The wide opening of European borders to legal immigration, particularly as a privileged means of compensating for the demographic deficit of the European continent, is a recurrent motif defended by the Brussels institutions. The latest statements by Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica clearly point in this direction.
While the world’s population has just passed the 8 billion mark, the Commissioner highlights the numerical insignificance of the European population in the light of current demographic developments: “According to predictions, in 2070 Europe will be only 4% of the world population.” Her response to this alarmist observation, rather than encouraging an EU birth and family policy, is to think “globally.”
Today, Europeans represent about 10% of the world’s population—a figure that is constantly falling, while the proportion of the European population aged over 65 is constantly increasing, encouraged by a steady improvement in life expectancy.
The solution would therefore lie in immigration, particularly from Africa. Demography is normally a matter handled through the domestic policies of member states. Now the European Union intends to influence national policies in this area; Šuica wants to encourage states to create environments that are conducive to the settlement of young families, especially in sparsely populated rural areas. But in her approach, it is a question of encouraging the settlement of young families of immigrant origin, and not of European families encouraged by a natalist policy.
The strategies, summarised in a video by Dubravka Šuica, are not new. A few days earlier, the same speech was delivered by Joseph Borell, the head of European diplomacy. Invited on the French news channel LCI, he indicated that “Europe’s demographic winter was being filled by contributions from the rest of the world,” before adding: “Whether you like it or not, it’s a fact.”
Going back a little further in time, in the spring of 2022, the same speech was made this time at the UN, in the context of the discussions on the Global Pact on Migration. “Migration is normal, migration is natural. It has always existed and will always exist. And Europe needs migration. We are an aging society with a shrinking labour force,” said EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johannsson. The political objective was then clearly defined: “to move from irregular to regular migration.” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on states to change the way they look at migration: “not just as a problem to be solved, but as a potential solution to many of the challenges we face.”
On the occasion of the Global Migration Pact forum, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó broke the apparent consensus of European and global governing bodies, by pointing out the perverse effects of migration: “Migration has led to the emergence of parallel societies and an increased threat of terrorism in Western Europe,” he said, adding that migrants were unable to integrate into Western society and that they were “putting pressure on a society that has lived in it for centuries.” Hungary had actually voted against the Global Pact on Migration at the end of 2018.
However, the proposals for increased migration to Europe have found favour with other European politicians who are reluctant to set up or maintain an ambitious family policy in their countries. Šuica’s proposals relate mainly to the issue of the harmonious distribution of immigrants on the territories. This issue was recently raised, for example, by French President Emmanuel Macron, who explicitly proposed to specifically target rural areas for the settlement of newcomers.