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Friday, March 08, 2013

Let's tone it down a notch: Comparing the UK and German debates on EU migration

No one picking up a UK paper will have failed to notice that there is some concern over EU migration on the British isles, with the debate being triggered by the end of so-called "transitional controls" for Romanian and Bulgarian workers (the countries joined in 2007).

As we've argued repeatedly, EU free movement has on the whole been beneficial for both Europe and the UK, but the issue must be handled with much care, given its exceptionally sensitive nature and the practical impact it can have on public services and certain sectors of the labour market.

But there's also a false perception in the UK that all of Europe wants to come to Britain to enjoy its superior welfare system. This is far from the truth and secondly, the UK isn't the only country that has concerns over EU migration. It is, however, the country in which the debate is the most hysterical. Philip Collins looks at this in today's Times.

Speaking in Parliament earlier this week, Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith said there was a “crisis” over rules on EU migrants’ access to services and welfare, particularly in light of the expiry of transitional controls on migrants from Bulgaria and Romania at the end of the year. The issue definitely needs to be looked at, and there are several things the UK needs to do (see here). The Commission also needs get its act together and drop its own-goal challenge against the UK's "right to reside" test - the test is a political hugely important filter to guard against welfare abuse. But crisis?

Duncan Smith did, however, rightly point out that other EU member states shared some of the UK’s concerns, specifically that “Germany has woken up at last to the reality that it might face a large net migration”.

So what is the nature of the corresponding debate in Germany? Well, there's a genuine concern. A recent position paper by the German Association of Cities generated a lot of coverage as it focused specifically on so-called ‘poverty migration’ from Bulgaria and Romania, particularly those from a Roma background. The report warned that these migrants arrived in cities already affected by relatively high unemployment and with severely stretched public finances, and that despite the transitional controls in place, migration from Bulgaria and Romania had increased six-fold since 2006.

In terms of the public response, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU) recently warned that:
“Abuse of free movement could be explosive for European solidarity. If people in Germany feel that their solidarity and openness is being abused and our welfare system is looted then there will be legitimate anger. The message for the EU Commission is clear: Brussels has to take stronger account of situation of the local population in its decision making process.” 
Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (FDP) has also stressed that "Many Roma flee their homes because of discrimination and resulting poverty… Poverty-related migration must be addressed at its roots." Germany has also said it might veto Bulgaria and Romania’s entry to the border-free Schengen zone, which the UK is not part of.

Clearly, Germany could be an ally for the UK in terms of instituting clearer and more transparent rules on EU wide migration and access to welfare which are necessary to restore public confidence in free movement, as we’ve argued in our report on the subject.

However, on the whole, the debate in Germany has been far more measured than in the UK, with substantially fewer scare-stories on the subject from the press and politicians. For example, the often sensationalist Bild ran a feature on Roma migration earlier this week which was relatively balanced, stating that “there has been no mass immigration” and that migrants tend to seek employment, not benefits.

And that's what UK politicians and media need to remember: the overwhelming evidence suggests EU migrants come to Britain to work, not take advantage of the system.


Rollo said...

At a time of record youth unemployment, do we want uncontrolled numbers of people coming here wanting jobs?
Especially when the repatriate their earnings, at vast cost to the nation, so we have to borrow more to payn them?

Rik said...

1. It is for a large part your newspapers that create this situation. Look at that Rooney story these days it looks like WW3 has just started and not a guy left out of his team for one match.
However that is the way a major part of every public discussion goes in the UK and you are n ot going to change that by being reasonable. Newspapers are part of the discussion and so is the BBC which with its Guardianist views probably made the thing worse. The discussion nhas simply been blocked effectively for much too long.
2. You are too much focussed on the economy. The main problems a lot people have are different cultural/social. In that respect it is very similar to the EU discussion. Overall it is likely economically benificial however as we all know there are alot of problems surrounding the issue. Furthermore as with the EU a lot could be improved (more likley nett payers in and less likley nett receivers out).
3. The immigration discussion by calling a few decades that a) there was no problem and everybody who had his/her thoughts about it was racist has become very emotional. Also people who seen that things that their common sense said would go wrong actually have go wrong after 1 or 2 decades have become very sceptical re new groups.
4. The discussion is very emotional everywhere. Germany is probably partly a few years behind. Like the UK is several years behind say Holland. If Germany would have a Wilders an anti-immigration party would be on the map and the discussion would be different. And Germany has had the advantage that the first part of the discussion could develop before the discussion got to the emotional level. In the UK it has been suppressed till very recently and then you get the pressurecooker effect.

Rayatcov said...

'EU free movement has on the whole been beneficial for both Europe and the UK.

