Managing Europe’s immigration wave

As Europe considers new ways to manage the increasingly fraught issue of immigration, two Euro-deputies from Greece are helping to draft a European Union-wide policy that is aimed at defusing what many see as a ticking time bomb. PASOK’s Stavros Lambrinidis and New Democracy’s Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, like other members of the European Parliament (MEPs), consider immigration one of the EU’s top issues. «Europe should not have anything to fear from its immigrants,» said Lambrinidis, who is vice president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. «If you give them the means and the sense that they are achieving equality and are respected by our societies, only then can we accomplish the great hope of Europe in this century.» Immigration has the makings of the proverbial double-edged sword. Europeans want immigrants to do low-wage work but they also fear newcomers who cannot assimilate into their culture. That fear often turns into xenophobia, which worsens tensions and often results in counterattacks by immigrants who feel marginalized. How best to manage newcomers was debated by the Immigration Policy Institute (IMEPO) during a conference last month on Samos. Greece, meanwhile, has special issues with immigration. It’s the only EU member state whose foreign-born population consists largely of one ethnic group: 60 percent of migrants to Greece are Albanians. Some 30 percent of Albania’s GDP – about 1 billion euros – is composed of incomes sent home from Albanian immigrants working abroad. Of that amount, 700 million euros comes from Albanian immigrants in Greece.

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