Europe's Next Crisis? Migrant Flows Are Surging

With Greek haircuts likely (or Cyprus-style bail-ins), Merkel elections (and the potential for less positive coalitions and post-election 'sternness'), and the possibility for the German court to curtail plans for OMT; there is plenty to  remove the 'magic' that is supporting Europe's market 'recovery'. However one topic not often discussed is the ongoing surge in people seeking refuge in EU countries from North Africa and the Middle East. Countries such as Greece or Italy that make up the European Union's southern border have long struggled to deal with flows of refugees from across the Mediterranean. The issue, as Stratfor notes, has been magnified by high unemployment rates in destination countries, where social security systems are strained and anti-immigrant sentiment is high. However, the combination of continued northern flows of European migrants, the increase in asylum applications and the spread of the European economic crisis appears primed to weaken some of the achievements Europe has seen in integration.

 

Via Stratfor,

Flows of people seeking refuge in EU countries are increasing due to ongoing unrest in North Africa and the Middle East as well as economic woes in the Caucasus. This trend is unfolding at an inopportune time for the EU states receiving the majority of these asylum seekers because these same states are seeing problems related to the European crisis intensify. According to data released Aug. 2 by Eurostat, around 85,000 asylum applications were filed in EU countries during the first quarter of 2013 -- an increase of roughly 15,000 over the same period a year earlier.

EU regulations stipulate that the country where asylum seekers first arrive typically must also take care of them. Malta, a prime destination for refugees from North Africa, has apparently tired of taking on such burdens. Countries such as Greece or Italy that make up the European Union's southern border have long struggled to deal with flows of refugees from across the Mediterranean. The issue has been magnified by high unemployment rates in destination countries, where social security systems are strained and anti-immigrant sentiment is high.

As the Continent's economic crisis continues, parties calling for stronger immigration controls appear likely to gain popularity, and countries can be expected to question the merits of the border-free Schengen area and implement tighter immigration rules. Within countries, clashes between migrant and native populations are likely to become more frequent. Thus, the combination of continued northern flows of European migrants, the increase in asylum applications and the spread of the European economic crisis appears primed to weaken some of the achievements Europe has seen in integration.