Yes, that's why the NHS is struggling.
More houses built on green sites to accommodate them.
London now has a white minority.
Birmingham soon to follow.
We will very shortly be strangers in our own land.
I don't understand your reasoning.

Anonymous said...

I am currently gainfully employed but I would definitively want to abuse the system if I had time for that.
Why not? I couldn't care less what some politician says.
Look at the banks and the political class. The ECB is lending hundreds of billions at a negative interest rate.

Rik said...

What I have been missing in your report (as far as I can properly recall it), is roughly the point Rollo brings up.
Probably 80-90% of the problems with immigration are with immigrants at the lower end of the labourmarket. There 300 000 French of all people only in London and hardly anybody has a problem with that (well except the smell of garlic of course).

At the same time the bottom part of the UK labour market has unemployment figures that are much higher than the average. While skills required often can be taught within a day. Nevertheless there is a massive inflow of (low wages) workers/immigrants.
Should not the conclusion be that the bottom part of the UK labourmarket is pretty dysfunctional (like anywhere else in Western Europe btw).
With all consequences thereof.
Looks like an unsustainable situation as well btw and probably another unconvenient truth.

Denis Cooper said...

I believe that the British people have the right to possess and control their own country.

What do you believe?

Anonymous said...

The fear and debate in the UK over unfettered migration/immigration and the loss of sovereignty that make it impossible for the people of the UK to do aything about immigration and migration is not "hysterical."

And if Open Europe wasn't the Eurofascist engine of EUSSR ugliness that it is, Open Europe would not put out the lie that the UK's reaction is hysterical.

Denis Cooper said...

Well, thank you for publishing my question, but do you have an answer?

I'd quite like to put that basic question to every MP and be given a truthful answer, because I suspect that a traitorous majority of those we have mistakenly elected as our representatives in the British Parliament really believe that the British people should have no rights at all over what they still fondly think of as being their own country.

IDRIS said...

Claims that mass immigration has benefitted this country in recent years are based on the same sort of numerical sleight of hand that persuades people who should know better that speed cameras are cost effective (they aren't, see www.fightbackwithfacts.com)

This how the economics of mass immigration of low skilled labour works in reality.

An employer offers rock bottom wages insufficient to tempt our unemployed out of bed, but finds willing takers of immigrants for whom those wages are far better than at home. Hence

1/ The State pays one person not to do the job

2/ That non-employee sinks ever deeper into the mess created for him, has time on his hands to cause trouble, work in the black economy and in some cases turn to crime - so we pay again.

3/ The employer pays immigrant workers, whose average GDP per head is 1/3 of the national average at about £16k pa and whose income is not enough to support him. So we pay again with social security of all kinds and on top of that we build accomadation, schools, employ teachers and interpretersm put up road signs in many languages and pay huge fees to lawyers to represent incoming criminals.

4/ The immigrants send some of their income, icluding criminal income, back home to the detriment of our economy. Our soccial services send money there to help their families who often have never been here.

5/ We spend £100m plus a year convicting Romanian criminals alone, and keeping 620 of them in jail - and those who are mugged and maimed pay heavily on top (see my letter in the Telegraph 4th March)

Conclusion - it would be far better and far more cost effective to stop mass immigration dead, allow market forces to force up wages at the lower end to tempt the unemloyed into working for a living wage, and to stop spending billions a year to support people who are not our responsibility and whose GDO in no way covers the costs of their being here.

And that even if their GDP were exra GDP, which of course it is not, as the law of supply and demand would ensure, as above, that that GDP would still be produced if - when - they go home.

Anyone who claims otherwise is either brain-dead or motivated by reasons other than the well-being of this country and its people - including of course the EU's motive of mixing up all the nationalities of Europe to remove all traces of national identity the more easily to impose its totalitarian single State called Europe

And if Open Europe continues to pretend that mass immingration is beneficial to this country that can only be another reason to be deeply suspicious both it is collective intelligence and its motives

Stop writing nonsense!

christina speight said...

Rik's first posting on this is shameful . He seems to thing that "suppressing"" debate is acceptable indeed he backs this act of totalitarianism.

The reason it has boiled up is that we - in England anyway - no spare spaces to put more people, our hospitals are under pressure and we see social housing going to foreign families who've only been here 10 minutes or so, We've paid for this and we've had enough. AND to rub salt in the wound our prisons have more than the proportionate number oif immigrants in them and we have to keep them, when we want to send them home.

I think I am right in saying that England (not Scotland or Wales) has now overtaken Belgium to give us the densest population in Europe

We want control of our country back and if we can't get and stay in the EU then we we will leave the EU.

christina speight said...

