Migration-Related Issues in the Eutropian Federation
When we think of "migration," we tend to think of it first in terms of "immigration" and "emigration" of people moving into and out of countries, crossing national borders. While such migration has long been part of the Eutropian reality, as Eutropia moves toward increasing unification and national borders no longer regulate the movement of people or goods among member states, more and more Eutropians have been moving within the Federation for a variety of reasons for educational reasons, to find jobs (or better-paying jobs), but also to join loved ones or to find a "place in the sun" they can retire to. Thus, significant numbers of people have migrated from "old industry" regions in countries like Brynnland, Calderland and Northland one estimate suggests upwards of a million Calderlanders have taken up permanent residence in Highland. While some have become integrated in the society of their adopted country, a majority have not, instead remaining culturally and socially isolated in expatriot communities. Although a 2003 policy paper published by the Eutropian Commission urged member states to accelerate their efforts to integrate immigrants, and a Federation Network has since been established to collect and share information on "best practices" in the area of integration, there is little evidence to suggest that much is being done to target migrant retirees.
However, retirees and their migration patterns can be expected to be increasingly important factors in future national and Federation planning for several reasons. First, the median age in Eutropia is predicted to increase from 37.7 years (in 2003) to 52.3 years by 2050 (compared to 35.4 years for the United States). Since even today only 39% of 55 to 64 year-olds are estimated to be in the work force, such a marked demographic shift could mean a radical decline in Eutropian productivity as more and more workers enter the 55 to 64 year-old age group and leave the workforce. According to the Eutropian Commission, the working-age population will decrease by 48 million over the next four decades, while number of senior citizens will increase by 58 million. Put another way, by 2050, instead of four workers per retiree, the ratio will be two to one.
Where other types of (im)migrants are concerned, national policies and practices sometimes appear contradictory. For a number of years, despite demographics that show an overall population decline and an increase in the number of older Eutropians, some countries in the Eutropian Federation have practised de facto policies of "zero immigration." Concerned that Eutropia might be overrun by "economic refugees" and criminal gangs, member countries have taken turns accusing their neighbours of failing to act decisively to control their coastlines or borders with non-Federation countries. In response, individual countries have taken a variety of actions, including lowering quotas for legal immigrants and asylum seekers, enforcing stricter monitoring of borders, and even requiring that formal applications for asylum be filed and processed before applicants leave the area in which the alleged persecution is taking place.
Such efforts to limit the entry of undocumented refugees and asylum-seekers have been criticised by a UNHCR (United Nations High Commission on Refugees) report, which asserts that
Now, if current demographic and economic trends continue, the combination of the "zero immigration" policy, declining birth rates and increasing emigration of working-age Eutropians to countries outside the Federation, Eutropia's population will continue to decline over the next half century.
To keep its economy healthy and to maintain current levels of social services such as retirement and health care, the Eutropian Federation must admit up to 30 million immigrants over the next 50 years. This figure includes the projected needs of current Federation members as well as those of countries expected to join the Federation within the next five to ten years.
In the past, industrial and construction labour needs have been met by encouraging migration within the Federation from countries with high unemployment rates to countries with labour shortages. Now, while a shortage of seasonal agricultural labour continues to be a problem in several countries, the need is greatest for highly skilled and qualified specialists in areas like information technology (IT), telecommunications engineering, medicine and publishing.
Even if there were a surplus of workers within the Federation, few Eutropians appear willing to live and work permanently outside their home country. Although borders within the Federation have been open (with a few notable exceptions, such as Calderland) for over a decade, and although freedom of movement and the right to live and work in any member state are guaranteed to all citizens of Eutropian member states, less than 1.4% of Eutropia's citizens currently live in a country other than the one in which they were born. However, some 600,000 Eutropians commute to work in another country than the one they live in. In fact, many member countries have now established regional cross-border programs to facilitate job searches and hiring and to improve technical training in the "donor" country.
A decade ago, Federation subsidies helped some of the Federation's poorer regions and countries to develop flourishing economies, while former "powehouse" economies in countries like Brynnland and Flannerland floundered. Over the years, several countries have had multiple budget deficits which exceeded the Federation's allowable 3% of GDP. The current upheaval in the financial sector and the as yet unforseeable ripple effect it will have on most national economies can be expected to force most member countries to exceed the 3% limit for at least the next few years as governments struggle to find ways to support not only banks, but also core sectors of their economies.
