle of the 21st century (Reynolds). As a result, health care and pension systems in the majority of European countries have already faced multiple financial challenges providing a considerable number of retirees. At the same time, refugees are relatively young – approximately a half of those who arrived in the European Union seeking asylum are between 18 and 34 years of age, while almost one-third are even younger than 18 (Reynolds). In addition, on the basis of their age, tradition, and religious beliefs, it is possible to conclude that their fertility rates are higher in comparison with native-born citizens. As a result, refugees are expected to fill the gap in the labor market created by an aging European population. However, all assumptions concerning the successful integration of refugees into the European labor force in the nearest future may be regarded as controversial. First of all, there is a major difference between refugees and immigrants. While immigrants make a conscious decision to leave their countries of origin for a better life, refugees are forced to move by natural disasters, armed conflicts, or prosecution that threaten their lives (Figlio and Özek). Thus, refugees frequently represent the less advantaged general population with lower earnings, language skills, and education levels in comparison with economic migrants. It goes without saying that there are qualified and skilled asylum seekers, however, a considerable number of them do not have documents or their documents cannot be recognized in host countries. In addition, the majority of refugees inevitably face a language barrier and require additional time to obtain the language skills necessary for work. Moreover, due to a combination of multiple structural and individual factors, the integration and participation in the labor market for female refugees are highly limited (Beste). In other words, influenced by labor disparities and gender-based discrimination, women traditionally have substantial difficulties searching for employment or do not search for it at all. In addition, in many European countries, refugees are not allowed to work without processed claims. As the procedure of claim processing is time-consuming, long waiting frequently leads to deskilling and demotivation. As a result, in Germany, only approximately 500,000 of the 1.2 million asylum seekers had completed the integration process’s first stage and started to search for a job, while only 12% had already found employment (Reynolds). At the same time, for poorly educated and unskilled refugees, only the specific sector of low-skilled jobs will be available where an influx of asylum seekers will inevitably create considerable pressure on wages. In other words, when newly-arrived people started to compete with native-born citizens, the latter will experience a decline in their income.
Negative Attitude that May Lead to Conflicts
According to multiple surveys dedicated to the evaluation of public opinion, a substantial number of Europeans have a negative attitude to refugees mainly due to their religion and culture. Countries with the most negative attitude of majorities to refugees and Muslims include Italy, Poland, and Greece (Wike et al.). Even in countries, such as Sweden, Netherlands, and Germany, that always had more positive views, almost the half of population believe that refugees do not respect the cultures of host countries and European values and do not want to integrate (Wike et al.). In addition, a prevalent number of people express concerns that Muslims will be responsible for domestic terrorist attacks. As a matter of fact, less educated individuals, senior citizens, and people “on the right of the ideological spectrum” are more negative towards Muslims and refugees in general (Wike et al.). In addition, more religious Europeans traditionally believe that refugees would like to be distinct. Moreover, a substantial number of native-born citizens believe that the majority of Muslims that arrived in their countries in search of safety support extremist groups, including ISIS. All in all, the majority of Europeans do not have sympathy towards Muslims and think that they may be regarded as a potential threat to their well-being and lives. It goes without saying that this attitude cannot remain unnoticeable and may lead to the isolation of refugees and cause challenges connected with their accommodation, safety, and employment. In turn, facing stereotyped thinking, asylum seekers who have already lost their homes may feel unwanted, desperate, and aggressive. As a result, the biased attitude of Europeans formed by personal experience and mass media may provoke open conflicts with refugees.
It goes without saying that the expediency of refugees’ stay in Europe is a highly controversial issue. First of all, no one can say with certainty how refugees will impact the political, economic, social, and cultural life of Europe in the long term. From a personal perspective, in the present day, asylum seekers put a considerable financial burden on the European economy, while their contribution to host countries’ workforces remains uncertain. In addition, refugees who unintentionally cause wages’ decline and increasing rentals and do not want to integrate into European cultural life inevitably attract citizens’ negative attention. As a result, isolation, desperateness, and aggressiveness may lead to open confrontation between native-born and arrived people.
Beste, Alice. “The Contributions of Refugees: Lifting Barriers to Inclusion.” Our World, 2015, Web.
Figlio, David N., and Umut Özek. “Unwelcome Guests? The Effects of Refugees on the Educational Outcomes of Incumbent Students.” Cato Institute, 2018, Web.
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “How Will the Refugee Surge Affect the European Economy?” Migration Policy Debates, no. 8, 2015, pp. 1-4.
Reynolds, Oliver. “Bounty or Burden? The Impact of Refugees on European Economies Is Far from Clear.” Focus Economics, 2017, Web.
Valdaru, Kert, et al. “The Impact of the Refugee Crisis on Europe and Estonia.” Estonian Human Development Report 2016/2017, Web.
Wike, Richard, et al. “2. Negative Views of Minorities, Refugees Common in EU.” Pew Research Center, 2016, Web.