Rik's second is nonsense too. In London there are 400,000 French people now and they've opened their own schools and bring prosperity with them.

The unemployment in this country - unlike in the eurozone has fallen every month for the last year as our industry picks up the jobs lost and creates new ones. Sales to the EU are down but sales to the rest of the world are booming. WE want immigration but it's our country and WE will control it.

Rik said...

Your newspapers in general hardly are focussed on starting a proper rational debate. They simply look for selling papers that day. Much more than papers in other European countries (which look much more for long term readership).
If they would have been interested in a rational debate they would have presented properly cases for different sorts of immigration iso all kind of excesses as they do at the moment. There are more articles about Jamaican single mums taking care their children go to college and foreign criminals and terrorists, living from the British taxpayer than on the background of the discussion. Scandalls/feel good stories sell newspapers and academic gaga doesnot, as simple as that.

They are also still much more scared to be accused to be for instance racist than even German newspapers for instance. The level of the debate on the dysfunctionality of some racial groups is simply too pathetic for words in the UK. So your more free press is hardly helpful and have seen a much bigger drop in standards than say in Germany. The UK was a few decades ago the standard for quality journalism nowadays the Germans for instance have left you far behind (sidestep). The main advantage is you have is the language and the FT (which is in the right part of the market but also losing more and more terrain compared to the WSJ).

I am not in anyway for suppressing a debate but the debate as it is done at the moment is hardly working/useful. One side shouting at the other they are racist, doing the economy harm because they want nett receivers not in. The other side well you know the other way around.

Apparently nobody cuts immigration in parts in the general discussion as there are simply different groups (OE does it in their report btw, but you hardly see it in the public discussion, where all immigration is put together and is either seen 100% good or 100% disasterous).

There is a huge difference in immigration from highly educated people and people that are very similar to the Brits on one side and immigration of undereducated persons at the other. The first works very well the second is a financial blackhole at least longer term and gives rise to alot of social friction. Or to summarise it one part is highly successful the other part is an economic and social disaster.

Most of the capacity problems also happen at that lower end of the spectrum. Which is very logical as the costs per new capita is at least rising with the average costs (they cost simply more re healthcare and social security and for several groups other social assistance and law enforcements) while the income/contribution (to pay for it) is not even half. So it creates a financial problem as well (next to a pure organisational), which is at the moment one of the main reasons national services malfunction even more than usual. They get less money per head so have to make cuts and next to being inconvenient anyway, government services are horrible in managing that process.

You see that capacity problem also way too much onesided. As far as the EU goes also alot of Brits have moved abroad. Cutting off only at your side is next to unfair also likely not working. You simply would get a lot of them back with another capacity problem.
Of course Brits are likley giving less social disturbance in the uK at least (they are probably for the Northern tribes the ones that cause the most disturbance while abroad btw). Which brings us back to the bottom part of the immigrationladder.
And the fact that the part of the market (bottom) with already a lot of oversupply apparently still attracks even much more supply (of cheap labour) creating an even larger oversupply. Something clearly isnot working properly there.

As I see it the free movement is not really a problem as far as it similar countries to the UK concerns. It however becomes a problem if you add much poorer countries and even a bigger one if it becomes free welfare for all.

Anonymous said...

This article is a PC glossover attempt.

I live in Ealing, the UK number 1 hot spot for immigration. Local English people are flooding out of the area as you do not hear an English voice when you leave your house. Some classes now have 28/30 children as immigrants with the result that local children are being dragged down. Schools here moved their term start dates to later in January as so many eastern europeans didn't bother to come back until late January. It has cost us child care fees as the schools did this to protect their OFSTEAD attendance stats. Having investigated this I could go on and on.

This is ethnic cleansing. I get to watch and pay for my way of life to get destroyed yet I get no say or vote on the matter.

The two main issues you missed are the cost (people arriving here are here to take and not give and we are in massive debt) and the fact that this level of immigration is synonymous with a disaster occuring somewhere nearby - likein the EU. This is unsustainable both socially and economically.

Anonymous said...


Misinformed comments I have to say.

EU citizens are coming here because of the economic disaster tha
t the EU has caused. It is YOUR Euro projekt so take responsibility for it! The numbers of French now arriving here is incredible. This tells me that France is in serious economic trouble and yet again, the UK - the good citizen of Europe, will welcome them. Yet the EU is still targetting our financial centre.

I now detest the whole idea of the EU and the word 'Europe' has been debased.

The EU has nothing to offer me that would compensate me for my lack of a vote.

Jesper said...

It is a sensitive subject.

