“Immigration is necessary for Europe”

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs, during a press conference in Brussels, June 19
Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Internal Affairs, during a press conference in Brussels, June 19 | AFP / Georges Gobet

The debate on Schengen was triggered by the events of “Arab spring” . In this regard, you believe that Europe has missed a “historic opportunity” . Why?

That, in our immediate neighborhood, people do fall of dictators and peacefully demanding freedom and human rights was a major event. But what have we told people who were inspired by our values? We were in crisis and we were afraid of “vague biblical” of immigrants … Note that only 4% of those who fled Libya headed to Europe! Our approach led to a deterioration of our relations with these countries and created a suspicion that is only beginning to be overcome.

You said recently that immigration was, for Europe, “not a threat but an opportunity” and even “growth factor” . A speech that surprised …

course, but I maintain. Immigration will be necessary, particularly given the changing demographics in most of our countries. It is estimated that by 2030, without further immigration, the EU population of working age will decline by 12%. Business leaders talk to me regularly difficulty recruiting qualified people even as unemployment is highest. Germany shortage of engineers, in 2020, the European health should fail to 2 million people.

Or a

OECD report has just shown that many people are less likely to emigrate attempted by Europe and more by Brazil, Canada or Australia, or Angola or Mozambique. This could eventually cause us great difficulty. The same OECD also shows that the migratory pressure on Europe is fading. But, of course, it may be a temporary effect of the crisis that we know.

Pedagogy on this “new immigration” is necessary but, obviously, the idea is hard to hold …

Yes, but the reality is there. The role of the Brussels Commission is also encouraging policies to consider. Consider the problems in the long term and to rise above national contingencies. Academics have identified it as what I say is perfectly banal …

The rise of xenophobic populist forces, including in this northern Europe you just prevents that we hear your message. How?

It is true that Geert Wilders, for example, transforms me now chief enemy of the Netherlands … More fundamentally, I advocate a genuine burden-sharing among European immigration and asylum. I say that integration is, in most major cities, a failure and that the ghetto is a reality whose policies are responsible because they did not act with sufficient vigor. I also demands better use of existing workforce.

So it’s not open the doors wide, but to consider how to facilitate a new immigration law – which is indeed also a way to fight against illegal immigration .

Across the political spectrum, you will suspect of organizing a brain drain, the “brain drain” , and to deprive countries of their best .. .

This is a key issue. However, note that in Tunisia many nurses are unemployed, why refuse when they come, for a limited period, in France or elsewhere? India and China have a surplus of engineers who, once trained in a complementary fashion in Europe, could be very useful to their country. This is not the “brain drain” to be organized, but the “brain gain” [ “brain growth” ].

How to convince both leaders and ordinary people who often feel confused immigration as a threat?

I feel, and studies confirm, that the citizen is often more open than some politicians. It calls for more information and he feels that some common manipulate reality. The same studies confirm that immigration is also often an issue more important for politicians than voters. In my meetings with ministers, they talk to me sometimes that they agree with me but can not say it too loud … Images of boats of illegal immigrants arriving in Lampedusa are apparently stronger than objective data.

fondiez You have great hope for a change of power in France. But on his first European Council in Luxembourg in June, Manuel Valls, essentially endorsed the positions taken by Claude Gueant on the need to restore border controls. Disappointed?

The central question is to determine precisely the situations “extraordinary” that can motivate a resumption of monitoring. Everyone knows that I do not agree with the last compromise dated and I always claims oversight of country situations by the Commission – in collaboration with member countries, of course – so this review is truly independent and transparent. The Council’s decision is not formalized, Parliament did not vote. This leaves an opportunity to resume the debate in September.

How do you assess the position of M.Valls

His situation was very difficult, with a European Council a few days after his arrival at the Interior Ministry. I look forward to meeting him.

You hope to change his mind?

We’ll see.

With what arguments?

We’ll see.


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