To date, the Federation has been unable to agree on a uniform minimum wage or on an acceptable length for a working week. Union members have increasingly demonstrated their disaffection with increasingly intolerable working conditions, job cuts (caused by the relocation of production facilities to countries with lower production costs), mandatory unpaid overtime, and the trend toward lengthening the working week without additional compensation. Even when national economies recovered momentum and began growing again, employers were slow to take on new personnel. Now, with the Federation facing a potentially major economic recession, if not a full-blown depression, employment levels have finally reached levels comparable with those that preceded the last recession, and young secondary school graduates looking for apprenticeships and internships are having an easier time finding suitable openings.
At the same time, students see their financial future endangered by laws establishing ever-longer probationary periods for young employees and permitting contract terminations without cause during the entire probationary period. Disgruntlement among professionals (teachers, doctors, civil employees) and skilled workers in a broad range of industries has led to a wave of demonstrations and strikes unlike any seen in Eutropia in the last half century.
Further complicating the picture, unemployed people of all ages fear "wage dumping" made possible by the rapid expansion of the Federation. In part to allay these fears, some governments have chosen to limit or prohibit labour migration from new member states for several years. Other countries have welcomed workers from new member countries; however, as the cost of living in the host country has risen and the economy in their home country has improved, many of these same workers have migrated back to their country of origin.
Affecting the development of a successful immigration policy for the Eutropian Federation are 1) economic, 2) social, and 3) political factors.
Economic Factors: Eutropia's population is greying. Average life expectancy is increasing in all member states and, as post-War "baby-boomers" retire and fewer young people are available to enter the labour force, payments into retirement and health insurance programmes are declining at the same time that pension and medical costs for senior citizens are skyrocketing.
As most of the world's developed countries are experiencing similar demographic trends and labour shortages, the Federation now finds itself in direct competition with highly developed countries such as Newland, Vinland and Sylvania for a limited pool of highly qualified and skilled IT and telecommunications workers. Currently, nearly a quarter of a million jobs are unfilled in Eutropia in the IT sector alone, and this number could triple within the next three years.
Immigration laws and immigration-friendly cultures have become the competitive advantage of developed nations. Federation immigration policy must reflect the labour needs of the individual member states and of the Federation as a whole and must make working in the Federation more attractive to highly-qualified workers.
At the same time, as industrial robots are increasingly used to cut production costs and production facilities are being moved to countries with lower labour costs, "old economy" manufacturing jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled workers are rapidly disappearing, particularly in Brynnland and Southland.
New jobs are being created most rapidly in the service sector, while industrial and agricultural employment are declining. [View graphic]
Further complicating the picture, wars, political and religious repression, economic upheaval and natural disasters in other parts of the world are creating refugee populations faster than at any time in history. The Federation's relative economic and social stability and well-established democratic traditions make it attractive to large numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons, yet as the UNHCR reported, the Eutropian Federation has been generally unwilling to accept refugees or grant legal entry to asylum-seekers.
This represents a dilemma for the Federation. On the one hand, the constitutions of several member states and the proposed constitution of the Eutropian Federation guarantee the right of asylum to victims of political or religious oppression. On the other hand, a variety of economic, social and political considerations have led each member state to restrict the number of such applications that are approved in a given year. Arriving at a uniform policy for the Federation has so far proven an elusive goal.
Social Factors: Socially, the world seems less comfortable than it used to be. As one expert put it, "people feel an invisible invasion: too many immigrants, the Eutropian Federation, the intrusion of American culture." Combined as it is in several countries with the real or threatened collapse of welfare and social service systems (health care, and community social services, government-supported retirement programs, etc.), such a perception is proving to be a volatile mixture which manifests in various ways among different segments of society.
Among the elderly, the poor, and unemployed young Eutropians, the perception feeds the growth of the far right throughout the Federation. Among second-generation immigrants, many feel disenfranchised, "dead-ended" and marginalized without a future in Eutropia, but also without a future in the country of their parents' origin, a country these young people may know only from holiday visits. A number of factors make it impossible even for second- or third generation immigrants to be fully integrated in their new society.
While government policies tend to treat natives as individuals, immigrants are dealt with as a single group. Moreover, Eutropia's informal social code and interactional style prevents immigrants in some countries from taking part in communal life. In the end, immigration policies have resulted in de facto segregation throughout Eutropia, a scenario especially true for immigrants from former colonies. Native-born Eutropians are growing more intolerant of immigrants and are less inclined to look for ways to combine integration with cultural pluralism.