Increase the demand for housing by immigration is likely to put an upward pressure on cost of housing. Cost-inflation for ordinary people.

Increase the supply of workers by immigration is likely to put a downward pressure on wages. Wage-deflation for ordinary people.

Migrants are less likely to know their rights and are therefore more likely to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. Both in terms of wages and standard of accommodation. The need for control of businesses increases (at a cost).

The debate in Sweden about the above does not exist.

The 'migration is good' argument hinges on the so called 'demographic problem'. Or in more direct language: sometime in the future there might possibly be a shortage of workers.

Two problems being up for discussion:
-Shortage of jobs. Difficult to address and an actual existing current problem.
-Shortage of workers. Easy to address and so far only a theoretical potential problem.

Increased mobility is being sold as a great opportunity to experience Europe and it is. I've used it myself. However, it is not a 'free lunch'. It comes at a cost and a politician that pretends that it doesn't cost anything and that it has no negative consequences is either lying or is not in touch with his/her electorate.

AuntyEUnice said...

If it walks like a federation and talks like a federation it must be a federation and in a federation the federated entities get little say.
The EU in it's rush to federation of the regions and cities has much to change to suit the federalist agenda, and the only way they know is to knock the nationalist complacency out of the way and cause breakages which they will happily offer to fix to their common standard.

Anonymous said...

"...EU free movement has on the whole been beneficial for both Europe and the UK..."

No it hasn't.

Denis Cooper said...

There's an interesting chart in this article:


Responses to the question:

"What should be the maximum allowed level of annual immigration?"

with those polled being allowed to choose between different numerical ranges from 0 to 750,000+ and finally "no limit".

The peak or mode of the distribution is at 50,000, which was selected by 27% of all respondents.

But the median is higher, between 50,000 and 100,000, because taking the 18% who chose zero and adding the 27% who chose 50,000 = 45%, so slightly fewer than half of the respondents thought that it should not be higher than 50,000; while 12% chose 100,000, making a total of 57% who thought that it should not be higher than 100,000.

If the graduations had been finer then the median result would probably have been about 70,000 a year, still far too high in my view but much lower than present levels.

Obviously it would be wrong to take the average or mean response because there were 6% who said "no limit", and no matter how few said that their minority voices would ensure that the mean response was infinity; it has to be the median, so that half of respondents see it as being too high and half see it as being too low.

OK, so we've had this opinion poll on the maximum number of immigrants who should be allowed in each year, now let's have the official national referendum asking the same question.

Rik said...

@Anonymous 11.55
There are something if I am not mistaken like 3 million Brits abroad: 'Spanish', French pensioners etc. We have seen eg 10s % of your constructionworkers a decade or so ago ago moving to the continent.
What I mean is if you don't want your French etc immigrants now:
-you likely get your pensioners and a few others back in return as well. In other words you will be messing up a few million lives not only French but also of your countrymen. Quid pro quo.
-you should as a country not have benefitted from those rules when it was convenient at the time (to get rid a ooo's of unemployed).
-you should focus as a country on where the problem really is and that is not with immigration from similar countries it is from immigration for poor countries be they in or out EU and the uneducated part thereof (and unlike with the garlic eaters they give very little in return, average such immigarnt costs a lot nett to the state (not even to mention the social costs). Not the fact that they work. The problem is that as a worker they especially longer term start to behave like your own local uncerclass which are also huge basketcases. Plus they not even bring in half the tax revenue of the average local while costs are at least as high. In other words longer term huge nett recivers.

Anyway you cannot afford to avoid immigration completely as your economy depends for a large part thereon. Look with your main banks the international business is for a large part done by foreigners as you simply cannot have the adequate people. Your language skills as a nation completely suck for instance.
Your bottom part of the workforce is simply largely dysfunctional. Nobody in his right mind wants to hire Brits for that kind of work as they are completely crap as workers in that sector. Some of these lower end jobs could be done somewhere else but a lot of them still have to be done in the UK. It is a 2 sided problem you have problems with foreign workingclass/underclass immigrants fair. But you donot look in the mirror. The fact that your own countrymen in that sector are by far more crap than big parts of the immigrants is completely ignored and you let them get away with that as a country as, as a country, you donot have the stomach to face that part of the problem. Make this part function and at internationally competitive prices and you will have solved the immigartion problem likely for more than half.

Same with the French. Yes they smell like garlic and donot wash themselves properly but I rather would live with them in my country (as they donot as a group need financial support) than with your own people from the North or Ulster who are also basketcases in their own right.

