Let’s imagine that a Spanish family is going to Syria on holiday and whilst they enjoy their time of leisure a civil war breaks out in that country. Upon realizing the danger to their safety and the safety of their children, the family rushes to buy plane tickets to return to our country. Upon arriving at the airport they discover that the Spanish authorities have cancelled their passport and that therefore the family is forced to stay in Syrian soil or at best wondering stateless through the border zones of Jordan, Lebanon or Turkey.
I have no doubt that such a situation would cause the general outcry of Spanish citizens to the point of having the minister of foreign affairs resign. It would even go as far as to cause the collapse of the government coalition. It is horrifying to even imagine the possibility of being constrained in such a crossfire inferno or at best living in the pauperized adjacent areas. Yet that is the horror to which Europeans are condemning not just one family but millions of families by denying entry onto European soil to the refugees of the Syrian civil war.
In case of the argument that both situations are not comparable, Spanish citizens in Syrian soil do have the right to return to Europe, whilst Syrian citizens lack that right. However more than an individual right, we are talking about a discretional state concession since it is the state who takes on the competency of recognizing, modulating or eliminating the mobilization of people between nations. (For example should the Schengen treaty be suspended, the free transit between European nations would be severely restricted). From here we can propose to see the issue from a different perspective, instead of considering if the Syrians have a right to enter Europe, why don’t we ask ourselves if the European states have the right to impede the entry of Syrian refugees into Europe? Finally, if the possibility of a Spanish family being stuck in the Syrian civil war seems simply horrendous, how can we think there is no presumption in favour of the free movement of people that can only be suspended in the case of the utmost powerful reasons?
In this sense, the main argument that has been used against the entry of the Syrian refugees is that Europe does not have the capacity to absorb 3,6 million people who are awaiting entry into the old continent. It is apparently clear that this impossibility cannot be demographic or related to space. The European Union has 508 million inhabitants, therefore 3,6 million refugees represent a mere 0,7% of the population. To put it perspective, in 2014 the population of the United States increased by 2,3 million people, the equivalent of 0,72% of the total population. Also, the population density of the European Union is of 117,4 inhabitants per square kilometre, therefore if all the Syrian refugees were allowed into the EU the density would increase up to 118,3 inhabitants per squared kilometre. In fact, the population density at this moment in Denmark is 128,1 inhabitants per square kilometre and that of Germany 230.
Therefore, the impossibility of absorbing which is so widely spoken of, cannot be demographic, in any case likely an economic one. Is Europe able to handle the inclusion of 3,6 million people into it’s economy? Can Spain assume its proportional lot of close to 330,000 new inhabitants? The question is symptomatic in economies like those of Europe, which often deplores the effects of a shrinking demography and which laments the lack of investment opportunities in which it can drive growth and financial health. An increase in population of this magnitude should be seen as an opportunity to increase internal investments and through that investment and increase in our aggregate production. (Let us not forget that this type of opportunities has been a driving force of growth in emerging markets during the last decades)
Why is it that, what should be considered an economic opportunity is seen as an intolerable load that condemns millions of people to the horrors of an armed conflict and poverty? Essentially, because in Europe we have created an economic system where poor people are not capable of reaching prosperity on their own unless they are clients of the gigantic welfare state. Our labour, energy or commercial regulations block unproductive employees from finding work in the formal economy or that they are able to set up their own businesses. The asphyxiating taxation forbids that those who have found and occupation are able to develop their life in an autonomous way.
The “(anti) social European model” is pushing many Europeans to repudiate immigrants and in this case the refugees of war, as parasites who come to take what is “ ours” (“ our” public services which are paid with “ our” taxes or “our” scares jobs), when in reality it is those who go to Europe looking first for protection against a war and secondly a place where they along with their families can be prosperous along side the rest of society.
There are no economic arguments valid enough to justify the creation of walls to “protect” Europe from the “ invasion” of immigrants, including the refugees of war. If the welfare state and the hyper state regulations were that motive then what is out of place is the welfare state and the hyper state regulations, not the immigrants.
(Artículo traducido por Giovanna Mazariegos del original en español).
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