Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

German economy fuelled by nearly one million immigrants in 2012

May 9, 2013

Figures reported in the German newspaper Die Zeit give an interesting insight into immigration in Europe’s most powerful economy. Massive immigration is compensating the demographic effects of a falling birth rate. Key points:

965,908 foreigners immigrated into Germany in 2012, mostly from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and also southern European countries such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, which have been hard hit by their local banking crises. That’s the equivalent of the population of Cologne.

However 578,759 foreigners also left Germany, leaving net immigration of 387,149.

Turks used to flood into Germany, but last year more Turks left Germany than entered, since the thriving Turkish economy offers opportunities at home. Immigration from Islamic countries has become insignificant.

Among German nationals, more left the country than returned.

Because of the declining birth rate, Germany needs net immigration of between 250,000 and 400,000 yearly in order to prevent the population from declining, which would depress economic growth and lead to an ageing population. 200,000 more people die in Germany than are born.

The moral, say Die Zeit, is that this huge immigration is beneficial despite resulting social strains, and Germany should do more to make immigrants welcome.

Meanwhile, in Britain, new legislation is under preparation to make it harder for foreigners to immigrate. We shall see which policy is right …

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Greece: cradle of democracy and philosophy – and now also destroyer of Europe?

May 16, 2012

Greeks were the first to organise themselves politically to represent the common interest. Philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle showed the power of reason, which never lost its influence despite religions which insisted knowledge came only from divine revelation.  Greeks have thus inspired us over the ages.

Will they now write a third chapter in their history by destroying the vision of a Europe which no longer tears itself apart – as it did at huge cost in human lives in the last century?

Since joining the European Union, Greece acquired a reputation as the member which consistently flouted its rules. Its citizens lived far beyond their means and today show no signs of acknowledging responsibility.

Predictions are that the new elections will favour parties who care nothing for Europe and nothing for the financial ruin they will bring by reneging on the country’s debts. In doing so, they may bring down the euro and perhaps even the European Union.

Europe’s younger generations take the benefits of the European Union largely for granted – that is, freedom of movement and employment, relaxed personal relations, democracy, rule of law, common standards, no passport queues at airports, and, yes, a common currency which facilitates price comparisons and is immensely convenient.

Greeks now risk writing themselves into history as the destroyers of this harmony. They will be remembered long for their selfishness and fecklessness if they choose that path. It is hard to believe Europe’s young people will let them get away with it. But if they succeed, how many will still remember Greeks as pioneers of democracy and philosophy?

 

EU fiscal harmonisation – why not? Look at C & E Europe

January 29, 2012

Many doubt that EU member countries would accept fiscal harmonisation, which implies ceding some sovereignty. If you look at the profound changes the ex-Communist countries of Central & Eastern Europe accepted to qualify for EU membership however, this does not seem impossible.

Those countries introduced market economies, democratic rights, the rule of law and safeguards for minorities in order to conform with EU requirements. This was all contrary to their previous practices, and required an enormous upheaval. It hurt, since the change to a market economy caused deep recession and unemployment for a number of years. They did it because membership of the EU is such a powerful draw in the long term. The people voted in referenda in favour of all the EU norms, including joining the euro and Schengen.

Now Greece, and possibly other countries, may be asked to allow the European community in some form or another to supervise its budgets. This would be only to the good, since local politicians have been unable to do what is needed. As in Central & Eastern Europe, Greeks may well recognise it is better for a time to have the EU calling the economic shots rather than their local politicians.

Already in Italy, Mario Monti, a former EU commissioner, is proving popular in an econ0mic reorganisation which the party politicians could not achieve. Sometime, it is easier to accept a tough lesson from an outsider.

As for Greece, European bureaucrats grew used to seeing it flaunt EU norms. They considered it too small to count. They won’t make that mistake again.


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