In a nutshell you cannot unilaterally change rules and think others will not do as well. And the overpopulation problem will get back to you in another way.
Plus a lot of your problems are homemade large parts of your own society is dysfunctional and not only the 3rd world immigration and large regions of your country are as well. Get those to work (and contribute) and you solve half of the problem.

Rayatcov said...

We were warned!
Winston Churchill on Immigration
“I am considering blocking all immigration to Britain because I fear a growing coloured population will pose a threat to Britain’s social stability. We do not want a parti-coloured UK.” — Winston Churchill, Cabinet Memorandum, dated February 1953.

“Problems will arise if many coloured people settle here. Are we to saddle ourselves with colour problems in UK? Immigrants are attracted here by the welfare state. Public opinion in UK won’t tolerate it once it gets beyond certain limits.” — Winston Churchill, Cabinet memorandum, February 1954.

Of course we have the alternative.

David Cameron on Immigration
“Immigration is a good thing. Immigrants actually create more employment.
David Cameron, speech to Disability Scotland, 15 November 2006.

Rik said...

It is imho the wrong question. It makes a huge difference if people contribute nett or are nearly certain long term recivers. It makes a big difference if somebody will fit in from the start has a proper job and is properly educated or you get illiterates from another culture.

You probably need immigration but mainly immigration at the high end education and potential income wise. 100 Oxford professors are likely less disturbing for society as 1 Roma or Salafi. Putting a brake on international people simply would get a lot of dynamic out of your society. The problem is mainly you should be able to filter the good ones out and be attractive to them as other wise they move somewhere else. As well as filter the bad apples out and before they are in your country.

Which brings me to the next topic you need a proper apparatus to deal with it. And like all Western countries you simply donot have that. Your immigration authorities are largely dysfunctional. You can demand all the policies you want if it cannot be enforced and executed properly things will largely remain as they are.

You see now already that any promises cannot be met. Anyway it is not one thing you can change from one day to the next. As a country you have taken a lot of international obligation on you and dumping them has a lot of repurcussions.

Denis Cooper said...

Rik -

"You probably need immigration"

Actually I don't think we do "need" immigration.

There has certainly been some benefit from allowing certain people to come and live in our country, and it's not difficult to name some well-known individuals, but even if they hadn't come we would probably have found others of comparable value arising from our own pool of talent.

The median value of 70,000 as the maximum immigration each year in that poll would allow a lot of scope for allowing in individuals with exceptional talents.

"As a country you have taken a lot of international obligation on you and dumping them has a lot of repurcussions."

As a people we have never been asked whether we wish to accept those international obligations, and if dumping them leads to repercussions then so be it.

I repeat: this is our country, and we have a right to possess and control it whatever you or Open Europe or the EU or Cameron may think.

Rik said...


First of all I still miss something is your problem the numbers or is it that the immigrants have problems fitting in society. 70000 Roma would give a lot of social tension no doubt about that, 70000 Danes probably hardly, and if you get these kind of policies you will likley get at least 70000 British pensiones and others coming back.
And even from a same country 70000 stricktly undereducated from the subcontinent will cause a problem. 70000 from the same countries but educated at their top universities will very likely go smoothly. There are other factors not only pure numbers: quality; income; languageskills; compatible culture (religion; education level state of development etc.).

Probably 70000 a year would in theory do more than the job. In practice I simply donot see that happening as in several sectors the UK simply doesnot have its house in order. There will very likley be a lack of medical staff for instance. Why are people hiring Poles, not only for low wages, but also while at the lower end of the labourmarket your own people are simply crap. In theory you use your own pool of talent in practice you end up with shortages and work being outsourced.
As said earlier the quality of the bottom part of your workforce is crap plus they are internationally seen extremely expensive absolute stimulus for outsourcing.

As said earlier if you donot get your apparatus in order you simply will not be able to make a proper selection and end up with close to the current numbers.

Your wages except at the very top end are simply low and costs of living is not. Except London and some places around it as a living enviroment your country is basically awful. Combine that with difficulties in say bringing the family over and you are simply not attractive for top talent. Now you might have an inflow because of the crisis but it simply doesnot look a sustainable situation. Talent picks its workplace it is not the other way around. Anyway your apparatus is not properly able to pick them out as well. They do a very poor job in being wellcoming to the economically wanted and avoid the basketcases, very poor.

So what I say before you can get realistically to a number you need to get your house in order. Kick the bottom part of your labourmarket in line and get your immigration authorities properly working. You simply see the problem like nearly all politicians much to easily and like them come up with solutions that simply will not work.

Not an UK problem btw similar nearly all over Europe. Immigration authorities are crap and so is the average quality of the bottom say 20% of the labourmarket. Both are not fit for purpose.