For their part, many immigrants feel that they have been offered the worst of both worlds. In some countries, the language makes no distinction between "similar" and "equal," which affects thinking about immigrant groups who are culturally different within this conceptual framework, "one cannot be culturally different and politically equal." Thus, immigrants are expected to conform to national norms in the realms of language and religion as a condition of residence, yet these are the very realms in which many of them demand the right to be different. At the same time, they are not offered equality in the realms of education and work, where equal treatment is essential for full integration to be realized.
While theorists now see culture as a dynamic field marked by flows and variations rather than as a fixed entity with definite boundaries, this has not been adequately assimilated by national policy makers and politicians. Consequently, ideas contrasting "their culture" and "our culture" continue to proliferate and underlie a lot of policies. The consequences of such policies are apparent in the high unemployment numbers, poor scholarly achievement and increasing crime rates documented among immigrants.
Despite all these difficulties, the Council of Ministers and Parliament of the Eutropian Federation want Eutropia to continue to grow together, economically, politically, socially and culturally. They are convinced that a truly Eutropian citizenry can only develop when Eutropia's citizens begin to see themselves as Eutropians in a political sense. At the same time, the goal of "Eutropianization" must not be cultural and political homogeneity gained at the cost of Eutropia's richly diverse heritage. On the contrary, all of these identities must continue to find expression in the Eutropia of tomorrow.
What is called for is a pluralism which does not divide the population into mutually exclusive groups, but which recognises hybrid forms while simultaneously allowing people to make conservative choices. Immigrants and their children must be able to feel that they are part of society; that the abstract "we" of natiohood's imagined community encompasses them. In order for this to come about, true pluralism is required. Mixed and hybrid identities, hitherto seen as anomalies or even perversions, must be seen as perfectly normal; the cultural fundamentalism forcing persons to take on ill-fitting cultural identities must be abandoned.
Similarly, Eutropian natives must continue to see their own futures included in the "Eutropian Vision." As the Eutropian Commissioner said recently, "We need to ensure that the Eutropian institutions we create are properly democratic and accountable, so people feel they own them." How can we do this? Recommendations include history education, language programmes, travel programmes, mobility programmes and international dialogue, citizenship education, raising the profile of the pervasive impact of Eutropian institutions, fostering a sense of a Eutropian public sphere, counteracting the stereotyping of immigrants, counteracting Islamophobia.
Whether or not they are prepared to accept the fact, the Federation's member countries are nations with growing immigrant populations. This is primarily due to labour migration in some countries and to an influx of refugees or asylum seekers in others. In either case, similar fears surface: loss of jobs, loss of national and cultural identity, and increased crime.
Workers used to be recruited from other countries in what is now the Eutropian Federation; religious, cultural and physical differences between imported workers and their employers were, with few exceptions, relatively minor. Now, however, the only surplusses of skilled IT workers are found in countries which are both geographically and culturally distant from Eutropia; the arrival of these workers in Eutropia is quite literally changing the face of the Federation.
Some welcome this as a sign of Eutropia's increasing cosmopolitanism, but others feel their own cultural identity is being challenged. These people notice differences in everything from food, clothing, and religious and holiday traditions to gender roles and beliefs about the family. In the absence of proactive measures to make new arrivals feel welcome and to integrate them into Eutropian society, acts of violence against those perceived as being "different" or "foreign" have increased dramatically in recent years. Despite periodic campaigns to improve integration, foreigners also continue to face de facto segregation in schools and housing and discriminatory employment practices.
Experience shows that merely teaching tolerance does not bridge the gap between "us" and "them"; Eutropians must begin thinking of themselves as members of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society, and they need to perceive real advantages to this.
A natural consequence of cross-cultural interactions is an increase in interracial marriages and mixed-race, multi-cultural children whose values and belief systems, whose sense of what is "normal," "appropriate," and "right," are derived from or influenced by at least two different cultural traditions.
Political Factors: Politically speaking, Eutropians are awakening to a less sovereign world in which national laws and regulations must be formulated in accordance with Eutropian requirements, yet the distance both geographical and perceived between individual Eutropian citizens and their Eutropian Parliament seems increasingly great. Federation policies and regulations, while intended to strengthen the Federation as a whole, often require painful sacrifices on the part of individual regions. Thus, political decisions made in Eutropolis regarding the number and location of shipbuilding firms permitted to do business in Eutropia may have made surviving companies more competitive on the world market, but communities that have lost a major industry now suffer from long-term structural unemployment particularly among older workers and from shrinking populations, as younger workers have been forced to seek employment elsewhere.
