Europe faces a number of problems that have a transcending global effect. These threats are visible across other continents as well, but European states, being major players in the international system, and one of the most diverse modern world continents. The role she plays in handling these problems have come under more strict global scrutiny.
Europe faces both natural and man-made problems. Some of the problems; climate change; loss of biodiversity; increasing demand for food; economic and structural problems; the European debt crisis, commonly called the Eurozone crisis; political misalignment; the decrease of public support in the European Union, the one which affects the relationship between the EU and one of its most important members, the United Kingdom; internal security issues; and of course the immigration problems within Europe and from outside the continent, notably from north Africa and the middle east. These identified challenges exist with a global scope.
A closer assessment of these problems indicates the interconnectedness of Europe’s ‘illnesses’. With the aura of Europe’s contemporary unparalleled development, it has become a treasured continent for most people of the world especially Africans whose albatross range from poverty, wars, diseases, hunger, harsh weather, and political failures characterized by dictatorial regimes, and from war torn nations of the Middle East. These unsavory scenarios have created and sustained the tempo of migration (both legal and illegal) of non-Europeans to Europe in large proportions without adequate food and security measures.
Europe’s internal migration issues are overwhelming. People move from less develop parts of Europe to more urban countries for reasons such as; to earn higher income; to enjoy better social security packages and better working conditions. Most times there are not enough infrastructures to handle such realities. For instance Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg noted in a debate in 2014 that over one million and five hundred thousand (1,500000) people flocked into Britain from other countries in Europe and only about half of them – seven hundred thousand (750,000) returned to their various countries.
I believe Europe’s greatest future problem would be ignoring the depressing impact of immigration on every sector of the continent; it poses an accumulated threat to the existence of a united and prosperous Europe and her values.
The impact of immigration on the economy has been widely discussed. However, some European country studies show that there are still various economic areas in need of further research. In some countries, for example, the extent of the impact of immigrants on the welfare state systems, on tax revenues and on pension funds can only be estimated. Italy, for instance, is spending $17 million a month on ships, helicopters, housing and other measures to accommodate a 700 percent increase in immigrants. According to Eurostat, Germany reported the highest number of asylum applicants in 2014 — 127,000 — nearly double the number in France, which had over 66,000. Sweden just had over 54,000, while the United Kingdom had almost 30,000.
The role of immigrants as consumers is overwhelming. This is the case in the labour markets, concerning job opportunities, unemployment, incomes, formal and informal activities, sectorial divisions, trade orientation, competition, as well as import and export. Immigration is changing the patterns and sizes of consumption.
Most of Europe’s immigrants are heading to prosperous EU member states like Germany or Sweden, where jobs and social welfare benefits are plentiful. But according to EU laws, those who survive the perilous journey across the Mediterranean or through the Middle East and Turkey must remain in the country where they first entered Europe.
That means many immigrants are stuck in economically struggling border countries like Bulgaria, Italy and Spain that don’t have the resources to accommodate them. Many immigrants wind up living in dismal tent cities and subsisting on aid from governments and aid organizations.
A crucial element in the debate about the road towards a new society is whether safety is an ideal within reach, or a utopian illusion, which is impossible to achieve. Certain criminological theories put forward the suggestion that crime and deviance occur because of the lack of inclusion in a given society. The security industry contributes to defensive exclusion in the form of for example, gated communities. Of course, it is difficult to accept a stranger without needs into your home talk more of a stranger with extraordinary needs and is demanding them. A deeper study of insurgency and radicalization reveals that most targets in Europe are often excluded people in the society. If European countries keep accepting migrants without an inclusive plan for them, well, in the nearest future the war would have moved from the Middle East to places like Belgium, Italy and France.
One policy option for Europe to abate the looming problem of massive immigration is to drive the peace process in various warring parts of the world where most of the migrants emanate. This involves reenergizing her commitment to first of all, resolving the crisis in the Middle East through a more pragmatic diplomacy. There is urgent need to be realistic about this. A more inclusive dialogue on the crisis must be encouraged. All parties to the conflict should be respected and given a chance to renegotiate their demands.
After which Europe should commit herself to economic revitalization of people and systems torn apart by the crisis. By so doing Europe would have stopped people from risking their lives on the Atlantic ocean by giving them reasons not to as well as saved wealth that would have gone into catering for both immediate and advanced needs of millions of immigrants on a weekly basis.
Europe should recognize the fact that the crisis in North Africa has a tremendous effect on Europe’s economic future as well as safety of her citizens. A time will come when migrants will demand social security rights upon setting foot on Europe’s soil. The overwhelming impact of globalization will surely make this prognosis reality if policy makers fail to act now.
The future of Europe looms with deepening socio-religious crisis. The recent Charlie Hebdo attacks in France and the series of horrors that had swept across Europe in recent times by religious extremist networks gives a veritable insight on the future of an Europe that takes in foreign migrants from crisis torn states with no assured future only to have them turn against the values and practices of their host.
As Francis Fukuyama and other scholars have argued, with the oscillating policies of Europe toward developing countries rooted in their conservatism, people from these unstable regions shall continue to move to a more stable zone (Europe) and which in turn poses endemic challenges to the continent.