Agricultural policies have been another alienating factor, mandating an end to cherished government subsidies for farmers, on the one hand, and developing uniform standards for agricultural products that, to consumers and comedians alike, seem excessive to the point of becoming rediculous. All too frequently, decisions taken in Eutropolis appear at best to ignore the needs and wants of ordinary citizens and at worst to be in direct conflict with them.
While citizens of new member countries still view Federation membership as having a positive effect on the development of democracy in their countries, more and more citizens of the original Federation member states feel politics is no longer relevant to their lives. According to this view, both the left and the moderate right have run out of "ideological gas," leaving "a vacuum into which people with simple solutions and xenophobes can slip." Disappointment with Eutropia's mainstream politicians is widespread, and many Eutropians are "voting with their feet" by staying at home on election day, resulting in lower-than-expected voter turnouts for parliamentary elections and referendums. In recent months, voters have begun expressing their frustration both with Eutropolis and with their own national governments by rejecting the proposed Constitution of the Federation in one country after another, thus dealing the political unification of Eutropia a major setback.
Political factors affecting immigration policy are inextricably intertwined with social and economic factors; as these change, so do the political responses. Candidates tend to exploit voters' fears during election campaigns, and criticizing immigration policy allows them to exploit these fears without running the risk of alienating potential supporters, since immigrants and refugees cannot vote until they become citizens of their adopted country.
Once elected, however, governments are confronted with real problems that demand pragmatic solutions, such as severe labour shortages or surpluses. Immigration policy has thus developed as a response to economic pressures, not to moral concerns; the aim has become that of reducing the number of immigrants who cost the government money (i.e. refugees and asylum-seekers) and increasing the number of those who pay taxes and otherwise contribute to the economy (e.g. highly qualified IT and telecommunications specialists). This kind of thinking has resulted in several plans to attract qualified and highly-skilled workers in fields where severe labour shortages already exist or are predicted to develop in the future. [View table]
At the same time, governments are working to make their countries less attractive to asylum-seekers and refugees. In Brynnland, asylum-seekers must remain in detention centres (where they may be easy targets for xenophobic attacks) for three months; after that, their movements are limited to a very small geographical area, and a violation of this restriction means an immediate return to their country of origin. Calderland, Southland and Brynnland limit the social welfare benefits available to asylum-seekers. All member countries in the Eutropian Federation now have repatriation agreements with countries of origin that allow the automatic return of newly-arrived "illegals" to their country of origin.
In some countries plans are being drawn up to expel illegal immigrants already living in the Federation, while other countries are considering granting amnesty to certain categories of illegal immigrants. Periodic changes of immigration policy in the various member states have created a continually shifting matrix of regulations and strictness of enforcement that has, in turn, given rise to a new breed of asylum seeker: so-called "asylum shoppers" - migrants who pass through several countries in the Federation, "testing the waters" in each before they finally settle on the one which seems a) most open toward foreigners, b) most likely to provide economic opportunities, or c) most likely to approve their application for asylum.
With tighter border controls, more and more would-be immigrants are resorting to extremely risky methods of entering the Federation. Thousands of political and economic refugees some estimates put the real figure in the tens of thousands lose their lives each year while attempting to enter the Federation in leaky boats, the luggage compartments of airplanes, and cargo containers.
Human trafficking represents another avenue of illegal entry for thousands of individuals. Here, too, a uniform policy and transnational cooperation are called for.
This, briefly, is the context in which the Eutropolis Conference on Migration-related Issues is being convened.
Eutropolis Conference on Migration-related Issues
Your task, as participants in the Conference is to work with your fellow Eutropians representatives of both governments and non-governmental organisations to write a declaration outlining the basic principles concerning all aspects of migration to be adhered to by the Eutropian Federation and its member countries in the future.
The Conference will meet first in plenary session. At a second plenary session, delegates will identify topics to be addressed in each of four Working Groups* and responsibility for coordinating each of the Working Groups will be established. Delegates will meet at least twice in Working Groups, then reconvene in a further plenary session to discuss any points of conflict or inconsistency in the reports of the various Working Groups. At the final plenary session, a vote will be taken to determine which points will be included in the Eutropolis Declaration.
*The four Working Groups are as follows: